On the Rye Side

Maybe the gloomy weather much of the year makes Seattleites so fond of bourbon and other brown spirits. However, even in summer, guests at the recent Bulleit Bourbon launch at the Washington Athletic Club seemed eager to quaff it on the rocks, neat, and mixed with ginger ale. "Very well mingled," is how John Costello, the bar manager at Waterfront Seafood Grill, described Bulleit's taste profile at the launch party. "It's very smooth, not harsh and not sweet." He plans to use it in a drink called the Metropolitan, made with bourbon and Lillet ($10). Waterfront carries at least 20 bourbons (priced $5.50 to $54). Currently in 40 states since its February 1999 debut, Bulleit has an "extremely high rye content that makes it full-bodied and gives it great depth of flavor and dryness," explains Chris Musumeci, senior brand manager for Bulleit. When asked if there was room for another bourbon on our market, Musumeci responded that the premium bourbon category has been growing by 18 percent a year for the past three years. While Bulleit is aged a minimum of six years (the legal minimum is two), it doesn't come with an aggressively premium price tag. Eryn Paull, an owner at MirĂ¡, carries Bulleit as one of seven bourbons ($5 to $9). She sees customers mostly drinking it on the rocks or in cocktails like the Manhattan ($9). "You don't get that alcohol burn, and it has a great woody flavor," she says. While Bulleit's marketing bills Bulleit as "frontier whiskey" that "connects with the outdoor, adventure-focused Washington consumer," Paull thinks its appeal here lies elsewhere. "Seattleites are really into microbrews and indie films; Bulleit has its own label [and style] and people appreciate it." lzimmerman@seattleweekly.com

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