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The Complete List Of Every Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon Batch

The Complete List Of Every Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon Batch

Bulleit puts out an annual Barrel Strength release every year where they batch together a bunch of 5 to 8-year-old barrels and bottle them up with no chill filtration. The result is a bourbon which should theoretically be different every year, but should have a bold and unmistakable flavor profile.

Bulleit sources 10 different recipes (5 high-rye recipes and 5 low-rye recipes) and blends them together for their standard releases. I think it’s a safe assumption that all 10 recipes find their way into each batch of their Barrel Strength Bourbon.

If that was truly the case, one could argue that they are missing out on the opportunity to create their own version similar to what Four Roses does with their annual Small Batch Limited Edition Bourbon. While it might not have the maturity or the clout that 4R SmBLE has, it could certainly be a fun experiment to show enthusiasts how different they can make this release.

Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon’s odd approach to marketing

In 2015, Tom Bulleit – the man who brought Bulleit back into mainstream – was apparently making his rounds to bars and people in the industry to give them a taste of his new product. It was the barrel strength version of Bulleit Bourbon. He saw that a lot of big brands had recently released their own barrel strength products and decided to take a shot with his.

What’s odd is that all of the publications that reviewed the bourbon he handed out reported it as being 119.2 proof. Even on Bulleit’s website the second image from the top shows a bottle wearing the 119.2 proof label. But this was never a batch that was released to the public. It seems to only exist as a batch that he had to promote the new label.

Instead, the very first batch that was released was 119.0 Proof (59.5% ABV). The label that Batch 01 wore would change after it was released with all future batches getting a batch number printed on the right-hand side of the front label. So if your batch doesn’t have a batch number, it’s Batch 01.

What’s also odd is that I spotted another media sample that was given to Brian Haara of Sipp’n Corn which claims the proof is 119.4 (59.7% ABV). From all of my research, that batch has never gone on sale either.

A sample review from 2017

Now you could take this information one of two ways. The first is that the team at Bulleit had pulled some samples from a batch before it was released. But they waited for a while before releasing the batch which allowed for the bourbon in the tank to change slightly. This has happened in the past with other brands with the most famous example being the domestic 2017 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch being 108 proof but all of the European export versions being 107.3 proof. Sometimes proof can go up or down in the tank over time which might necessitate a label change.

This could mean that even if the media personalities were given samples from the real batch, that the profile and proof might not match the standard release when it came out.

The second (and more conspiracy-minded) way you could look at this is that reviewers were given a “special batch” of Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon that may have been blended with only the best barrels. This could have been done to pad early reviews to try and sell more bottles. What do you think?

Batch 01

119.0 Proof

Released in 2016

Special Notes: This batch does not wear a batch number. Instead, it has both the ABV and the Proof on the left side of the front label. It also has “750ml” listed on the right side of the label.

Batch 02

125.4 Proof

Released in 2017

Special Notes: This Batch is the first batch to wear a batch number. The proof was removed from the label. Instead, only ABV and volume are displayed on the left.

Batch 03

123.4 Proof

Release Date 2018

Batch 03 and Batch 04 seem to have been released at the same in 2018. The earliest reviews for both batches are from early 2018. They also are the exact same proof!

Batch 04

123.4 Proof

Release Date 2018

So this gets confusing because Batch 04 is not only the same proof as Batch 03, but it was released in the same year as well – 2018. The first review (with picture for proof) even has a date stamp of early 2018! I cannot explain why Bulleit released the same bourbon with the same proof in the same year and gave them two different batch numbers. It’s weird, right?

Batch 05

125.4 Proof

Released in 2020

The first thing to note is that Batch 05’s proof is exactly the same as Batch 02’s. You’d think that would be statistically impossible with large batches of bourbon but, ummm, I guess it’s not. It’s just another strange coincidence for a bourbon that already has way too many strange coincidences.

Batch 06

116.6 Proof

Released in 2021

This is the lowest-proofed Bulleit Barrel Strength release yet. This bottle also gets a slight tweak to the label. Instead of the words “Barrel Strength” being black and surrounded by an orange box, the words are now orange.

Batch 07

120.2 Proof

Released in 2022

Nothing much to say about this batch. You can read my review here.

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