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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

 

Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel – Review

Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Background

Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel
Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel

Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel comes from an unknown distillery and bottled up by Michter’s. No idea where this Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel comes from, but some speculate Brown-Forman and I can see similarities. Brown-Forman has a distinct flavor profile to me, and Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel seem ballpark. Other rumors suggest Heaven Hill, and that might correct too, but maybe for different Michter’s offerings. Or not. I honestly don’t care about solving these mysteries.

The catch with non-distiller producers is you typically don’t know where the whiskey you’re drinking was made. Which isn’t that big of a deal, but it can make you wonder if the next bottle will be the same. I’ve tried a 2-3 different batches of Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel from 2014 and they were all pretty good. You’re just basically trusting the people behind the label to either keep a steady supply or pick out something similar.

Details 

10 Years Old. Bottled at 47.2%. Barrel 14H505. No guess on mash bill. MSRP – $120 (2016 Price)

Aroma

Phenolic, cloves, bananas. Vanilla wafers. Banana cream pie. Leathery-sandalwood. Charred oak. 
 

Flavor

Dark, rich vanilla dark caramel, and maple syrup. Raisins. Sweet. Oaky with alcohol warmth.

Overall

Not only is this some nice Bourbon, but Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel is unlike most other Bourbons on my shelf. The nose is big and rich with what seems an interesting fermentation profile and ample barrel character. There’s mild astringency to what otherwise seems to be nice a woody. Dark sugars and deep flavors give a sweet and rich personality.
So, yeah, this is pretty good stuff. Again, no telling what future batches will bring, but best I can tell 2014 was a winner. Pricing is a bit steep and available is slim, so this goes into the specialty bottle category. Assuming you can find a 2014 bottle and/or future batches are similar, this is a solid buy for the experience and a little variety on the Bourbon shelf.
With all that said, unique can cut both ways. I’m not sure if I’m just projecting, but I can see the Brown-Forman connection. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that if you like Old Forester 100, then you’ll likely enjoy Michter’s 10 Year.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4/5 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.)

Links & Other Reviews

Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon – Review

Four Roses Yellow Label Background

 
Four Roses Yellow Label
Four Roses Yellow Label

Four Roses Yellow Label is the entry of the three regular Four Roses Bourbons. Second is Four Roses Small Batch and third is the Four Roses Single Barrel. Four Roses Yellow Label is an 80-proof Bourbon that a blending of their 10 straight Bourbon recipes. Four Roses Yellow Label is also younger than the other bottles, said to be about 6.5 years or so.

The wide array of recipes makes Four Roses unique, but also unique is how they age their Bourbon. They use single floor warehouses rather than multi-story buildings. Generally temperatures vary widely from floor to floor of a warehouse so by keeping all the barrels on the same floor should reduce variability from barrel to barrel. But, Bourbon being Bourbon, there are still a lot of variations between barrels regardless, so Four Roses utilized its 10 recipes to hone in on a consistent product.
While Four Roses Yellow Label is a lower 80-proof, it still packs surprising amount of flavor with its high rye recipes and unique yeast characteristics. I think it’s distinctly Four Roses, but the blending of many of their recipes makes it harder than the Small Batch to put your finger on individual characteristics from their private barrel selection.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 80-proof. High rye mash. Paid $20. 

Aroma

Fruity, charred oak. Carmel. Distinctly Four Roses. Minty. A little perfume. Red berries. Smells bright, fresh. Mild vanilla.

Flavor

Sweetness up front. Vanilla General fruitiness, caramel. Nice mild rye presence. Thin and finish quickly fades to a lingering residual char/roasted flavors.

Overall

With the lower proof, mild flavor, but still assertive rye character, I think Four Roses Yellow Label makes for a good cocktail mixer. Good flavor, but won’t over power. I’ve also made Bourbon Balls that turned out pretty nice along with some other stuff in the kitchen. Just drinking straight, Four Roses Yellow Label isn’t the most exciting dram. Lighter proof and younger than other Four Roses bottles, but still some great Bourbon for the price.

Recommendation

Buy a 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

Four Roses Yellow Label is a high rye Bourbon and other similar Bourbon that fit this price range could be Old Grand Dad BiB, Redemption Bourbon, and Bulleit Bourbon.

Links and other Reviews

 

Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye (Caribbean Cask)

Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye Background

Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye
Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye

If you’re sourcing whiskey to bottle, it’s always interesting to give it a unique twist. This can be a blend of straight whiskeys like successfully done at High West or another idea is to finish the product in another barrel. Angel Envy’s Bourbon is finished in port barrels and not only makes it unique from other similar sourced whiskeys, but the residual port complements the Bourbon well.

With Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye, they took a similar approach. In this limited release bottling they’re sourcing 95% rye whiskey, presumably from Indiana’s MGP, just like many, many other ryes currently on the shelves. Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye, however, is then finished in Plantation XO Rum barrels from the Caribbean. But before they were rum barrels they were French cognac barrels, which offers even more backstory. Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye is aged up to 18 months in these rum casks on top of the rye aging.

The result is not only very unique, but really complements the rye well.


Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 100-proof. 95% rye finished in rum casks. Paid $79


Aroma

Dark brown sugar. Mint. Molasses. Vanilla. Caramel. Maple. Raw rye. Orange peel.


Flavor

Lots of brown sugar. Rummy. Some mint. Honey. Cinnamon. Minty fresh rye fills in.

Overall

Dessert in a glass. Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye is sweet, sweet pour. If you have a sweet tooth and enjoy rye, this bottle is probably for you. I can’t see myself in the mood for this regularly, but this is a real nice treat. To me, this screams brown sugar and molasses as if someone plopped in a big spoonful of dark brown sugar into the glass. And then the fresh, spicy, minty rye complements these darker flavors well.

Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye is on the pricy side and it’s definitely different in the world of ryes. It’s also a limited bottling, so finding it may be tricky. It may not be for everyone considering both the price and the flavors, so tracking down a glass first wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I really enjoyed Angel’s Envy Rum Finished Rye in short pours when the mood strikes me.  Basically I think the finish is executed really well here, but priced higher than I enjoy the bottle. I’m not sure if I’ll buy another bottle, assuming I find another, but I will enjoy and share the one I got.


Recommendation

Buy a Bottle – 3.0/5.0 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.)

Links & Other Reviews