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Bulleit Bourbon vs Jim Beam: Which is Better? (2024 Best Edition)

bulleit bourbon vs jim beam

Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Are you looking for a versatile and budget-friendly bourbon whiskey? Some may think Bulleit bourbon and Jim Beam can be good options. But which one is better? 

Here’s the head-to-head battle of Bulleit Bourbon vs Jim Beam with an in-depth comparison of the history, production process, and tasting notes. Read on.

Jim Beam & Bulleit Bourbon Head To Head Battle

Jim Beam Double Oak Twice BarreledBulleit and Jim Beam are Kentucky straight bourbons that use rye as their secondary grains. They both came from a family of distillers; however, there are big differences between these two bourbons. 

Bulleit uses higher rye content on its mash bill than Jim Beam, resulting in different tasting notes. Bulleit is aged longer than Jim Beam, affecting each bottle’s price point.  

How Are They Different? 

How Are They Different? 

History

Bulleit was founded in 1897, but the Bulleit bourbon came from an old family recipe over 150 years ago. Thomas Bulleit Jr. was inspired by Augustus Bulleit, his great-great-grandfather who made high-rye whiskey

On the other hand, Jim Beam bourbon is made by the Beam family and has been crafted since 1795. Seven generations later, the legacy of Jacob Beam, a corn farmer turned master distiller, continues. 

Distillation & Production Process

Oak Barrel

Jim Beam bourbon’s production process starts with cooking the mash bill and sour mash before transferring it to the fermenter and adding the 89-year-old yeast strain.

Once the fermentation is done, it will be distilled in 65-foot column stills twice and then matured in charred oak barrels. 

On the other hand, Bulleit Bourbon’s production begins with cooking their old family recipe and fermenting before it undergoes a double distillation process in copper stills.

The distillation process helps remove the impurities of the spirit before maturation. 

Read: Is Jim Beam Bourbon or Whiskey?

Maturation

Bulleit bourbon and Jim Beam are matured in charred oak barrels. However, Bulleit is aged longer than Jim Beam. 

Bulleit bourbon is aged six years in charred oak barrels, influencing the spirit’s appearance and taste.

On the other hand, Jim Beam is matured for four years in charred oak barrels. 

Mash Bill

Grain Spear

While both bourbons are composed of at least 51% corn per the bourbon requirement [1], Bulleit Bourbon has a higher ratio of rye content than Jim Beam. 

Bulleit bourbon’s mash bill contains 68%, 28% rye, and 4% malted barley, and the secondary grain gives the bourbon a rich, spicy note.

On the other hand, Jim Beam has used the same recipe since 1795, and it is 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. 

Age Statement & Alcohol Proof

Jim Beam and Bulleit bourbon do not bear age statements, but Jim Beam is presumably aged for four years while Bulleit Bourbon is aged for six years. It is one of the possible reasons why Bulleit is more expensive than Jim Beam. 

Moreso, Bulleit bourbon has higher alcohol proof than Jim Beam. Jim Beam contains 80 alcohol proof (40% ABV) while Bulleit Bourbon contains 90 alcohol proof (45% ABV).

The ten alcohol-proof difference is noticeable, especially when you drink the spirit neat. Check out the best Bulleit bourbons here

Ownership & Distillery

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey

Bulleit Bourbon has previously acted as a Non-Distiller Producer because they source whiskey.

However, in 2017, under Diageo’s ownership, the whiskey is now produced in Bulleit Distilling Co. Diageo is a multinational beverage alcohol company based in London, England [2].

Jim Beam is distilled in James B. Beam Distilling Co, and it is under the management of Beam Suntory. Beam Suntory is an American-founded Japanese company that produces alcoholic beverages. 

