Posts from the ‘Wild Turkey’ Category

Wild Turkey 101 Rye Review


Well, needless to say, I was pretty excited when Wild Turkey 101 Rye hit the shelves again after a few years gone from the wide world of rye, almost as excited as I was to see the U.S. soccer team pick up a 2-1 victory over Ghana.  This has long been regarded as one of the finest value ryes that you could no longer find in liquor stores.  Now, Wild Turkey has rereleased this whiskey, and I am pretty excited to get to review this new release.  There is no age statement on this, but I suspect that we are dealing with about a 6 year-old rye here; we do know that this is 101 proof (50.5% abv).


The nose on Wild Turkey 101 rye is quite vegetal, but full of spicy rye characteristics.  Nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme, licorice, and wood shavings all present themselves.  The palate is earthy and a bit vegetal, with some wood, soil, rye bread, and licorice.  The finish is long and sweeter than the palate, with honey and vanilla wrapping themselves nicely behind herbal, earthy spices.


Overall, this is a fine rye whiskey.  It presents a lot of classic rye characteristics with a lot of value.  I would also imagine that this would do wonderfully in a rye-based cocktail if that is your cup of tea/whiskey.  Either way, this one is definitely worth a try, although I cannot say how it stacks up to what this whiskey was five years ago.  My grade: B-.  Price: $25-30/750ml.  This is most certainly a fine value for a rye whiskey, evident of a great trend for Wild Turkey.

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Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon Review

Campari America

Campari America

Today, I am reviewing a barrel strength monster from Wild Turkey, the Rare Breed.  It is a small-batch bourbon, made from a combination of 6, 8, and 12-year old stocks.  It is then bottled at its barrel strength, which will vary slightly from batch to batch.  The bottle I am reviewing is from batch WT03RB (54.1% abv, 108.2 proof).  Unlike some of the giants from Buffalo Trace (George T. Stagg, E.H. Taylor), Wild Turkey Rare Breed’s strength out of the barrel is pretty mellow.  This is because Wild Turkey’s Jimmy Russell has always believed that the less water you add to whiskey, the better it tastes.  So, unlike many bourbons that enter the barrels close to the legal limit of 125 proof, Wild Turkey whiskey goes into the barrel around 95 or 100 proof.  So, when the whiskey comes out of the barrel, it doesn’t require much water to be added to get the whiskey to 101 or 81 proof (the two most common bottling proofs for Wild Turkey).  And, in the case of this batch of Rare Breed, the barrel strength is only 108.2 proof.

In the glass, Rare Breed is a rich, dark amber.  On the nose, it is dense and musty.  It smells like a much older bourbon than it actually is.  There are notes of fresh leather, tobacco, some rye, burnt pine needles, some cinnamon, and a bit of nutmeg.  The palate is where this bourbon shines best; it enters sweet with vanilla and maple syrup, moving to wet oak before it rumbles across the back of the tongue.  The finish is long and robust, moving from a menthol/tobacco note to a warming, sweet vanilla, back and forth.  Even at its full 108.2 proof, this whiskey is very drinkable.  Water does this one no good; it brings those leathery notes to the fore in full force.

Overall, this is a very good rye-forward bourbon.  I am a big fan of Wild Turkey’s lineup, especially because they are damn good whiskeys at damn good prices.  This one fits nicely into the lineup, and presents different notes than other whiskeys in Wild Turkey’s range.  Occasionally, I taste some tannin off flavors in this one, and it doesn’t quite have the waves of flavor of Russell’s Reserve 10 year or Wild Turkey 101, but it’s close.  My Grade: B-.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  This compares well to whiskeys at its price range as it is deep and complex, continuing the tradition of Wild Turkey value bourbons.

The Best Bourbons to Cure the Common Cold

If you ever had a cough, a stuffy nose, or any symptom of the common cold in my presence, you have probably heard me suggest bourbon as a remedy.  Of course, folks are always asking me what type of bourbon they should be drinking.  I’m here to answer that question.

First off, I want to explain how I believe bourbon should be used as a cure.  I do not suggest drinking bourbon when you are actually sick, especially if you have an upset stomach.  Bourbon will not help that at all, and it will usually hurt it.  In addition, drinking too much bourbon is always bad.  Don’t be your own irresponsible doctor.  However, if you feel yourself start to get a little stuffy, or if allergies are hitting you hard, then a small dram of bourbon can do just the trick.  It works by clearing your palate and your sinuses to allow you to go through the day with a clear head.  Just so we are clear, I am not a medical doctor; I just go with my gut and past experience.

