Wild Turkey 101 Rye Background
Wild Turkey starting making rye about 25 years or so ago and it was a boutique product compared to the Bourbon side of things. A few years back rye saw a big spike in popularity and as a result Wild Turkey 101 Rye fell into short supply. In 2012 Wild Turkey introduced a younger lower proof rye with its Wild Turkey 81 Rye. The problem was simply supply had run short and Wild Turkey needed time to age more barrels. Wild Turkey 101 Rye is about 6-7 years old, but lacks an official age statement. Supply finally started to catch up late 2013 and Wild Turkey introduced a new 1-liter bottle of Wild Turkey 101 Rye.
Wild Turkey has an interesting history as a subsidiary of a New York-based grocery store. Austin Nichols bought bulk whiskey and sold it under its own brand. What’s known today as the Wild Turkey Distillery eventually became a sole source for whiskey and Austin Nichols bought the distillery. The acquisition was during the darker days of Bourbon and it was to ensure a steady supply of whiskey.
One noteworthy bit about Wild Turkey is they’re known to have a lower entry-proof. Meaning the product is a lower proof as it comes off the still and goes into the barrel. That lower entry proof carries more flavor from the mash and gives Wild Turkey products a bit distinct flavor.
No age statement. Bottled at 101-proof. Rumored 65% rye. Paid $35
Caramel, Doublemint Gum. A little pine sap. Some graham cracker. Vanilla and cinnamon. Wood char. I’m really liking what’s coming out of this glass.
Nice peppery spice with lots of caramel. Nice sweetness for a rye. Some red hot cinnamon and a menthol/mint that lingers after the finish. Nice woody oak character that melds with char. Barrel character is a bit drying. Nice mouthfeel.
It’s got a little roughness to it similar to the Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon. It’s the signature Wild Turkey thing that I really dig. A ton of flavor here and real nice pour. I like to leave the water out of this one and just enjoy it as-is.
It drinks like a big rye Bourbon, which not uncommon I think for the “barely legal” range of straight ryes. If you’re looking for something with a more distinct rye flavor you could look for some younger bottles and also something in the 90%+ rye. I like big rye Bourbons though and this price is pretty nice, considering you’re buying a handle.
Buy Again – 4.0/5.0 Rating
(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)
Buying Options and Further Research
Prorate Wild Turkey 101 Rye down for a 750ml bottle and it’s sits on the same price shelf as Rittenhouse, Old Overholt, and Sazerac Rye 6 Year Old. Those four are similar I think in price and rye percentage for comparison. Wild Turkey 101 Rye is my choice between the four both in flavor and value. Also worth mentioning the Wild Turkey 81 Rye. For me that will save about $5 when factoring in the volume differences. I think the 101 is $5 better.