Tasting Notes 

Tasting Notes 

Jim Beam

Jim Beam 8 Doubled Oak Twice Barreled

  • Palate: Mellow, hints of caramel, vanilla, thin-bodied, light toasty oak, black pepper
  • Nose: Oaky vanilla, spicy backdrop, and sweet aroma
  • Color: Golden Amber
  • Finish: Short, warm, oaky, and sweet 

Bulleit Bourbon

  • Palate: Bold, spicy, maple, tones of oak, and nutmeg
  • Nose: Gentle spiciness, sweet oak, clove, cinnamon
  • Color: Medium amber
  • Finish: Long, dry, strong, sweet, spicy, with a light toffee 

Price Point & Value 

Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey

Bulleit bourbon is more expensive than Jim Beam. You can score a bottle of Jim Beam for around $24, while a bottle of Bulleit bourbon may cost you roughly $33. 

Bulleit bourbon is more expensive because of two possible reasons: (1) maturation and (2) alcohol-proof.

As mentioned above, Bulleit bourbon is aged longer than Jim Beam. Moreso, Bulleit bourbon contains 90 proof, higher by ten than a Jim Beam bourbon. 

Bulleit Bourbon & Jim Beam Common Prices

Bourbon Size Alcohol Proof Average Price
Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 750 ml 80 Around $22.39
1 L Around $23.49
Bulleit Bourbon 750 ml 90 Around $32.99
1 L Around $42.99

*Average prices are based on Drizly online. Prices may vary in local liquor shops.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Bulleit owned by Jim Beam?

No, Bulleit Bourbon is not owned by Jim Beam. While Jim Beam is a prominent name in the bourbon industry, Bulleit Bourbon falls under the ownership of Diageo plc, a multinational beverage alcohol company headquartered in London, England.

Diageo acquired Bulleit Bourbon in 1997 through a partnership with Tom Bulleit, the founder of Bulleit Bourbon, aiming to expand the brand’s production and distribution globally.

While Jim Beam produces its own line of bourbons, including the iconic Jim Beam Bourbon, Bulleit Bourbon remains distinctively separate under the stewardship of Diageo plc.

Why is Bulleit Bourbon popular?

Bulleit Bourbon has garnered significant popularity among bourbon enthusiasts for various reasons. One of its key attractions is its distinctive flavor profile, characterized by a high-rye mash bill. This high-rye content gives Bulleit Bourbon a spicy and robust flavor profile, setting it apart from other bourbons on the market.

Additionally, Bulleit Bourbon is celebrated for its smoothness and versatility, making it suitable for sipping neat, on the rocks, or as a key ingredient in cocktails.

The popularity of Bulleit Bourbon is also attributed to its compelling brand heritage and story. Founded by Tom Bulleit in the 1980s, Bulleit Bourbon boasts a rich family tradition and a commitment to craftsmanship.

Its old-west-inspired packaging and marketing evoke a sense of nostalgia and authenticity, resonating with consumers seeking an authentic bourbon experience.

Furthermore, Bulleit Bourbon has received numerous awards and accolades for its quality and consistency, further bolstering its reputation among bourbon enthusiasts.

Its relatively affordable price point compared to other premium bourbons also contributes to its widespread appeal, making it accessible to a broad range of consumers.

What is similar to Bulleit Bourbon?

Several bourbons share similarities with Bulleit Bourbon, making them attractive alternatives for bourbon enthusiasts seeking comparable flavor profiles and characteristics. Some notable alternatives to Bulleit Bourbon include:

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon: Produced by Four Roses Distillery, this bourbon is known for its balanced flavor profile and high-rye mash bill. It offers a complex taste with notes of spice, caramel, and fruit, similar to Bulleit Bourbon.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon: Crafted by Brown-Forman Corporation, Woodford Reserve Bourbon is prized for its smoothness and rich, full-bodied flavor. With its high-rye mash bill, it features notes of oak, vanilla, and spice reminiscent of Bulleit Bourbon.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon: Distilled at Buffalo Trace Distillery, this bourbon is celebrated for its approachable flavor profile and versatility. With a lower rye content compared to Bulleit Bourbon, Buffalo Trace Bourbon offers a milder spice profile with notes of caramel, toffee, and baking spices.

These bourbons, along with Bulleit Bourbon, represent some of the finest examples of American whiskey craftsmanship and are popular choices among bourbon aficionados seeking quality, flavor, and value.

Is Jim Beam a top shelf whiskey?

