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Bulleit Bourbon vs Old Forester 86: Which Wins?

Discover the differences between Bulleit Bourbon vs Old Forester 86 in this in-depth comparison and decide which bourbon is better for You!

Bulleit Bourbon

NoseCinnamon, clove, nutmeg, almond
PalateRye spice, caramel, dried fruit, nuts
FinishLong, caramel, rye spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toKnob Creek, Maker’s Mark, New Riff

The nose provides a blast of rye spice at first, followed by hints of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.

On the palate, the Bulleit Bourbon has a good texture. Flavor feels spicy on the first sip product of the high rye presence in the mash, but as you let it develop it becomes rich in dried fruit and tasty nutty notes.

There is some warmth on the finish yet pleasant, rich in spice, oak, with some sweet notes coming late to the party.

Bulleit is well rounded, sweet on the palate, with a strong spicy finish due to the large portion of rye used in the mash bill.

Spicier than the typical bourbon but smoother than a rye whiskey, making it a good option for those who want rye spice in moderation.

Bulleit Bourbon (Substitutes) makes a good sipper as you can drink it either neat or rocks and also mixes nicely in an Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour as rye makes cocktails more satisfying.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Bulleit Bourbon:

  • Mash bill is made from 68% corn, 28% rye and 4% malted barley.
  • It is made from pure Kentucky limestone-filtered water and locally sourced ingredients.
  • Bulleit ages for 6 years in charred American oak barrels.
  • Won Double Gold medal at the 2016 edition of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
  • This brand was created in 1987 by Tom Bulleit, a former Four Roses employee, using his grandfather’s recipe.

Old Forester 86

NoseBrown sugar, caramel, ethanol
PalateVanilla, banana, oak, spice
FinishCaramel, oak
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toOld Forester 100, Buffalo Trace

The nose kicks-off with a sharp ethanol hit that quickly fades into a sweet scent of brown sugar and caramel.

On the palate, the Old Forester 86 has a decent body showing a medium texture. Flavor is smooth and a bit musty, with hints of vanilla, banana, cinnamon and a dash of charred oak spice providing a bitter note.

The finish is short-lived, with caramel and oak to it with very little to no warmth.

It drinks nicely neat or rocks and the little higher than average proof (86) makes it a good option for an affordable cocktail.

Old Forester 86 is an easy drinker with nothing remarkable or off-putting, getting the job done providing good value for the money.

Way better than other budget bourbons like Jim Beam or Jack Daniel’s that have odd tasting notes, but lacking the complexity of whiskeys like the Buffalo Trace which is priced a bit higher.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Old Forester 86:

  • Bottled at 86 proof.
  • Does not have an age statement, but is around 4 years.
  • The mash bill is comprised of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley.
  • This was the first bottled bourbon sold in sealed glass bottles instead of from barrels, to ensure consistent quality.
  • Old Forester has been on the market continuously since 1870, which is longer than any other bourbon.
  • Old Forester was launched in 1870 by George Garvin Brown and named for Dr. William Forrester, who prescribed bourbon to his patients.
  • Crafted at the Brown-Forman Distillery in Shively, KY.
  • This brand is owned by Brown-Forman which also holds Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve.

Bulleit Bourbon vs Old Forester 86: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Bulleit Bourbon$33
Old Forester 86$24

Bulleit Bourbon vs Old Forester 86: Which is better?

Bulleit Bourbon is a more complex and demanding bourbon

WhiskeyBulleit BourbonOld Forester 86
  • The Bulleit is a more versatile pour as you can sip it neat, rocks or use it as a mixer for spicy cocktails.
  • Yet more demanding as the rich spicy note can be more challenging for some consumers.
  • Much more spicy than the Old Forester but quite restrained when compared to a Rye Whiskey.
  • Old Forester is a more basic, plain vanilla bourbon, making a great option for an easy and affordable pour.

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