Bulleit Rye 12 Year Old


Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Diageo

Distillery: Sourced from MGP

Release Date: April 2024

Proof: 92

Age: 12 Years (Press release states the blend includes rye aged up to 17 years)

Mashbill: 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

Color: Dark Gold

MSRP: $55 / 750mL (2024)

Official Website

Press Release

Bulleit introduced 95 Rye Frontier Whiskey as a permanent line extension in 2011 and is America’s #1 selling rye whiskey according to Nielsen Data: Rye Segment Analysis 3.23.24. Despite being produced by MGP Ingredients, Bulleit is said to have a unique agreement with the company for them to produce rye whiskey from a proprietary recipe. Bulleit has control over barrel maturation which is done at MGP and at Bulleit’s own warehouses. Bulleit 95 Rye 12 Year, or “Bulleit Rye 12 Year” as it is typically referred to, was the first extension of Bulleit’s rye brand when it was released in 2019. The oft-used “95” in the name, refers to the 95% rye in its mashbill. As stock of the original batch sold out, Bulleit 95 Rye 12 Year was quietly discontinued. The 2024 release includes rye barrels up to 17 years old, and given the timeline could mean they were from the same stock that the original Bulleit Rye 12 Year was pulled from. This new release is said to be 8,000 cases and considered a limited release. Once stock runs out, it could similarly go on hiatus again.


You’re taken back by a mix of dusty rye whiskey and hints of Bazooka Bubble Gum. This unusual but effective scent is joined by fresh cut cedar, fresh cut grass, orange rind, and warm caramel. A rich rye grain note is also present throughout, providing a sturdy backbone for the entire aroma to rest on. Far on the backend, pine and mint can be found, providing a nice twist to the scents that come before it. The aroma works very well and provides a great deal of heft for its proof.


Like its younger sibling, Bulleit Rye 12 Year extrudes an array of brightness in its palate. Orange peel, green tea, graham cracker, and minty pine are once again present, but deeper in flavor. The palate doesn’t fully convey the whiskey’s age (though that comes later). Instead, the rye offers more in the zone of citrus and tropical fruit than stone fruit and berry. As such, lemon, cantaloupe, and pineapple can all be pulled out, giving the sip a bit of springy energy to it. As a result, it’s a very easy and approachable flavor profile to sip on.


It’s in the whiskey’s finish that the rye’s age begins to be felt. Toasted oak, cinnamon, and mild spice with lingering rye spice can be tasted. A layer of leather is also weaved in, with a very tempered but noticeable musty dry oak note tasted throughout. The finish is more straightforward, providing more of a sturdy base than offering something unique to say. It works overall with its layers of musty dry oak, but is very careful not to overdo it.


With Temepleton 10 Year Rye, Old Overholt Cask Strength Rye 10 Year, and Michter’s 10 Year Rye all heralding the return of double-digit aged ryes, Bulleit Rye 12 Year ups them with an additional 2 years of aging, though it also includes an undisclosed amount of rye aged up to 17 years. Though a few extra years isn’t necessarily a dramatic increase, when it comes to ryes and this age range, it's a big deal. Age can have a dramatic influence on a rye’s flavor profile, which is one reason we see so few of them. Quantity therefore is another reason, as anyone who loves old ryes will tell you, there are never enough available at any given time.

On the flavor spectrum, this is where Bulleit Rye 12 Year has a lot to say. The nose is the highlight of the sip with its range of scents. Though it’s the rye’s palate that has the most to say, its delivery comes up a bit short compared to its competitors. Compared to Temepleton 10 Year Rye, which is also sourced from MGP, Bulleit Rye 12 Year offers a wider array of flavors, but it’s the lack of warmth and intensity that the best aged ryes exhibit. Likewise, the finish is an improvement over the previous edition of Bulleit Rye 12 Year, with far less tannic elements to it, while still communicating the whiskey’s age respectively. Bulleit Rye 12 Year is a tricky rye that, in one breath, offers something unique with its range of flavors and aged notes but drinks considerably lighter and brighter than its 10 year old competitors. Though at the end of the day, it's still a 12 year old nationally released rye, which no other brand can currently claim.


Bulleit has always been a value-focused product, and that continues with the re-release of Bulleit Rye 12 Year. During its original release, the double-digit aged rye was priced at $50, which put it at the top of the company’s whiskey portfolio. Amazingly, 5 years later and in the midst of inflation (where in the last 12 months alone, the CPI increased 3.5%), Diageo only increased its price by $5. With its 10 year old competitor bottles starting at $80 and going north of $200, offering Bulleit Rye 12 Year at $55 doesn’t quite compute. While people’s perception of value of it could question its overall quality, it likely has to do with Diageo's long standing relationship with MGP. Somehow, Bulleit Rye 12 Year is older than almost every other rye on the market, yet its price undercuts the majority of ryes on the market. Craft rye whiskey makers must be shaking their heads at this release, saying, “How do I compete against a rye that is charging less than $5 per year of aging?” That helps put it in perspective how incredible Bulleit Rye 12 Year pricing really is.


Bulleit Rye 12 Year is back in a similar style as before, with exceptional value and approachability proudly on display once again.

The return of Bulleit Rye 12 Year is certainly unexpected as the line extension has been on mothballs for 5 years now. Back when it was originally released, high aged ryes weren’t plentiful, but few truly appreciated how rare they’d soon become. Except in late 2023 and 2024, they have returned in such numbers, that it's hard to call them the endangered species as that once were not too long ago. As it seems to be the case with American whiskey, if you wait long enough, everything returns.

Of the latest round of double-digit aged ryes, Bulleit Rye 12 Year tastes the oldest, but is extremely meticulous not to overdo it. It does this by being decisively light, with its bright fruit flavors, and holds off its aged oak notes till the finish. As such, it will likely have the most widespread appeal among whiskey drinkers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as aged ryes don’t inherently need to be challenging to be good. This broader appeal is backed by an amazing price that surely no one will beat pound for pound anytime soon. Bulleit Rye 12 Year is a solid sipper though it will likely leave the seasoned rye drinker expecting more, considering its age. But given its asking price based on its age statement alone, this is one whiskey siren that will be hard to resist.

The sample used for this review was provided to us at no cost courtesy its respective company. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.
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Written By: Eric Hasman

April 12, 2024
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