While Jim Beam is highly regarded and widely consumed, it is typically not classified as a top shelf whiskey. Top shelf whiskies are often associated with premium quality, extensive aging, and meticulous craftsmanship, commanding higher prices and appealing to connoisseurs seeking exceptional depth of flavor and complexity.

While Jim Beam is known for its consistency, accessibility, and affordability, it is more commonly categorized as a mid-range or entry-level bourbon, making it accessible to a broad range of consumers.

However, personal preferences and the context of consumption can influence perceptions of what constitutes a top shelf whiskey.

Why is it called Bulleit?

Bulleit Bourbon derives its name from its founder, Tom Bulleit, who revived the family’s whiskey recipe and brand in the 1980s. The Bulleit family has a rich heritage in whiskey distillation, dating back to the 1830s when Augustus Bulleit began crafting whiskey in Kentucky.

Inspired by his ancestors’ legacy, Tom Bulleit sought to honor their tradition by resurrecting the Bulleit name and recipe. The brand’s name pays homage to the Bulleit family’s pioneering spirit and dedication to quality, with its old-west-inspired packaging and marketing reflecting the adventurous frontier spirit of the American West.

Do the Japanese own Jim Beam?

Yes, Jim Beam is currently owned by Suntory Holdings Limited, a Japanese beverage company. In 2014, Suntory Holdings acquired Beam Inc., the parent company of Jim Beam, in a landmark deal valued at approximately $16 billion.

The acquisition marked a significant milestone for Suntory Holdings, expanding its presence in the global spirits market and adding iconic American whiskey brands like Jim Beam to its portfolio.

Despite being owned by a Japanese company, Jim Beam continues to be distilled and aged in the United States, maintaining its commitment to traditional American bourbon craftsmanship while benefiting from Suntory’s global resources and expertise.

Is Bulleit whiskey strong?

Bulleit whiskey, particularly its renowned variant, Bulleit Bourbon, is often characterized by its robust flavor profile and higher alcohol content. When discussing the strength of Bulleit whiskey, it’s crucial to consider its alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage.

Bulleit Bourbon typically boasts an ABV of 45%, equivalent to 90 proof. This places it within the standard range for bourbon whiskies. The higher ABV contributes to its perceived strength compared to spirits with lower alcohol content.

However, whether Bulleit whiskey is deemed “strong” is subjective and can vary based on individual preferences and tolerance for alcohol. Some may appreciate the bold and intense flavor profile that comes with the higher ABV, while others may find it too potent.

It’s essential for consumers to approach Bulleit whiskey responsibly, enjoying it in moderation to fully appreciate its complex flavors and aromas without overwhelming the palate.

Is Bulleit Bourbon strong?

Yes, Bulleit Bourbon is considered strong in terms of its alcohol content. As mentioned earlier, Bulleit Bourbon typically contains 45% ABV (90 proof), placing it on the higher end of the alcohol spectrum for bourbon whiskies.

This elevated ABV contributes to its bold and assertive character, making it a favorite among bourbon enthusiasts seeking a robust drinking experience.

Beyond its alcohol content, Bulleit Bourbon’s strength also lies in its flavor profile. It is known for its rich and complex taste, characterized by prominent notes of rye spice, caramel, vanilla, and oak.

The combination of its high ABV and distinctive flavor profile makes Bulleit Bourbon a standout choice for those who enjoy a potent yet flavorful whiskey.

How strong is Bulleit?

Bulleit Bourbon’s strength is directly related to its alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage, which is typically 45% (90 proof). This places it among the higher alcohol content spirits in the bourbon category. The higher ABV contributes to its bold and intense flavor profile, making it a favorite among whiskey aficionados who appreciate a robust and flavorful pour.

When enjoying Bulleit whiskey, whether neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails, it’s essential to do so responsibly. Its higher alcohol content means that it can have a more pronounced effect, so consumers should be mindful of their consumption and drink in moderation.

By savoring Bulleit whiskey responsibly, enthusiasts can fully appreciate its complexity and depth of flavor without being overwhelmed by its strength.

