Bulleit came onto the scene in the 80s when the whiskey landscape was bleak. Armed with a 100-year old family whiskey recipe, Tom Bulleit was a trailblazer who helped change the way we drink whiskey today. But that isn’t the end of it — because Bulleit has continued to strive and thrive in the industry by constantly pushing forward. Bulleit recently opened a new Visitor Experience — a culmination of all the whiskey and knowledge of the Bulleit brand. The experience opened this summer as the 17th stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, and recently hosted the brand’s annual Frontier Fest and was capped off with a set from the band Houndmouth. But the Visitor Experience isn’t just showing off the superb bourbon, it also highlights Bulleit’s commitment to sustainability on its new campus — by making whiskey while also respecting the natural resources that make it possible. We caught up with Eboni Major, Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Blender to learn more about the new Campus and Visitor Experience, what makes the perfect Bulleit cocktail and how the brand stays so consistent.
For more information on the Bulleit Distilling Co. Visitor Experience and to pre-book a tour, click here.
Q: What exactly is a “frontier whiskey”?
Eboni Major (EM): When Bulleit was started in the late 1980s, bourbon was in decline and the majority of brands looked and tasted the same with high corn content recipes. Founder Tom Bulleit broke the mold and created a bourbon with a high-rye mash bill that brought forward a bolder, spicier flavor with a smooth, clean finish that tasted great on its own and when mixed into classic cocktails. That pioneering spirit makes Bulleit a “frontier” whiskey – constantly pushing boundaries to create something new, interesting and unique.
Q: How do you keep Bulleit so consistent when it’s a living and natural process?
EM: While blending comes after maturation, blenders have a hand in the entire whiskey production process for quality control purposes. Our ownership of the liquid from start to finish helps ensure a consistent whiskey product that lives up to our rigorous quality standards and ensures the bottle of Bulleit you buy today tastes the same as the bottle you buy ten years from now.
Q: What’s your go-to Bulleit cocktail?
EM: My all-time favorite cocktail is a Bulleit Blackberry Smash because I love how the high-rye content of our whiskey stands out but doesn’t overpower the fruit in the cocktail. This summer, I experimented a bit with a Peach-Ginger Smash and it was my go-to. Recently, our bar manager at the Visitor Experience has been making me cocktails with Bulleit Bourbon and Rye mixed, which is spectacular.
Q: What’s the most exciting part of the new visitors’center?
EM: The interactive Visitor Experience is designed to provide visitors with a behind-the-scenes look at how Bulleit Bourbon is made and how Bulleit is doing things differently. One of my favorite components is the heightened whiskey tasting experience that we offer. Our whiskey tasting rooms feature immersive sensory elements in scent bulbs and a timed light-and-soundscape, created in partnership with Sonos, which really enhances the flavors that make Bulleit high-rye whiskeys so unique.
Q: How is Bulleit striving to be more sustainable?
EM: We have truly ambitious aspirations for reducing carbon emissions and waste — and improving water stewardship. We use pioneering techniques and technologies to eliminate materials from operations where possible, find agriculture uses for waste such as animal feed from byproduct, recycling and recovering waste for energy such as creating biofuel from stillage. Our facility has made a commitment to source 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. Water conservation is also a top priority, as we depend on Kentucky’s water to create our high-quality bourbon. Water sources, destinations and flows are monitored to maintain proper water balance and water is reused multiple times throughout the cycle.