For curing the symptoms of a cold, I would recommend a high-rye, high proof bourbon.  I would also recommend not wasting a great whiskey on a cold.  My choices for cold remedies definitely start with Fighting Cock 6-year.  At 103 proof, it has plenty of bite, and it really zings hard on the finish.  If this doesn’t clear out your sinuses, I’m not sure what will.  If you want the same bite, but you want a little more complexity and character, reach for Wild Turkey 101.  It is one of my favorite winter whiskeys for just this reason.  If you want something really cheap, try Old Grand-Dad Bonded.  It is a pretty drinkable whiskey (even at 100 proof), and I have found it for as low as $15 a bottle.

All that being said, find the whiskey that works best on your cold, and let it ride!

Wild Turkey 81 Review

Historically, Wild Turkey has offered their base whiskey at three different proof points: 80, 86.8, and 101.  The biggest seller has traditionally been the 101 proof, and for good reason.  It currently ranks as my #5 value bourbon.  It is a damn good whiskey for under $30.  However, I was not so fond of the old 80 proof.  It was too light, and failed to present much complexity.  In an effort to bridge the gap, Wild Turkey discontinued the 80 proof in favor of a new product, Wild Turkey 81.  Although there is not much difference in the proof of the whiskey, the new 81 proof is aged 6-8 years, which gives it a flavor profile that more closely resembles the 101 than the 80.

On the nose, Wild Turkey 81 resembles the familiar Wild Turkey recipe.  It is light and slightly floral.  There is a solid backbone of rye spice and vanilla that provides the doorway to the bourbon.  When you drink it, Wild Turkey 81 truly shines.  There is a prickly rye spice that holds throughout the bourbon, with balancing notes of vanilla, strawberries, and blackberries.  The finish is long and warm.  There is a lot of heat at first, with a burst of cinnamon and wood spice, but it mellows with time as the notes of vanilla and soft oak re-emerge.

Overall, I think Wild Turkey has made a very good product that is a fantastic step up from the old 80 proof.  This whiskey is still cheap enough to use it in a cocktail, but that would be wasting a good product.  This whiskey can definitely stand on its own, and it is worthy addition to the Wild Turkey family.  My grade: C+.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  This is a good sipper, and it also works well for mixed drinks, too.  Definitely a good one to keep around.

Russell’s Reserve 10 year Bourbon Review

So far on my blog, I have reviewed two products from the Austin Nichols Distillery, Wild Turkey 80 proof and Wild Turkey 101 proof.  These are available in many bars and almost every liquor store in the country.  They are also consumed by countless college students across America.  Today, I am delving into the upper echelons of the Austin Nichols Distillery, with one of its signature products, Russell’s Reserve 10 year, a small batch bourbon named for Jimmy (father) and Eddie (son) Russell, the master distillers at Austin Nichols.  Russell’s Reserve has often been described as the “gentle giant” of the Austin Nichols distillery, primarily because it is bottled at 90 proof, well below most of Wild Turkey’s other craft products (Rare Breed, American Spirit, and Kentucky Spirit).  As such, Russell’s Reserve is a great summer bourbon, especially because it is usually priced around $30 a bottle.

The journey into Russell’s Reserve begins with a flood of sweetness in the bouquet.  Smelling Russell’s Reserve is like smelling a black cherry vanilla milkshake.  However, there are some subtle citrus and oak notes that come through as well.  On the palate, Russell’s Reserve begins with a good sweetness, reminiscent of the vanilla in the nose.  There is some good caramel and roasted corn sweetness that back up the vanilla well.  As the whiskey moves towards the back of the mouth, it firms up with a strong presence of the oak and the rye.  The finish is perfectly balanced, with good notes of oak, wood spices, rye spices, caramel, burnt brown sugars, and vanilla.

Overall, Russell’s Reserve is a fantastic pour of bourbon whiskey.  It takes a journey like few other bourbons I have had.  It starts out light and sweet, moves to bold and rich, and finishes by perfectly balancing the two.  My grade: B+.  Price: $30-35/750ml.  This is a wonderful bourbon.  It is a great choice for a standard pour after dinner (or in the afternoon, early evening, or while you’re cooking dinner).

Comparison Review: Wild Turkey 101 vs. Fighting Cock 6 Year

I decided on these two bourbons for my first comparison review because they are very similar.  They are both under $30, over 100 proof, have a high percentage of rye in the mash bill, and they are both named after crazy poultry.  The biggest difference between the two is that almost everybody has heard of Wild Turkey, and almost nobody has heard of Fighting Cock.  However, both of them are very good value bourbons.

