Tag Archives: Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon – Review

Wild Turkey Rare Breed – Background

Wild Turkey Rare Breed BourbonWild Turkey Rare Breed is a barrel proof Bourbon blended from barrels around 6, 8, and 12 years old. Wild Turkey doesn’t rotate barrels, so the mix of barrels among floors and spread of ages gives Wild Turkey a pallet of ingredients. Wild Turkey 101 is a similar formulation to Wild Turkey Rare Breed, but from barrels 6, 7, and 8 years old and diluted to 101-proof. This variety of Bourbons offers a range of flavors from the lively younger Bourbon that’s dominated by roasted corn flavors and a bite, to the more mellow and oaky older Bourbons.

It’s also worth noting the lower proof on this barrel-proof Bourbon. Barrel Proof means no water is added to the Bourbon after it’s dumped from the barrels. Wild Turkey’s entry proof going into barrels is lower than typical from other distilleries, so the resulting Bourbon is lower proof too. Wild Turkey has raised the proof over the years to better ensure it can hit 101 proof for its most popular Bourbons, but is thought to still be lower than most distilleries. The entry proof isn’t known officially, but given the low-ish proof here, this certainly seems to hold true. It’s also important to note that this means each batch of Wild Turkey Rare Breed will have a slightly different proof simply because of how things work out after the barrels are brought together.

This lower entry proof delivers greater flavors from the mash and fermentation as higher proof means more of those elements are distilled out. I think this, along with Wild Turkey’s yeast and recipe, gives Wild Turkey its distinct flavor.

Details

No age statement. 108.2-proof. Batch WT-03RB. Thought to be mash recipe of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. Paid $41

Summary

Rich and spicy. Roasted corn and oak comes through and lots of caramel. It dances in the mouth with a creamy texture and and a dry finish.

Overall

If you like Wild Turkey 101, you should really like Wild Turkey Rare Breed. I sort of think of Wild Turkey Rare Breed as super-sized Wild Turkey 101. Wild Turkey Rare Breed has the same basic formula from across the different floors of their warehouses, but with older Bourbons. Then it’s left uncut to offer up whatever comes out of the barrel. I think Wild Turkey Rare Breed is very enjoyable and a great selection to experience Wild Turkey. I enjoy this one straight from the bottle, but it’s also nice with a little water or club soda. Diluting it a bit brings out more sweetness and smooths out some of the rough edges.

All of Wild Turkey’s Bourbons, except maybe the more mellow Russell’s Reserve Small Batch, are bold and flavorful. Wild Turkey Rare Breed is no exception, but with a little extra. The older Bourbon in there and that extra proof that seems make it stand out from the rest of Wild Turkey’s lineup.

Trying to make order of the various Wild Turkey Bourbons to me is a bit of a challenge. Across the board, I find I like Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel the best, but it also has the highest price point. Go figure, right? Given the cheaper price, I’d put Wild Turkey Rare Breed right in there as a buying option. Depending on your preference, you may like or not prefer the range of flavors with the rougher younger Bourbon and more woody older Bourbons.

Recommendation

4.0/5.0 – Buy Again

(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

I like to offer some options for similar Bourbons around this price. Feel free to investigate other reviews for further research.

I think starting with Wild Turkey 101 is a good first step, then give Wild Turkey Rare Breed a try. Generally though I try to group high proof Bourbons together, so you may want to also check out Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, Booker’s, Stagg Jr, Knob Creek Single Barrel, Old Grand-Dad 114, and if you can find it, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. I think too it’s worth checking out Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, and Russell’s Reserve 10 Year.

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Review

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Background

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel

Launched in 2013, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel comes in at 110-proof and is non-chilled filtered. I find Wild Turkey’s lineup to be a little confusing with some overlap. Russell’s Reserve has become its own brand that to me has some parallels to the Wild Turkey brands. Perhaps making it a little more confusing, to me Wild Turkey has a distinctive flavor profile so they all have shared traits. I enjoy them all, so the goal with Wild Turkey Bourbons may be simply finding the flavor you like best at a favorable price.

