Tom Bulleit is a veritable renaissance man. A Louisville native, he graduated from Trinity High School in St. Matthews, attended UK, served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, and then returned to attend Law School at the University of Louisville. Bulleit is also a Kentucky Colonel, appointed by Gov. Ernie Fletcher in 2006. After many years of successfully practicing law, Bulleit decided to embark on a new journey.
His great great grandfather, Augustus Bulleit, was a tavern keeper in the 1800s in Louisville. He developed the original small-batch, high-rye bourbon recipe that the current formula strives to emulate. As the legend goes, he vanished one day while transporting barrels of bourbon down the river.
In 1988, Bulleit left his law practice to start a bourbon label. He was advised by his colleagues, "don't give up the day job until the night one comes on." Fortunately for all us bourbon lovers, he didn't listen. Armed with only a family legend, he built what is now a small bourbon empire. The story alone makes Bulleit Bourbon worth a try. The high rye mash bill makes a juice that is spicier than the average bourbon. They also have a great rye.
After many successful years of building his bourbon brand, The Greater Louisville Pride Foundation has now honored Tom Bulleit with the 22nd "Hometown Heroes" Mural in Louisville. This one is located on Third Street between Market and Main. He takes his place beside such Louisville legends as Diane Sawyer and Muhammad Ali.
The growth in the bourbon industry in recent years is due largely to people like Tom Bulleit who are taking the time to resurrect and promote Kentucky's native spirit. In addition to helping to grow the bourbon industry, Bulleit is also working on a project to combine the Kentucky Bourbon Trail with a similar equine trail. As Bulleit reports, Disney company officials remarked of the project, "you've already built the infrastructure. You just forgot to invite the people!"
Congratulations to Tom Bulleit on this momentous day. There will be many more days like these for the bourbon heroes.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl and Bulleit's Facebook Page