Wild Turkey 101 Background
Wild Turkey 101 has its roots in a New York grocery store. Austin Nichols sold alcohol and sourced their Bourbon from various suppliers to sell under their brand. As legend goes, Austin Nichols president Thomas McCarthy enjoyed turkey hunting with his friends and he would bring along some of his store’s Bourbon. His friends referred to it has their wild turkey Bourbon and that’s where we get the name.
One of Austin Nichols biggest suppliers came from what would later be called the Boulevard Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. In the 1960’s Austin Nichols began to buy nearly all their Wild Turkey from Boulevard and in 1972 it bought the distillery. Likely the acquisition was to stabilize supply of Bourbon as the industry fell on hard times. Today the Campari Group owns the Wild Turkey brand and distillery.
Wild Turkey 101 is known to have a low entry barrel proof, meaning the proof of the distillate going into the barrel is relatively low. This should results in more flavors, but either way, it’s something that makes Wild Turkey 101 unique compared to most other Bourbons today.
Bottled from barrels 6-8 years old. Bottled at 50.5%. Mash recipe thought to be 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. $22 MSRP
Cinnamon. Caramel. Vanilla, Toasted oak with a little char. Light perfume at full strength
Sweet, caramel. Rye with a little mint. Vanilla. Cinnamon. Honey. Charred oak. Oak seems to build to the finish with some medium astringency. Burnt flavors. Some spice that coats the mouth after the finish. A little hot alcohol.
Lots of flavors here and some might be a little feisty. Wild Turkey 101 is made from a blending of barrels of various ages and likely different storage locations within Wild Turkey’s warehouses. Picking barrels that are 6, 7, and 8 years old offers an interesting profile. It’s a lively Bourbon with nice barrel character.
I think Wild Turkey 101 has a bit of a bad rep. My impression before I first gave it a try was not favorable. Sort of rocket fuel booze. No idea where that came from, but unfortunately that was my brand awareness. I still hear some negative thoughts on this one as too rough. There’s no shame in adding a little water if that’s the case because at 101-proof, there’s plenty of room for a little water.
Wild Turkey 101 is flavorful and quite enjoyable, but lets talk about price. This is a bottle is a value and widely available. This particular bottle actually sat unopened for a while just because it’s a go-to order when out. You’ll find it behind most decent bars as it’s a popular mixer. This is also good for home because it’s a great value. In fact maybe we should keep this our little secret.
Wild Turkey 101 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
I consider Wild Turkey 101 a standard Bourbon with a moderate rye content. This to me makes for an excellent entry-level for the category and the benchmark for measuring other similar Bourbons. If, however, you can’t find it or want to explore similar Bourbons at this price, I’d suggest checking out Old Forester Signature and Elijah Craig 12. You could also try Wild Turkey 81, but I think I’d spend the extra few bucks. Get the Wild Turkey 101 and cut in your own water for your tastes.