Liquor Laboratory

Bulleit Rye vs Bourbon: What’s the Difference? (2024)

Bulleit Rye vs Bourbon

Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Bulleit is an American brand famous for its whiskeys, from straight bourbon to rye whiskey. These two types of whiskey are both popular, but they have a huge difference in taste.

This in-depth comparison between Bulleit rye vs bourbon will help you understand their key differences. Read on to find out.

Bulleit Rye vs Bourbon: Which is the Better Option 

close up shot of Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye bottles

Based on our blind-tasting tests, Bulleit rye is the better option because of its rich, spicy notes yet smooth texture.

It has enough sweetness to balance the bold, spicy profile of the rye, making it more inviting and easier to drink.

On the other hand, Bulleit bourbon is a better sipper of the two but lacks its traditional bourbon sweetness.

It has a full, warm mouthfeel with hints of spices. The finish is long but has more lingering spice and other robust flavors.

How Are They Different?

History & Origin

The first batch of Bulleit bourbon was founded around 1830. It was discontinued after the original creator, Agustus Bulleit, died. 

But the Bulleit Distillery began distilling again in 1987 with Agustus great-great-grandson, Tom Bulleit. Tom ran the Bulleit family business until 1997 when they joint with Seagrams. 

Meanwhile, Bulleit rye was only launched in March 2011 [1]. It was made due to the pubic demand of avid fans of Bulleit to launch high-quality rye whiskey.

Bulleit rye was developed by Tom Bulleit and his daughter Hollis for Bulleit’s line extension. 

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Production Proces

The different tastes and flavors of Bulleit bourbon and rye are because of their production processes and mash bills. 

A Bulleit bourbon has 68% corn, 28% rye, and 4% malted barley and is bottled at 45% ABV. It has a special yeast strain and pure Kentucky limestone filtered water in its production process. 

On the contrary, Bulleit rye is a distilled sourced rye of MGP Indiana. It contains 95% of rye and 5% of malted barley in its mash bill but is also bottled at 45% ABV. 

Maturation & Age Statement

barrel cask storage

All bourbons, including Bulleit rye and bourbon whiskey, must be aged in new, charred oak barrels.

Bulleit rye and bourbon have no specific age statement. But bourbon must be aged for at least two years to be considered a straight bourbon.

Bulleit rye is aged for a minimum of four to seven years, while Bulleit Bourbon is typically aged between six to eight years. 

Tasting Notes

Bulleit Rye

Palate: A smooth hint of vanilla and honey with a pop of orange peel and spiciness.

Nose: Rich oaky aromas with fresh peppery mint that follows a bright and lively scent of pine

Color: It has a yellow hay clear color feature.

Finish: It has a clean and crisp long finish with lingering flavors and a dry aftertaste.

Bulleit Bourbon

Palate: It has a smooth and sweet caramel opening with a creamy mouthfeel and tones of peppery oak.

Nose: Sweet aromas of vanilla and caramel with notes of spiciness, smoky and oaky hints

Color: It has features of medium amber in color.

Finish: Long and dry finish with notes of butterscotch, lingering spice, and peppery hints.

Ownership & Distillery 

Bulleit Distillery

Bulleit rye and bourbon are owned by an international spirits company Diageo, which owns recognizable brands in its portfolio. However, Bulleit rye and bourbon don’t have the same distillery.

Bulleit rye is a sourced rye distilled from Lawrenceburg, Indiana, a famed MGP facility and the former Seagrams Distillery.

On the other hand, Bulleit bourbon is distilled at Bulleit Distillery in Kentucky. In 2017, they added Bulleit Distilling Co., located in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Price & Value

Bulleit rye and bourbon have the same price range in the market. They are both around $33 for a 750ml bottle. Even though MGP distills Bulleit rye whiskey, Bulleit has oversight of the maturation of their unique barrels. 

After it reaches its optimum age, Bulleit mingles its 12-year-old bourbon and its no-age-statement rye. This mingling process makes Bulleit rye unique at a fair price with their bourbons.

FAQs Related to Bulleit Rye vs Bourbon

Does Bulleit rye have less sugar than Bulleit bourbon?

Yes, Bulleit rye has less sugar than Bulleit bourbon. Rye whiskey has a more intense and spicier profile than bourbon.
Although Bulleit rye and bourbon don’t contain real sugars, rye has less sweetness because of its mash bill compared to bourbon.

Which is better in Old Fashioned, Bulleit rye or bourbon?

Bulleit bourbon is better and the most commonly used liquor for an Old-Fashioned cocktail.
Bourbon Old Fashioned has some bitters with a taste like a sweetened whiskey. However, if you’re into a slightly spicier Old-Fashioned drink, Bulleit rye is a better choice.

What’s the difference between Bulleit Rye vs Bourbon?

Bulleit Rye is made primarily from rye grain, giving it a spicier flavor profile, while Bulleit Bourbon is made predominantly from corn, resulting in a sweeter taste with hints of vanilla and caramel.

Which one is smoother, Bulleit Rye or Bourbon? 

Bulleit Bourbon is generally considered smoother due to its higher corn content, which contributes to a softer and sweeter flavor profile compared to the spicier Bulleit Rye.

Can you use Bulleit Rye and Bourbon interchangeably in cocktails? 

While both Bulleit Rye and Bourbon can be used in cocktails, their distinct flavor profiles may affect the taste of the final drink. Bulleit Rye’s spiciness pairs well with cocktails like the Manhattan, while Bulleit Bourbon’s sweetness complements drinks like the Old Fashioned.

Which Bulleit whiskey is better for sipping neat? 

This ultimately depends on personal preference. Some may prefer the bold and spicy character of Bulleit Rye for sipping neat, while others may favor the smoother and sweeter profile of Bulleit Bourbon.

Which Bulleit whiskey is more popular, Rye or Bourbon? 

Bulleit Bourbon is generally more popular and widely available than Bulleit Rye, but both have dedicated fan bases and are esteemed choices in the whiskey world.


Bulleit bourbon is better if you want a better sipper. But Bulleit rye is a great option if you’re looking for a blast of spice in your drink.

Bulleit rye has a strong consistency with a spicier finish, while bourbon is sweeter and mellower. 

Both Bulleit rye and bourbon are excellent and delicious to enjoy either neat, on the rocks, or as a base for your classic cocktails.

But whatever its flavor profile, both of these whiskeys are good. It just depends on the person’s taste which they prefer more.


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