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Bulleit Bourbon vs Woodford Reserve (2024 Updated)

Bulleit Bourbon vs Woodford Reserve

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Lydia Martin

When it comes to bourbon, two well-respected brands always seem to be in the debate of being the best: Bulleit Bourbon vs Woodford Reserve.  Both are great bourbons with a long history, but which one is better? 

Woodford Reserve & Bulleit Bourbon Main Differences

Bulleit Bourbon Both Bulleit and Woodford use a mashbill with a high content of spicy rye, which gives the whiskeys a smooth and spicy profile, and neither has an age statement. However, the two brands have key differences in their history, maturation, tasting note and finish, price point, mash bills, production, alcohol content, and food pairing.  Woodford Reserve is also distilled at a lower proof than Bulleit, which results in a slightly sweet palate. Ultimately, both whiskeys are delicious spirits with unique flavor profiles. 

Closer Look At The Differences 

Closer Look At The Differences 

History & Ownership

Augustus Bulleit first created Bulleit bourbon in the 1830s. Bulleit spent years perfecting his recipe, which uses a high proportion of rye grain to give it a unique palate. In 1997, Diageo (now the owner of Bulleit) partnered with Tom Bulleit to relaunch the Bulleit brand. Four Roses supplied Bulleit whiskey for more than a decade. In late 2013 or early 2014, Four Roses canceled their contract and Bulleit sourced its products from other manufacturers.  Woodford Reserve is another famous bourbon whiskey, and Elijah Pepper first produced the whiskey in 1812. After his death, it was inherited by Oscar Pepper and was known as The Oscar Pepper Distillery.  The Pepper family sold the distillery several times over the next few decades, and it eventually came under the ownership of Brown-Forman in 1941. Until now, the Kentucky bourbon has been owned by Brown Forman Corporation. But does bourbon have to be really made in Kentucky?


Woodford Reserve Oak Barrel Both Bulleit and Woodford Reserve bourbon use oak barrels for maturation. However, the type of wood and length of maturation used can impact the final flavor of the bourbon.  For example, Bulleit is matured in charred American white oak barrels for eight to ten years. In contrast, Woodford Reserve is a Kentucky Straight bourbon whiskey matured in deeply charred barrels for seven to nine years. So, while both spirits are matured in barrels, the differences in the maturation process give each bourbon its distinct profile. But what bourbon is similar to Woodford Reserve?

Tasting Notes & Finish

Bulleit Bourbon has a modern take on the classic spirit with both sweet and spicy notes. The oak barrel aging gives the bourbon a robust flavor with subtle sweetness, and its finish is pleasantly warm and rich in nutmeg and cinnamon clove.  On the other hand, Woodford takes a more traditional approach to flavor. The oak barrel aging is still present, but a pronounced spice character balances it. The finish is long and lingering, pleasantly warm with citrus, honey, and vanilla hints. 

Price Comparison

There is about a $10 price difference between the two in Woodford Reserve vs Bulleit Bourbon price point. Bulleit is a budget-friendly option, and it is priced at roughly $30 per bottle. However, if you have a few extra dollars to spend, it is highly recommended to try a bottle of Woodford Reserve that costs around $39.

Mash Bills

Bulleit Bourbon and Woodford Reserve are two of the most popular small-batch bourbons. Both spirits have a mash bill of at least 51% corn which qualifies as bourbons [1], but the similarities end there.  Bulleit Bourbon has a high rye content, giving it a spicy profile with rye grain notes. The small-batch bourbon mash bill contains 28% rye, 68% corn, and 4% malted barley. On the other hand, Woodford has a lower rye content, resulting in a more mellow taste with hints of sweetness. Its mashbill contains 18% rye, 72% corn, and 10% malted barley. Related Posts:

Production & Distillation

Woodford Reserve Production Process Bulleit bourbon has a higher percentage of rye in the mashbill and a longer fermentation process. It uses lower proof and a slower distillation to preserve more of the flavors from the grains.  On the other hand, Woodford uses a sweeter mashbill with a higher percentage of corn. It gives sweetness to the spirits and lingering notes of vanilla and caramel.  In addition, Bulleit bourbon is distilled using a continuous column still, while Woodford is distilled using a pot still.

Food Pairing

The key to food pairing is to find a balance between the sweet notes of the spirit and the food itself. For example, a glass of Woodford has sweet notes of honey and vanilla, making it a great pairing for dishes like Hawaiian pizza, aged parmesan cheese, and dark chocolate.  On the other hand, a glass of Bulleit is a bit more full-bodied, with a richer flavor that pairs well with spicy chicken wings and bacon. So whether you’re serving up a spicy chicken curry or a juicy steak, there’s a bourbon whiskey out there that will complement your meal perfectly.