Wild Turkey 101 comes from the famous Austin Nichols Distillery, producers of the famous Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve bourbons.  There is no age statement on the bourbon, but my guess is that most of the bourbons that make it into the bottle are between 3 and 6 years old.  It has fancy advertising campaigns, and most college students have taken a shot of Turkey 101 at some point in their career.  However, what few college students realize is that they are drinking a damn good bourbon.

On the nose, Wild Turkey 101 is rich and complex.  There are strong notes of brown sugar and rye spices that balance each other well.  Some more fragile notes of dried summer fruits (peaches?), caramel, and pine sap come through as well.  Jason Pyle at Sour Mash Manifesto ( describes Wild Turkey’s mouth feel as “a porcupine running at 60 MPH,” but I think the palate is a bit softer than that.  There are certainly a lot of sharp spices from the rye, which give the bourbon a lot of peppery notes, but there is also good balance to the palate.  The brown sugars and caramels from the nose stick around through the whole experience, calming down the big rye kick on the palate and the finish.  Wild Turkey finishes with a sharp, spicy finish, with just enough caramel and barrel sugar to keep it smooth.  I only wish the finish would stay longer, it always seems too quick to me.  My grade: B+/B.  Price: $25-30.  This is a damn good sipper for a damn good price.

Fighting Cock 6 year is a 103 proof bourbon from Heaven Hill Distillery (Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, etc.).  It is not easy to find, especially in places that aren’t big bourbon hotspots, but it is worth a try if you find it.  At only about $20 for 750ml, it is a pretty good deal.  It is also available in a limited edition 15 year, which is very difficult to find.  If anyone finds that one, let me know (or just send me a bottle).

On the nose, the rye spices are very clear, with only some soft caramel and oak to balance out the bourbon.  On the palate, Fighting Cock is very full-bodied, with a distinct rye profile.  The bourbon is spicy and peppery on the palate, with some corny sweetness, nutmeg, and light caramel lingering around the front of the tongue.  The finish is monstrous.  Fighting Cock rumbles over the back of your tongue, kicking and screaming all the way.  The finish is dominated by the peppery flavors of the rye spices and drying oak, but there are slight sweet flavors (corn, caramel) that come back after a minute or two.  The finish is definitely longer than Wild Turkey, but Fighting Cock’s finish isn’t as complex, which can make it feel pretty harsh if you aren’t used to drinking high proof bourbons.  My grade: C-.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  This is a fine pour, but it is not complex enough to be the daily sipper.

Overall, Wild Turkey is the winner, hands down.  It is the more complex bourbon; it is rich, balanced, and very drinkable.  Fighting Cock is still very good value, but it isn’t as balanced as Wild Turkey 101, which can make it feel like a rough, one-tracked ride.  If Wild Turkey were at the same price point as Fighting Cock, then Wild Turkey might be my favorite value whiskey on the market, but its fame has made it a bit pricy.  In some places, you can still snag a bottle of 101 for $22.  If that is the case in your area, there is no reason not to have a bottle of Turkey 101 in the liquor cabinet when I come visit.

Wild Turkey 80 proof Review


Since the beginning of my blog, there have been two articles that people have been requesting: a Wild Turkey review and a system of ranking my favorite value bourbons.  Therefore, I will be reviewing Wild Turkey today, and I am working on a fair system of rating bourbons that should have the kinks ironed out in a day or two.

Wild Turkey is arguably (with Jim Beam) the most recognizable bourbon on the market.  Made by the famous Austin Nichols Distillery, the 80 proof edition is the baseline bourbon in the Wild Turkey family.  It is more expensive than Jim Beam’s White Label, but it is also a better whiskey in my opinion.  Wild Turkey is famous for their rye-forward mash bill, which tends to give their products spicier overtones when compared with other bourbon recipes that call for a lot of wheat.  (Remember, all bourbons are made from at least 51% corn, but what makes up the remaining 49% of the mash recipe has a lot to do with the finished bourbon product.)

The nose of Wild Turkey is a little flat.  It has some familiar bourbon notes of corn and vanilla behind a light coat of rye spice, but the notes are pretty flat.  Wild Turkey has a surprisingly robust mouth feel, with pronounced bursts of vanilla and a spice that balances between cinnamon and rye.  The whiskey finishes clean with some vanilla, caramel, spice, and maybe a hint of dried tea leaves.  Overall, this a good baseline whiskey that is a good value and a good indication of what to expect from the Austin Nichols Distillery.  My grade: C-.  Price: $20-25/750ml.  This is a nice mixer and a decent sipper, but I would rather go a little cheaper.