Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Bulleit bucks the trend and increases ABV of its UK whiskey

Published:  13 December, 2013

News this week that Diageo's Bulleit Bourbon would be changing its UK recipe and introducing a higher ABV is counter to what US bourbon and whiskey brands tend to do in the UK market.

In the past couple of years several American whiskies have been changing the recipes to the whiskies that they currently sell in the UK and not always to the pleasure of their loyal consumers.

More often than not, whiskey companies are not increasing, but lowering the ABV of the whiskey that they sell in the UK. Early this year, Maker's Mark, announced plans to lower the ABV of their bourbon from 45% to 42% and there was such backlash they scrapped the idea.

The reasoning behind such an idea comes down to basic economics.  By lowering the ABV, duties paid in the UK decrease, a single cask can be stretched a bit further and produce more bottles per cask because the whiskey is more diluted, and by bring down duties and increasing production volumes, the cost per bottle goes down, making it more attractively priced to consumers.

Tom Bulleit, the founder of Bulleit Bourbon, explained originally, why they had decided to introduce a lower ABV bourbon from the start to the UK market.

"When we were looking to export to the UK market we knew the Scotch typically had an ABV of around 40%. So we wanted something in line with what people were drinking here and the Scotch culture," said Bulleit. It also did make the bottle more affordable for the on-trade, which helped to gain loyal consumers.

With the rise recently in popularity of whiskey and bourbon, "now was the time to go back to our roots," said Tom and go back to the original recipe that is still produced in the US today with an ABV of 45%, as well as having a cork in the bottle top rather than the screw top.

Bulleit said with the cocktail and food culture in full swing in the UK at the moment it seemed that people would be more open to the authentic recipe even if it was a bit higher priced.

"We are on a journey of connoisseur-ship right now.  It is a food and cocktail culture; some of this is due to the popularity of the cocktail culture in film and television recently, but a lot has to do with the food culture.  We have celebrity chefs and we are now entering an era of celebrity bartenders and mixologists."

This has been part of what has been driving incredible doubling of growth for Bulleit over the last couple of years, with projections of selling over 1 million cases in 2014.

The bottle design is also just a great throw back to what an American whiskey bottle would look like back in 1860s, which is when Tom's great-great-grandfather first started making Bulleit whiskey. 

Bulleit Bourbon was founded in 1987 by Tom Bulleit and has a unique flavour due to the higher than average amount of Rye used in the recipe.