The Book

In April 2020, Tom Bulleit published his biography, “Bulleit Proof: How I Took a 150-Year-Old Family Recipe and a Revolver, and Disrupted the Entire Liquor Industry One Bottle, One Sip, One Handshake at a Time.”  If you are curious as to whether or not the book contains any details on the allegations leveled by Hollis Bulleit against her father, it does not.  The timeline of the book largely ends in 2017, the point in time in which Hollis Bulleit went public with her allegations.  Hollis is a very minor character in Bulleit Proof.

So, what is the book?  Bulleit Proof is a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit of Tom Bulleit.  Bulleit details numerous important chapters in his life.  The book outlines the path Tom Bulleit took from his early desire to recreate Augustus Bulleit’s bourbon recipe.  Some of these chapters directly involve whiskey and other chapters have very little relevance to whiskey.  We get a glimpse at the military history of the Bulleit family, including Tom.  We get information about Bulleit’s military service in Vietnam.  We get some family information, a lot revolving around adoptions in the Bulleit family.  Tom Bulleit was adopted, an adoptive parent, and eventually meets his birth mother.  Tom sheds a lot of light on his marriage with Betsy Bulleit…all three of the marriage ceremonies.   By far, the longest and most detailed chapter of the book is an accounting of Tom’s battle with cancer.

The Dram

Bulleit Blender’s Select is the newest extension of the Bulleit line.  There will be multiple batches of Blender’s Select.  This expression comes in at 100 proof and is a new blend of the three of the ten bourbons that Bulleit has at its disposal.   Blender’s Select does not carry an age statement, but it is reported that all bourbons are at least 9 years old.

The book concludes with the opening of Bulleit’s own distillery in 2017.  Along the way, you’ll learn about Tom’s rocky start with Thoroughbread, all of the money issues, but mostly all of the “falling upward” as Bulleit puts it.  You’ll learn about the transition from entrepreneur, to Seagram, and finally to Diaegeo.  Tom tells the story of how the concept of Frontier Whiskey was created.  Tom also goes into a lot of detail about the design of the packaging.   Bulleit Bourbon is wildly popular with bartenders, thus Tom goes into a lot of detail about how he specifically targeted bartenders to increase Bulleit’s early popularity and sales.

Each chapter starts with a “Bulleit Point”.  Each of these points is a statement or mantra that is very personal to Tom Bulleit.  Tom goes into detail through each chapter as to why the Bulleit Point is very important to him and how it impacted his life.  Any entrepreneur can find some inspiration and motivation in these Bulleit Points, even if not planning on starting a bourbon brand.

Bulleit Proof is 199 pages in length and a very enjoyable read.  Each chapter is broken into small sections that make it good for reading in small bursts.  I think you will thoroughly enjoy this book.  Pour yourself a glass of Bulleit, or more appropriately, mix a cocktail with Bulleit and sit back to read. 

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