Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin
You probably know Blue Run Bourbon as Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Famer Jim Rutledge’s work.
With this Master Distiller in charge, do we expect nothing but good things for this bourbon? We sampled their 13-year-old offering to give you a full, unbiased review of the bottle.
About Blue Run Bourbon
Blue Run is a complex, layered whiskey with soft oak and nutty flavors. This small-batch bourbon is aged for 13 years in new charred oak casks and bottled at 113 proof (56.5 percent ABV).
This bottle is Blue Run’s first release in the bourbon market. This precious spirit features all the hallmarks of being a Rutledge whiskey, from the exceptionally smooth and mellow flavor profile to a long, dry yet slightly sweet finish. Despite the high proof, it almost has no palpable burn (and we’re not sure how the Master Distiller does it). According to brand CEO Mike Montgomery, Rutledge had the “best palate in the world.”
Blue Run’s signature weighty, hand-numbered bottle was designed by Devon McKinney, the creative mind behind some of the Nike sneakers you probably own. It features the brand’s gold butterfly medallion, which symbolizes the metamorphosis the whiskey industry is going through as it reaches a broader audience.
A Brief History
Blue Run Spirits is pretty young in the bourbon game — the company was founded in 2019 by a group of friends who had a passion for bourbon and creating fine products for the modern whiskey fan.
While the group loved bourbon whiskey, none of them had the technical experience necessary for bourbon-making — one of them was a Nike designer, the other Facebook’s first director-level employee, another a hospitality executive, a political advisor the last one a philanthropist.
The group knew they had to get someone who knew the bourbon industry like the back of his hand on board. They partnered with Jim Rutledge, a former Master Distiller for Four Roses and Bourbon Hall of Famer with over 50 years of experience as a whiskey veteran, as their “Liquid Advisor.”
How It’s Made
Rutledge had a strong influence on which barrels are suitable for bottling that there are only 2,600 bottles of their 13-Year-Old in circulation. It contains a blend of bourbons sourced from undisclosed Kentucky distilleries, bottled at cask-strength, and non-chill-filtered.
The company has not disclosed its mash bill publicly. However, we can assume that they’re following the industry standards by using at least 51 percent corn, alongside a percentage of rye and malted barley.
Ownership & Distillery
Blue Run Bourbon is owned by Blue Run Spirits, run by five corporate juggernauts who had previously worked for Nike and Facebook, among other companies. They source their b ourbons from an undisclosed Kentucky distillery, but rumor has it that they have a contract with Castle and Key Distillery (which had been distilling bourbon since the late 1800s).
Price & Value
A 750ml bottle of Blue Run 13-Year-Old Bourbon will cost you at least $170, depending on where it’s bought.
We have absolutely no problem paying this price for the whiskey as everything, from the bottle’s design to the actual whiskey inside, feels, looks, and tastes expensive. Of course, we have to thank Rutledge for the well-aged whiskey because no doubt the impeccable taste of his palate is behind its success.
Paying $170 for a bottle of bourbon whiskey is not for everyone, though. You still can get good bourbons for less than $100 if you’re not willing to shell out this much money.
This whiskey has nuanced tasting notes: it starts sweet, with brown sugar, browned butter, and caramel, balanced with baking spices and an aged oak flavor. The mouthfeel is just right, neither too light nor too creamy, with a little of that spice and potency you would expect from the high proof.
It has vanilla on the forefront of the nose, laced with caramel and aged oak — basically what you would expect in a traditional Kentucky Bourbon. There is also a bit of spice and heat on the nose from the high proof, but nothing too overwhelming.
It has a dark copper hue, almost like russet.
Alcohol Content & Finish
It is bottled at cask strength with 113 proof (56.5 percent ABV).
The smoothness continues to this bourbon’s dry finish, which is pleasant, long, and delicious. It has a hint of cinnamon and other baking spices, with a bit of sweetness from brown sugar and honey and tartness from dark cherry and golden raisins.
Where To Buy Blue Run Bourbon
You can buy Blue Run at select retailers across the United States and Canada. You can also buy from online stores like Total Wine, Wine Searcher, and Drizly for your convenience or purchase directly from Blue Run’s website.
Who Is Jim Rutledge?
Jim Rutledge is the “liquor advisor” of Blue Run Spirits, in charge of sampling barrels to determine which ones are good for selling. The company also notes that all of Blue Run’s future releases will be personally selected and distilled by Rutledge himself.
Rutledge is a Bourbon Hall of Famer with over 50 years of experience in the bourbon industry. He is the former Master Distiller of Four Roses Bourbon and is, quite frankly, the reason why this iconic bourbon is what it is today.