Alcohol Content

Bulleit Bourbon Cocktail A higher ABV usually means a stronger flavor, while a lower ABV results in a smooth spirit. Let’s have Woodford and Bulleit bourbon whiskey comparison in alcohol content with that in mind.  Bulleit has an ABV of 45%, making it one of the strongest whiskeys on the shelf. On the other hand, Woodford has a slightly lower ABV of 43%. Both are fairly similar and have strong notes of oak and vanilla, with a hint of oak spice when it comes to flavor.


Which is smoother, Woodford or Bulleit? Woodford is smoother than Bulleit because it has lower ABV, lower rye content, and a high percentage of corn content. If you are a huge fan of sweeter bourbon, you will surely get Woodford for your whiskey shelf. On the other hand, Bulleit is spicy and bold with notes of vanilla and orange because of its highest rye content. Which is better for cocktails, Bulleit or Woodford? Woodford Reserve bourbon is better for cocktails compared to Bulleit bourbon whiskey. It has a sweet and caramel palate that some find pairs well with vermouths and other spicy and sweet ingredients often used to make a cocktail drink. However, Bulleit gives a distinct, peppery flavor, but you can try it in Whiskey Sour or Old Fashioned.  Is Bulleit or Woodford Reserve better? The preference between Bulleit and Woodford Reserve depends on personal taste as both are well-regarded bourbons. Bulleit tends to have a high-rye mash bill, offering a spicier flavor profile, while Woodford Reserve is known for its balanced and complex taste with a slightly higher price point. Ultimately, the “better” choice is subjective and based on individual preferences. Why is Bulleit Bourbon so good? Bulleit Bourbon is often praised for its high-rye content, which imparts a bold and spicy flavor profile. It’s also known for its smooth finish and versatility in cocktails, making it a popular choice among bourbon enthusiasts. What whiskey is comparable to Woodford Reserve? Whiskeys like Knob Creek or Four Roses Single Barrel are often considered comparable to Woodford Reserve due to their high-quality ingredients and well-balanced flavor profiles. Is Woodford Reserve a top-shelf whiskey? Yes, Woodford Reserve is generally considered a top-shelf whiskey. It is known for its premium quality, meticulous crafting, and distinctive flavor profile, placing it among the higher echelons of bourbons. Is Bulleit Bourbon better than Jack Daniel’s? The comparison between Bulleit Bourbon and Jack Daniel’s depends on personal preference. Bulleit is known for its spicier profile, while Jack Daniel’s offers a smoother and slightly sweeter taste. Both have distinct characteristics, and the “better” choice is subjective. Why is Woodford Reserve so expensive? Woodford Reserve’s higher price point is attributed to factors such as its careful production process, premium ingredients, and the brand’s commitment to quality. The aging process in new charred oak barrels also contributes to the cost. What is the controversy with Bulleit whiskey? There has been controversy surrounding Bulleit whiskey due to allegations of mistreatment and harassment within the Bulleit family. This has led to discussions about the brand’s association with its founder and the family dynamics. Is Bulleit better than Maker’s Mark? The comparison between Bulleit and Maker’s Mark is subjective. Bulleit, with its higher rye content, offers a spicier profile, while Maker’s Mark is known for its smooth and approachable taste with a sweeter flavor. Is Bulleit Bourbon strong? Bulleit Bourbon is typically bottled at a higher proof, contributing to its bold and robust flavor profile. The alcohol content gives it a strong presence, especially in terms of spiciness. Is Woodford a premium bourbon? Yes, Woodford Reserve is considered a premium bourbon. Its meticulous crafting, attention to detail, and distinct flavor profile contribute to its reputation as a high-quality and premium spirit. Is Bullet a good bourbon? Bulleit Bourbon is generally regarded as a good bourbon, appreciated for its bold flavor, high-rye content, and versatility in cocktails. Its popularity among bourbon enthusiasts speaks to its overall quality. Why is Woodford Reserve so good? Woodford Reserve’s acclaim stems from its careful production process, high-quality ingredients, and attention to detail. The bourbon is known for its well-balanced and complex flavor profile, contributing to its positive reputation. What is considered the best bourbon made? Determining the “best” bourbon is highly subjective, as individual preferences play a significant role. Some highly acclaimed bourbons include Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, and Four Roses Limited Edition releases. The best bourbon is often a matter of personal taste and availability.

Bulleit Bourbon vs Woodford Reserve: the Winner is…

Bulleit and Woodford Reserve bourbon always seem to be at the top of everyone’s list for bourbons. Both spirits are well-respected with a devoted following, but Woodford Reserve bourbon is better than Bulleit bourbon whiskey. Woodford can be a bit more expensive, but it’s also considered one of the smoothest and most drinkable bourbons on the market. But if you’re looking for a bolder flavor, Bulleit can be a great choice. We hope you enjoyed our in-depth review of Bulleit bourbon vs Woodford Reserve!  Reference:
  1. 5 Rules That Make It Bourbon
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