In summary, Bulleit whiskey, particularly Bulleit Bourbon, is esteemed for its robust flavor profile and higher alcohol content. With its 45% ABV (90 proof), it offers a potent yet flavorful drinking experience, appealing to those who enjoy bold and intense whiskies.

Is Bulleit a bourbon or whiskey?

Bulleit is a brand that produces both bourbon and rye whiskey. Their flagship product, Bulleit Bourbon, is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, while they also offer Bulleit Rye, which is a straight rye whiskey. Bourbon and rye whiskey are both types of American whiskey, but they have distinct characteristics based on their mash bills and production processes.

Bulleit Bourbon adheres to the strict regulations governing bourbon production, including being made from at least 51% corn in its mash bill and aged in new charred oak barrels. Bulleit Rye, on the other hand, follows similar guidelines but is primarily made from rye grain instead of corn, resulting in a whiskey with a spicier and more assertive flavor profile.

What is Bulleit Bourbon good with?

Bulleit Bourbon’s versatile flavor profile makes it suitable for various cocktail creations and drinking preferences. Here are some popular options for enjoying Bulleit Bourbon:

Classic Old Fashioned: Bulleit Bourbon pairs beautifully with the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. Combine bourbon with sugar, bitters, and a twist of orange peel for a sophisticated and timeless drink.

Whiskey Sour: The citrusy tang of a Whiskey Sour complements the spicy notes of Bulleit Bourbon. Mix bourbon with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and a dash of egg white for a refreshing and balanced cocktail.

Manhattan: Bulleit Bourbon shines in a Manhattan, adding depth and complexity to this classic cocktail. Combine bourbon with sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters, then garnish with a cherry for an elegant drink.

Boulevardier: For fans of bold flavors, the Boulevardier is an excellent choice. Mix Bulleit Bourbon with Campari and sweet vermouth for a sophisticated and robust cocktail with a bitter edge.

Bulleit and Ginger: For a simple and refreshing option, mix Bulleit Bourbon with ginger ale or ginger beer over ice. The spicy kick of ginger complements the bourbon’s flavor profile, creating a delightful and easy-to-make drink.

What is the tastiest bourbon?

The tastiest bourbon is subjective and can vary depending on individual preferences and palate. However, several bourbons are widely acclaimed for their exceptional flavor profiles and quality craftsmanship. Some bourbons that are frequently praised for their taste include:

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve: Regarded as one of the most coveted bourbons, Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is celebrated for its rich and complex flavors, with notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak.

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon: Known for its smoothness and depth of flavor, Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon features hints of caramel, honey, and spice, making it a favorite among bourbon enthusiasts.

Woodford Reserve: Woodford Reserve is appreciated for its balanced flavor profile, with notes of toasted oak, caramel, and dark chocolate. It offers a smooth and sophisticated drinking experience.

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon is praised for its complexity and depth of flavor, with a well-balanced blend of sweet and spicy notes. It offers a smooth and approachable taste.

Bulleit Bourbon: Bulleit Bourbon is renowned for its bold and spicy flavor profile, with hints of rye spice, caramel, and vanilla. It offers a robust and flavorful drinking experience that appeals to bourbon enthusiasts.

Ultimately, the tastiest bourbon is a matter of personal preference, and it’s essential to explore different brands and expressions to find the one that suits your taste best.

Final Verdict: Bulleit Bourbon vs Jim Beam

Based on our taste test and intensive research, Bulleit bourbon is clearly the winner of the head-to-head battle of Bulleit Bourbon vs Jim Beam.

Bulleit’s moderately high rye presence gives it a superior and balanced taste over Jim Beam. 

Bulleit bourbon is also a stand-alone spirit; you can drink it neat, with a dash of water, or as a cocktail. Moreso, for its price, Bulleit bourbon is good value for money. 

Both are great spirits but if you want something with a rich and bold flavor profile, go with Bulleit bourbon.

However, Jim Beam can be a good choice if you are looking for a cheap mixer since it is not a good idea to drink it neat. 

References:

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/04/5-rules-that-make-it-bourbon.html 
  2. https://www.forbes.com/companies/diageo/?sh=6d53d2aa1207
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