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The Wild Turkey 81 review

The Wild Turkey 81 review

Company: Wild Turkey
Vol: 40.5%
Age: No Age Statement (reported to be around 6-8 years of age)
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley
Price: c. £20-25


The Ripy brothers opened a distillery in 1869 on Wild Turkey Hill, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Legend also has it that in 1940 the bourbon that was being made there was called Wild Turkey after a distillery executive shared his bourbon on a turkey hunting trip.

Wild Turkey’s 81 proof expression was introduced in 2011 to mark Eddie Russell’s 30th year working at the distillery.  It was intended to be the perfect bourbon for mixing. In 2016 the brands were repackaged, so there is actually no such thing as Wild Turkey 81 anymore, it is now known as just Wild Turkey Bourbon.  The idea behind this is to make it clear to consumers that Wild Turkey Bourbon is Eddie Russell’s creation (his signature is on the front of the bottle) and that his father Jimmy Russell's creation is Wild Turkey 101 (you’ve guessed it, his signature is on that bottle too).  Incidentally both the Wild Turkey Rye’s were repackaged at the same time.

Master Distiller Jimmy Russell has now been at Wild Turkey for a staggering 62 years. In 2015 his son Eddie Russell was officially appointed Master Distiller too.  This makes them the world’s only active father and son Master Distiller’s. This is certainly something to raise a glass to.  Cheers!

The Review

For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass


What we got - Caramel and fudge (finger of fudge for the UK readers), the spice of rye. Grassiness, open fields (Mr. Pie)

What they say we should get - A spiced, oaky nose with vanilla fudge, rye spices and coffee beans


What we got - Spicy (sorry that word again), melt in the mouth, caresses those taste buds. A smooth almost oily richness  

What they say we should get - Rich and thick, notes of caramel, Manuka honey and fudge, hints of rhubarb and custard sweets and oily espresso beans


What we got - Short but goes down bloody well, with a lot of caramel sweetness on the finish

What they say we should get - Caramel and coffee, hints of Black Forest honey and Hot Cross Buns. Charred and spicy


We were actually totally on the money comparing our amateur tasting notes with the ‘experts’.  Fudge, rye spices, oily all spot on. Maybe we're getting quite good at this tasting malarkey.  However, we didn’t get the coffee, honey and rhubarb & custard sweets but give us time.

This was one of Mav's first bourbons when he was starting out in the bourbon world so we can heartily recommend this for a beginner. It's also probably one of the best bourbons in its price range.  For around twenty English pounds this brings a lot to the table.


8 out of 10 - Mav

8 out of 10 – Mr. Pie

Episode 2 - Once Upon a Time in America

Episode 2 - Once Upon a Time in America

Our reviews explained

Our reviews explained