How To Drink Blue Run Bourbon
The best way to enjoy Blue Run Bourbon is to drink it neat, so you know exactly the kind of quality bourbon Rutledge puts out. Make sure that you use the proper glassware, such as a Glencairn glass, for the best experience in both aroma and flavor.
You can put a pipette of water or have it with ice, as both will open up the aroma and flavors of the whiskey even more. Allow the bourbon to acclimate to the ice before you sip to get the full experience.
You can also put this in cocktails if you wish, but we advise not to — the mixers will not allow for the bourbon’s complexities to shine through. But hey, if you shelled out $170 for this whiskey, you can have it any way you wish.
Common Blue Run Bourbon Prices
|Bottle Type||Size||Alcohol By Volume||Average Price|
|Blue Run Straight Bourbon||750ml||47.5||Around $90|
|Blue Run Straight Bourbon 14-Year-Old||750ml||56.5||Around $200|
|Blue Run Kentucky Straight Bourbon 13-Year-Old||750ml||56.5||Around $200|
|Blue Run “Reflection I” Kentucky Straight Bourbon||750ml||47.5||Around $90|
|Blue Run Kentucky Straight High Rye Bourbon||750ml||55.5||Around $100|
|Blue Run Single Barrel (13.5 Years)||750ml||64.5||Around $250|
Compared to Other Bourbons
Sam Houston Bourbon
The Sam Houston brand has a 15-year-old offering that’s priced more or less the same as Blue Run. It has perfectly nuanced flavors, with vanilla, honey, and other baking spices. It is made from a corn-heavy mash bill of over 74 percent, with 18 percent rye and 8 percent malted barley.
Stellum Bourbon is made from the wondrous blend of three Indiana whiskeys, with two being straight high-rye bourbon and the last one almost exclusively corn.  Because of this, it has vastly different flavors than what you would expect Kentucky whiskeys to have — it is more savory, with rosemary, thyme, oak, and fennel notes.
A bottle of Stellum Bourbon costs around $60, depending on where it’s bought, making it significantly cheaper than Blue Run.
Yellowstone Bourbon was named after the first national park in the United States. It has been around since the late 1800s, but in 2015, the spirit was revamped when Steve and Paul Beam (of Jim Beam ancestry) took hold of the brand.
The brothers believe in preserving the authentic Kentucky bourbon flavor, so Yellowstone has the signature oak, toffee, and old leather, rounded out with rye spice. Learn about who makes Yellowstone bourbon here.
A bottle of Yellowstone costs around $40 per 750ml, which is also significantly cheaper than Blue Run.
Related Post: Blade & Bow Bourbon Review
Popular Blue Run Bourbon Cocktail Recipes
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
- 2 oz Blue Run Kentucky Straight High Rye Bourbon
- 5 dashes cranberry bitters
- 0.5 oz sweet vermouth
- 0.5 oz dry vermouth
- Orange peel
Pour all ingredients (except the orange peel) into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well until combined. Strain and pour into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
- 1.5 oz Blue Run Bourbon
- 0.75 oz Campari
- 0.75 oz sweet vermouth
- Orange peel
Pour all the liquid ingredients into a mixing glass and stir well. Add crushed ice to the mixture and stir until the mixture turns cool. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Squeeze the orange peel over the cocktail to express its oils before dropping it in as garnish.
Who distributes Blue Run bourbon?
Apart from Blue Run Spirits, Blue Run Bourbon is distributed by RNDC and Savannah Distributing Company (a food and beverages company).
Is Blue Run bourbon rare?
Yes, Blue Run Bourbon is quite rare. The company has revealed that there are only 2,600 bottles of their 13-year-old in circulation, so if you happen to chance upon the bottle, know that it’s a rare find!
Is Blue Run bourbon sourced?
Blue Run Bourbon is sourced from an undisclosed distillery located in Kentucky (it’s said that it comes from Frankfort and Bardstown).
If you’re one who appreciates fine bourbon and is looking for a sign to purchase a $170 bottle, this is it.
The combination of John Rutledge’s unparalleled palate, the luxurious bottle design by Devon McKinney, and the marketing strategy behind Blue Run Bourbon is a recipe for success — and we’re glad that the whiskey inside the bottle backs it up. The whiskey has a wonderful mouthfeel, with a perfectly proportioned sweet and spicy flavor profile.
Of course, not everyone can afford to shell out $170 for a whiskey, which is a shame. Still, bourbon lovers won’t regret buying this bottle as it’s a guarantee that you’ll enjoy every sip.
We’re excited to see the brand’s subsequent releases.