I admit, when it comes to bourbon, I am a huge fan of Wild Turkey. Not only it has a really cool name, and you can feel quite cool when ordering your Turkey in bar , but it is also an expertly crafted bourbon that balances the rich corny, bourbon sweetness and rye spiciness. The Bourbon that started it all for me, so it has a strong sentimental value and attachment. Whenever I pick up a bottle, I am always on a thin line between keeping it on the shelf and unwrapping and drinking this fantastic bourbon. Needless to say, the bottle never lasts long.
Made in Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, there is a clever story behind the brand`s name. Apparently, one of the Austin, Nichols ( the company that owns the distillery) executives, Thomas McCarthy was an avid sportsman and every year, he would take his mates on a wild turkey hunt in South Carolina. One year he was asked to bring some whiskey from the distillery, so he grabbed undiluted 101 proof bourbon straight from the barrel. His friends liked the product so much, that the next year, they asked him to once again bring “that wild turkey bourbon”. Being a businessmen with advertising background, it didn`t took long for McCarthy to market this product as Wild Turkey Bourbon. And so the legend was born.
Master distillers who work at the Wild Turkey distillery are the Russells – Jimmy and Eddie. Jimmy Russell is an industry legend for being the worlds longest active master distiller at for over 60 years at Wild Turkey. In 2015, after 35 years of working at the distillery, his son, Eddie became the Master Distiller, maintaining the tradition and craftsmanship of his father. Bourbon runs through the veins of this family, it seems.
In 2016, they launched an advertising campaign with Mathew McConaughey as the Creative Director and the celebrity spokesman for the brand. I must say he is an excellent choice, and I couldn`t imagine anyone else being bad-ass and cool enough to advertise such a cool brand.
Alright, alright, alright, enough of the introduction and history, let`s find out what makes this bourbon so special and dear to my heart.
The colour is deep brown gold, which hints towards a patient aging process. On the nose, the first thing you notice is that it is very sweet and warm, and the aroma that comes to mind is heated apple cider, some citrus peel, perhaps lime and orange, spices, hints of coconut and butter cookies.
First sip – I thought that 50 % ABV is going to burn me up, but it is surprisingly smooth, without the added water or ice, it is rich in flavour and easily drinkable. The only thing that you can profit from is if you leave the poured Turkey in a glass for some time before sipping on it. When it catches some air, you are in for a treat of cooked fruit, such as plums or apples with cinnamon and allspice, and some chocolate. On occasion, I found leather, and something sweet and nutty, peanut butter perhaps.
The finish is long, warm, and satisfying, with pepper and spices drying up the sweet notes from the sip, achieving the perfect balance and making Wild Turkey 101 the perfect slow sipping bourbon for the afternoon.
Because of the spiciness, it goes well in cocktails like Old Fashion. I`ve made an experimental Turkey Sour with ginger and orange infused simple syrup and it was delicious, as it takes all of the notes on a higher level.
The Wild Turkey has several editions, while the most popular one is Wild Turkey 101, bottled at 50,5% ABV, of which I am writing today. Other editions include Wild Turkey Bourbon ( previously Wild Turkey 81, bottled at a lower proof), Rye and Rye 101 editions, some premium editions such as Rare Breed and Kentucky Spirit, a bourbon based honey liquor, the American Honey. In honour of the Russells contribution to the distillery and the quality of the product, The Russell Reserve brand was also established.
I have to mention the price: 25€ for a 1 litre bottle, it is one of the best bourbons you can get in that price range, and I can`t encourage you enough to try it out, and those of you who already have, well… no recommendation is needed.