Diageo’s recent foray into offering single barrel expressions of Bulleit bourbon had many of our readers questioning the true origin of those barrels. With a hang tag that comments on their “unique” 10 different recipes of high rye bourbon, their 2 mashbills, and 5 yeast strains, it’s no secret that the brand is sounding incredibly similar to another well-loved distillery’s operation. Word is that Diageo knew they would get some heat from bourbon aficionado’s around the world for this, particularly the massive social media groups devoted to America’s native spirit. To make sure they differentiated their offering from the aforementioned beloved distillery, they apparently have kept a secret 6th yeast strain for what until now dear readers has been a super top secret new release. You’re hearing it hear first folks, 2021 will see the release of Bulleit’s first ever expression in the booming segment of flavored whiskey.
It seems back when Diageo reopened the Stitzel Weller distillery in 2014, an employee stumbled across an orphaned Superman lunchbox. Noted historian Marsha Time dated the lunchbox as 1954, based upon its blue trim and cover design featuring Superman fighting a robot. Upon opening the dusty and rusty time capsule, a petrified cinnamon roll was discovered. Somehow it remained perfectly intact - if not a bit hard - without any signs of mold or bacteria. Sensing they had another Orphan Barrel opportunity on their hands, Diageo was quick to have a chemical analysis done on the cinnamon roll and were able to identify a yeast strain in the dough that was thought to have been lost forever.
Turns out the yeast was one that originated with Charles Pillsbury and as luck would have it, was used in breadmaking by a Bulleit family member who worked in the Pillsbury factory as a baker’s apprentice in the late 1800’s. That family member, Tom Bulleit’s great, great 2nd cousin Thadeus Bulleit, apparently had a penchant for eating raw bread dough and there are some who say the Pillsbury Doughboy was actually inspired by his legend. Fortunately for Bulleit lovers around the world, through proprietary technology, Diageo was able to extract the yeast from the cinnamon roll to the point they could use it in the bourbon making process.
In a mash up made sweeter than a Hallmark movie, Diageo negotiated with Pillsbury to use the recovered yeast strain, along with the legendary Pillsbury cinnamon roll recipe to create Bulleit Cinnamon Roll Bourbon. It will use both of Bulleti’s high-rye mash bills, each with the Pillsbury yeast strain, and will be aged in charred oak barrels. The kicker here is the finishing though, which has never been attempted by any distiller to our knowledge. The matured bourbon will then age for 3-4 weeks in 53-gallon Pillsbury cinnamon roll tubes.
Word is that Bulleit Cinnamon Roll bourbon will hit stores in the fall of 2021, when baking spices are at the height of popularity. Labels are being worked on, but we have an exclusive mockup of one of the early favorites from what we’re told.