The Wild Turkey Rare Breed review
Company: Wild Turkey
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley
Price: c. £50
It’s been 2½ years since our Wild Turkey Rare Breed review hit the World Wide Web. So what updates do we have for you with regards to this bourbon? Well the Mystic Megs (Google it as this this just may be a British cultural reference too far for our US friends) of the Bourbon World were right in our prediction of the next Rare Breed whiskey. It was indeed released at a higher ABV of 58.4%. Prediction would actually be quite a claim as it was all over the internet at the time. This strength also makes it the highest ever ABV in the entire Rare Breed collection and has continued to be so for the last 3 years.
It remains no secret that this barrel proof bourbon is a blend of 6, 8 and 12 year old whiskey. Many reviewers note that today’s Rare Breed taste profile leans it more towards that of 6-8 year old whiskeys and that the contributions from the 12 year old barrels are very limited. For the moment we are unable to make comment as neither of us has yet purchased the latest release. Price wise, it has definitely held its own in the marketplace and now can be found in the UK for as low as £45.00, which is an absolute Brucie Bonus (Sorry you will need to Google that one too).
Regular readers will know there is not a lot about the Wild Turkey brand that we don’t like, and they continue to increase their portfolio and excite us with their new releases. Both ends of the spectrum are covered with the easily affordable and accessible Wild Turkey Longbranch (which made it onto our 2018 Wish List) all the way up to the latest Master’s Keep series release of Wild Turkey Cornerstone Rye, which is perhaps just about within our special occasion budget but is almost certainly geographically unobtainable.
So from this very short update we now have a new list of Bourbon Gents Must Do’s
1. Drink more Rare Breed
2. Buy Rare Breed 58.4
3. Buy Longbranch and stop being a plonker like Rodney (last Google of the day)
4. Remember to stop using British cultural references
5. Sell up, pack our bags, tell the kids we’re going to Disneyland and move to Kentucky
For us the Wild Turkey brand is as American as apple pie and baseball. The Ripy brothers opened their family distillery in 1869 at Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. There are now 9 different offerings of Wild Turkey (not including the Russel’s Reserve range), the latest being the Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades which is a blend of whiskies between 10 and 20 years of age.
Rare Breed is a single barrel offering and has been around since 1991 (significantly longer than most other single barrels) and originally each release was identified by batch numbers but nowadays the batch numbers have been dropped and each new release is denoted by its unique ABV percentage. The latest release (2015) is at 56.4% ABV and is regularly reported to be a blend of 6, 8 and 12 year old bourbons. As this is not actually confirmed anywhere, you are also unlikely ever to find out what percentage of each aged bourbon contributes to the finished product. There are rumours that the next Rare Breed release will be an even higher ABV rating of 58.4%.
Wild Turkey’s master distiller, Jimmy Russell, apparently prefers to drink this straight after it's been chilled in the freezer. Let’s just say we will take his word for it on that one!
What we got – Initially a strong burst of alcohol with aromas of orange, cherry and marzipan. If a nose could be described as rich, this would be it (Mr Pie). Enormously sweet (almost liqueur'ish) with a quite weird cigar smoke/ash, leather and creaminess nose (Mav)
What they say we should get - Traditional bourbon notes of vanilla, nutmeg, caramel, and molasses on the nose, along with a hint of tobacco
What we got – Definite hint of spice...... followed by an enormous whoosh! The heat and strength of the alcohol hits you very hard. As this fades it gives way to a sweetness which in turn is followed by a smoky finish. The orange is completely lost from the nose
What they say we should get – Full of cinnamon, brown sugar, honey, toasted oak, and nutmeg
What we got – Long, very long, and changes as it fades
What they say we should get – Long with cinnamon and honey notes
The tasting notes for this bourbon are probably the longest and most complexed we’ve written so far. It is without doubt an extraordinary whiskey. It may also be the first bourbon reviewed to which we can attribute phases on the palate when tasting. Spice, pepper, alcohol, heat and sweetness are delivered in that order. Finally it ends with a smoky ash finish. However neither of us called out the experts references to cinnamon and nutmeg.
Mr Pie described drinking this bourbon as being almost overwhelmed by what’s in your mouth, and although is not normally known as a huge fan of the higher proof bourbons he scored this one quite highly. Mav openly prefers the caramel and sweet flavours of the 81 and certainly favours that over the Rare Breed for an everyday sipper (he's awaiting the hate mail as we speak).
One point we should bring up though is do you really need to spend over £50 to have this in your collection when you can buy the Wild Turkey 101 for £30? After all it is the exact same mash bill, similar aged whiskey (yes there is no 12 year old, but how much of the 12 year old do you actually get?) and is still a healthy 50.5%. We'll leave that question up to you to tell us!
The messages here are confusing for us, and no doubt to you the reader, as to where we see this bourbon fitting in our drinking preferences. The one thing the Gents both agree on though is that this is not a drink to start an evening with, but would sit nicely as a final night cap to be had at the end of a busy weekend.
7 out of 10 - Mav
8 out of 10 – Mr. Pie