You know it ain't easy,
You got to hold on,
She was an unknown legend
In her time,
Now she's dressin' two kids,
Lookin' for a magic kiss,
She gets the far-away look
In her eyes.
Until you nose it.
Are you sure this isn't just a rye aged in bourbon barrels? What the hell happened to that sticky, syrupy sorghum sweetness? I mean, it's still there, it's just lurking behind the honeysuckle, wet grass, vanilla, and sopapillas. I'm not kidding, it's downright fried pastry funnel cake all drizzled with honey. And is that a hint of play-dough? What is going on here?
Now that the spiciness has died down, there's a slightly puckering tannin influence - again from the wood. Every impression so far has suggested that the oak overstayed its welcome here. It's The Office of bourbons, it just went a season or two too long. It's not like you wouldn't watch it, it's just that there are so many better expressions out there.
It's interesting to step back and compare this to something like Glenmorangie's Ealanta, which spent 19 years in toasted first-fill American Oak (quite similar to Bulleit's maturation, but almost twice as long - then again, we're talking barley instead of corn/rye). Glenmorangie's offering is sugary, demure, and delectable, a product of carefully tended malt, perfectly chosen oak, and provenance. By comparison, Bulleit's 10 yo is just kind of ... cranky. It's not nearly as nice to drink neat as the younger Bulleit, that's for sure.
You get the sense that the extra years have just not been kind to this bourbon - like the woman Niel Young sings about in "Unknown Legend". It's a rougher spirit, but it refuses to make excuses. In fact, it just kind of celebrates what it's got. So who takes the title?
Why, we haven't reviewed the Bulleit 95 Rye yet. ;-)