Welcome to Shelf Sleepers, our semi-regular guide to the best booze nobody is buying. This time: Bulleit Blender's Select 001, a compelling argument that whiskey drinkers are blind to quality unless it comes from Buffalo Trace.
In the opening shot of Chappelle's Show's groundbreaking exploration of haters, we're given a brief glimpse into the minds of hordes of whiskey drinkers that have written Bulleit off (through the words of Ice T, the Original Player Hater, no less).
"Real hatin' man, that's like an artform, man. You know it's like you're a born hater, like myself. Lotta cats think they hatin' man, but you know I'm mad at everything..."
This is a neat explanation of the blowback one might receive for suggesting they enjoy Bulleit's whiskey in the company of internet-educated bourbon drinkers. The Diageo-owned company is a lightning rod for Whiskey Haters because it's achieved enormous success relatively quickly and does not disclose where the whiskey it sells comes from (the company built its distillery in 2017, so it should begin releasing its own product soon enough). The rye that made the brand famous — a 95 percent rye, 5 percent malted barley mash — came from MGP, but the rest of its lineup, including a new expression called Blender's Select, is bought stock from other distilleries. Who the hell cares?
(Editor's Note: If you spite Bulleit for the company's negative public image as it relates to the folks who founded the company, then fair enough. Parent company Diageo removed founder Tom Bulleit as the company's public face in 2017 following physical and sexual abuse allegations by his daughter and former Bulleit employee, Hollis B. Worth. More info here.)
Blender's Select 001 is the first release of the brand's new, annually released limited run of whiskey. It's a blend of three distillates — all at least 9 years old — pieced together by Eboni Major, proofed at an even 100. It's state-to-state availability was somewhat limited compared to standard Bulleit product (some 20-odd states, plus D.C.) and it's price was slightly higher ($50 SRP at launch). It's been raved about by nearly every serious reviewer there is, including whiskey's paper of record, Whisky Advocate, naming it the fourth best whiskey of 2020, and my own personal whiskey compass, Jay West (known as t8ke in most places), who has reviewed nearly 2,000 bottles of whiskey now.
If forced to compare Blender's Select to other whiskey, I'd say it's like a slightly spicier Four Roses expression. The whiskey has heavy mint and raspberry vibes on the nose but melts into a caramel-forward, almost condensed milk flavor once tasted. The finish reminds you of the nose with some green smells and lingers on some classic whiskey notes: vanilla, black pepper and oak. Bulleit hater or not, it's worth stashing a bottle for a rainy day.