How I wrap my head around Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, and I could be wrong, is I see it as a premium single barrel version of Wild Turkey Rare Breed, but a little older like Russell’s Reserve 10 Year. Maybe. We do know though that Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is selected from “center cut” barrels, meaning barrels from the middle floors of the aging warehouses. Wild Turkey uses seven story warehouses and the Russells feel the middle floors are the sweet spot of their inventory. The upper floors get hotter and age faster with more robust flavors and lower floors age slower and more mellow.

The bottle shown here is actually their old label as the Russell’s Reserve labels recently were revamped. The old label here is kind of funny saying a small batch single barrel, which I guess is the smallest batch possible, technically. The new labels I think help unify the Russell’s Reserve brand and appears to also clean up the superfluous buzzwords.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 110-Proof. Mash recipe of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. $53 Shelf Price

Aroma

Vanilla, Grainy, caramel, orange peel, toast, cinnamon,

Flavor

Toffee, oranges, Werther’s Originals. Berries. A bunch of spices. Some nail polish remover. Dark roasted flavors. Viscous, soft and creamy. Woody tannins coming towards the finish. Grainy and roasted corn.

Overall

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel seems a bit of a contradiction. It’s got some of that signature big flavor and zip of Wild Turkey, but it also quite full and creamy backed up by sweet caramel flavors. It doesn’t seem like a 110-proof Bourbon to me, but at the same time flavor is big and bold with just some rough edges towards the finish. I’m getting a little roasted bitterness, some alcohol, and tannic bite that leave a little cotton mouth. Between there is a sweet caramel goodness and full-flavored barrel char.

If there’s ever a case to be made for higher proof Bourbons skipping the chilled filter process, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel would seem to be a good example. Chill filtering is a practice of crashing the temperature of Bourbon near freezing and running it through plate filter. Proteins, fatty acids, and other stuff precipitate out of solution at lower temperatures and then get filtered out. If they’re not chilled and filtered, they could appear as a haze or clumps in your glass when ice is added. But this is only an issue for below 90-proof or so, and even then it’s largely a cosmetic phenomena. Filtering may make whiskey more visually appealing under certain conditions, but it also strips away components that lend to mouthfeel and perhaps also flavor.

Anyway, I’m a fan here of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel. I think Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is a nice step up from Wild Turkey Rare Breed, and Wild Russell’s Reserve 10 Year. I could also toss in Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, which in my mind is basically an older single barrel version of Wild Turkey 101. Basically, I think Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is my favorite from Wild Turkey, although the other’s listed have their respective charms and value.

I feel like you can get the Wild Turkey experience for less, so Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel pricing I think is a little high, but at the same time reasonable for what appears to be a top tier bottle. The few things towards the finish have me hedging a bit, but everything else is plenty to enjoy.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0 out of 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

I like to offer some options for similar Bourbons around this price. Feel free to investigate other reviews for further research.

If we call this a high proof Bourbon, some similar options may be Booker’s, Stagg Jr, Knob Creek Single Barrel, and if you can find it, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. I think too it’s worth checking out Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, and Russell’s Reserve 10 Year.

Links & Other Reviews

 

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Review #46

Kentucky Spirit Background

Wild Turkey Kentucky SpiritWild Turkey Kentucky Spirit takes claim of the second modern single barrel Bourbon. Blanton’s is the first, although there were most likely earlier bottles from a single barrel. But for practical purposed within the realm of modern Bourbon as we know it, they’re #1 and #2.

Kentucky Spirit has the same bottling proof of Wild Turkey 101. The different would seem to be barrel selection and age. Wild Turkey 101 is a bottling of barrels blended together with ages of 6, 7 and 8 years old. Kentucky Spirit is a little older at 8-9.5 years old. And that barrel selection should be good as Master Distiller Jimmy Russell picks them out himself.

Wild Turkey line is unique with its robust flavors. Likely attributed to the lower entry proof going into the barrel. The lower proof means it’s less refined coming off the still, which means it carries more flavors from the mash and fermentation. Also lending to flavors is a heavy #4 alligator barrel char.

Details

8-9.5 Years Old. Bottled at 101-proof. Bottled on 6/14/13 from barrel #48 in Warehouse C on rick #66. Mash recipe of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. Paid $48

Aroma

Caramel and cinnamon. Some cocoa. A little spearmint. Brown sugar. Oak.

