By James Atkinson
The return of Bulleit bourbon to the Diageo portfolio should help realise its full potential in the Australian market, according to founder Tom Bulleit, who relaunched the brand to the liquor trade press last night.
Along with a number of other brands, Bulleit rejoins Diageo on February 1, after Diageo announced late last year it would end its long-term distribution agreement with Vok Beverages.
In Australia for the transition, Tom Bulleit told TheShout the new arrangement came as Bulleit reached a position of unprecedented strength in the North American market.
"We're distributed in all 50 states, in the vast majority of on-premises accounts," he said.
"There's a huge potential in the Australian market to expand."
Bulleit said the brand had developed a cult following among bartenders in the U.S., with its unique mash mix well suited to cocktails.
While few bourbons have rye content of more than 10 or 12 per cent, Bulleit is comprised of 28 per cent rye.
"Certainly we have the highest rye recipe, far and away, of any bourbon in any category of any type," Bulleit told TheShout.
Bulleit said the brand is also unique in that only ethyl alcohol is used in the distillation process, and it is aged for between six and eight years – as compared with the standard four-year ageing process in mainstream brands.
Tom Bulleit (right) with Charlie Downing, Bulleit senior brand manager.
The Frontier-style packaging also stands out, Bulleit added, with its raised glass lettering and often crooked label.
"We really wanted the package to reflect the heritage of the brand and the quality of the liquid, it's got a great shelf presence, so we do very well in the liquor stores in the United States as well," Bulleit said.
The Bulleit brand complements Diageo's existing whisky portfolio, giving customers a premium option in addition to its other bourbon brand, Slate.
Bulleit Bourbon RTDs with refreshed packaging will be available through Diageo from March, with Bulleit Rye Whiskey set to make its Australian debut in July.