Good things come to those who wait. And one thing that many people will wait for is aged bourbon. Compared to its younger counterparts, there’s a plethora of different types of age statements and aging methods, so it’s often thought that aged bourbon offers more character and complexity the older it gets. However, there’s consensus among seasoned drinkers that bourbons aged for 10 to 14 years are the ones truly worth coveting. Well-known brands offer older expressions that will cost a pretty penny and are arguably worth the extra expense. But is all aged bourbon good bourbon? The answer is a little complicated.
Some believe that, like Scotch whisky, the longer bourbon sits in the barrel, the better it will taste. But this isn’t necessarily true. Because of the climate in Kentucky, where a majority of the world’s bourbon is produced, the maturation process is a bit wild. Extreme weather in summer and winter causes barrels to expand and contract, in effect speeding up the aging process. As the bourbon matures, the flavors are drawn out from the charred oak barrel, resulting in a bourbon that’s full of flavors ranging from vanilla and caramel to pepper and spices. But while a bourbon aged for a longer time may seem like a more sophisticated expression, in actuality, anything over 15 years old runs the risk of picking up bitter or sour notes from the barrel. Which is why a 10-year-old bourbon hits the sweet spot for complexity, character, and taste.
Beyond flavor and nuance, a bourbon aged for 10 years mixes into a cocktail as well as it sips neat, making it a versatile addition to any home bar. And since these bottles are sought after by bourbon enthusiasts and pros alike, many distilleries are creating and experimenting with their bourbon in order to meet the demand. A modern example is Bulleit 10 Year Old.
With an old recipe but a new take on modern distilling, Bulleit 10 Year Old hits the spot. In fact, if you order a bourbon cocktail today, it’s often made with Bulleit as its high-rye content stands up in most classic serves. First released in 2013, Bulleit 10 Year uses the same mash bill as its younger counterpart, Bulleit Straight Kentucky Bourbon. With a mixture of 68 percent corn, 28 percent rye, and 4 percent malted barley, Bulleit 10 Year Old is then aged in new American white oak barrels with a char level 4. Barrels are then stacked vertically instead of the traditional horizontal system to allow the liquid to age more consistently — and with no rotation necessary.
10 Years later, the bourbon is ready, retaining the same spicy kick its core expression is known for, but with a satisfying depth of creamy vanilla and dried fruit notes that lend raisins and date flavors. On the finish, you’ll find a long, smoky, smooth flavor that curls out from the end of each sip. The result is incredibly smooth, aromatic, and deeply flavorful.
So if you’re new to aged bourbon or building out your collection, Bulleit 10 Year Old should be a home bar contender –– especially if you’re a fan of the brand’s core, no-age-statement expression. The fact that Bulleit trusts its namesake Bulleit Bourbon to serve as the same base liquid for this aged expression shows true confidence and allows for an interesting tasting experience. When other brands alter the liquid in their different aged expressions, it makes it difficult to differentiate between the flavors that arrive with age and the tastes or textures that arrive from the “tweaked” mash bill.
Instead, with Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit 10 Year Old, you’ll get the unique experience to taste side by side, only to discover the incredible flavors that come with age. And Bulleit 10 Year is more than just a sipping whiskey. Once you take the time to sit down and taste through it, you may find yourself using it to upgrade traditional cocktails like the Manhattan, Boulevardier, or Old Fashioned. There, it will lend a completely different set of flavors than its younger counterparts, adding more depth and complexity with each sip.
So when you’re ready to try an aged bourbon, look to Bulleit 10 Year Old. Bottled at just the right moment in time, it’s the one worth waiting for.
This article is sponsored by Bulleit Frontier Whiskey.