Flavor

Sweetness, nice caramel cinnamon, and vanilla profile. Corn. Brown sugar. Burnt sugars. Graininess. Assertive charred oak  and a touch of astringency. Spicy and bold.

Overall

Distinctly wild turkey. This is a flavor bomb with assertive barrel flavors and lots of sweet caramel and vanilla. The burnt sugars I’m getting are a little harsh, I think. All these flavors hold up just fine to water and I think I like a dash in this one to dial down that heavy char. This is pretty flavorful.

Comparing this to Wild Turkey 101, I think Kentucky Spirit has more a pronounced caramel and vanilla profile. Also I’m getting more brown sugar. 101 seems a little more fruity to me and there might be a hint of acetone that’s absent in Kentucky Spirit in side-by-side. If I had to summarize the two, I’d say Kentucky Spirit is a bit more refined although packs more flavor on some levels. I’m going to give this the same rating as Wild Turkey 101. I like Kentucky Spirit better, but pricing difference is elevating Wild Turkey 101. If you like 101, Kentucky Spirit should make for a nice pour for a special occasion.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0 out of 5.0

(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

This is a standard rye Bourbon and you’ve got a number of other good options in this category and price tag. If you want to compare this to a few other bottles, I’d suggest checking out John J Bowman, Angel’s Envy, and Baker’s. Of course you can also check out the much cheaper Wild Turkey 101, which would probably be a good place to start.

Links & Other Reviews

Wild Turkey 81 Rye – Review #42

Wild Turkey 81 Rye Background

Wild Turkey 81 RyeWild Turkey 81 Rye is a recent addition to the Wild Turkey lineup. It was a response to the sudden spike in demand for rye whiskey, which previously basically a boutique product compared to the Bourbon business. When Wild Turkey’s supply of aged rye whiskey began to outstripped demand, they introduced Wild Turkey 81 Rye as what seems a stop-gap. It’s a younger version than Wild Turkey 101 Rye and obviously is a lower proof so they could get more bottles out of a barrel. Wild Turkey says the age of Wild Turkey 81 Rye is 4-5 years old.

Wild Turkey 101 left shelves for about two years as Wild Turkey’s ramped up production came to age. Wild Turkey 101 Rye began rolling out to select states in late 2013/early 2014. Bottles still appear to be limited and there’s no sign that Wild Turkey 81 Rye is going away any time soon.

Details

4-5 years old. Bottled at 81%. Rumored to be around 65% rye. Paid $21

Aroma

Minty, menthol. A little evergreen. Nice subtle, but distinct rye character coming through. Caramel. Charred oak. Touch of vanilla.

Flavor

Light and thin. A little cardboard. Pine flavors. Caramel, a little sweetness. Just a little spice builds in the finish.

Overall

For the price and the proof, this is pretty good stuff. It’s incomparable to Wild Turkey 101 Rye that’s not too much more expensive. If 101 is available, that would seem a no-brainer to me. But anyway, if you focus on what Wild Turkey 81 Rye is, there’s not much to dislike. Certainly it’s on the light side and lacks oomph, but it does have nice flavor and is very drinkable. This would make a nice afternoon session whiskey and there’s no complaining about the price.

Recommendation

Try a Glass – 2.0/5.0 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

If you can find Wild Turkey 101 Rye, that’s an easy choice in my book. The downside is you have to buy a whole liter at this present time, but it’s hands down the better choice for obvious reasons. From there, other similarly prices light ryes are Sazerac Rye 6 Year, Old Overholt, and Rittenhouse. There are some variations in there, but if I had to stack them up, I’d prefer the sweet Sazerac 6 over this, but Rittenhouse after Wild Turkey 81 Rye. Rittenhouse was dry and a little rough for my tastes. I wouldn’t recommend Old Overholt. Depending on my mood I could see swapping order on Sazerac 6 and Wild Turkey 81 Rye.

Links & Other Reviews

Wild Turkey 101 Rye – Review #34

Wild Turkey 101 Rye Background

Wild Turkey 101 Rye Bottle 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.

Details

No age statement. Bottled at 101-proof. Rumored 65% rye. Paid $35

Aroma

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.

Flavor

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.

Overall

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.

Recommendation

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.

Links & Other Reviews