The Wild Turkey 101 review
Company: Wild Turkey
Age: No definitive age statement but the bottle does refer to it being between 6-8 years
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley
Price: c. £32
The history of the Wild Turkey distillery goes back as far as 1869, but the Wild Turkey brand was first conceived in 1940 by the Austin Nichol’s president Thomas McCarthy. The tale goes that he chose bourbon from the distillery to take with him on a turkey shoot. His preferred choice of bourbon at the time just so happened to be 101 proof, perhaps this is how the current 101 bourbon was born? Master Distiller Jimmy Russell maintains that 101 proof is the perfect strength for the bottling of Wild Turkey and it creates a complex flavour of caramel, vanilla, toffee and spice. This theory of Jim's is backed up by the fact that Wild Turkey 101 is America’s biggest selling premium bourbon.
Wild Turkey is a high profile brand in the US, but some have said that it is known more for it's low prices than the quality of the bourbon. The packaging of the product and the image was given a much needed boost in 2016 when the whole brand was overhauled. The idea behind this was to make it clear to consumers that Wild Turkey Bourbon (81) was Eddie Russell’s creation and that his father Jimmy Russell's creation was Wild Turkey 101 (both now show their signatures of approval). Also in 2016 Matthew McConaughey was made the public face of Wild Turkey in an attempt for the brand to be more attractive to women and the international market. If there are any female Bourbon Gents followers out there then feel free to let us know if you think this was a good choice!
The Review: Wild Turkey 101
For this review we drank it neat in a Glencairn glass
What we got – Fruit bomb, predominately apples. Sweet sugared plums with hints of caramel & toffee goodness
What they say we should get - Big & peppery, spicy, lots of rye and caraway seed, but still fresh, with some toffee sweetness in there too
What we got - A delightfully warming burn, full of spice, burnt sugar, toffee and plenty of wood.
What they say we should get - Beautiful concentration, with waves of spicy cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, toasted hazelnuts and a faint, fresh, minty note
What we got – Dry and full of spice, a medium length finish
What they say we should get - The wide-ranging spiciness lasts for a very long time
Wild Turkey products do truly have a distinctive taste profile. Maybe this is because they barrel their whiskey at a lower entry proof compared to most other producers. Maybe it is because the whiskey is extracted from the barrel at 109 proof before the addition of very little water. Maybe it is the maturation in their heaviest char #4 barrels of up to 8 years. What is remarkable is the richness of spice they can obtain from a relatively low mash bill of only 13% rye. Other similarly loved “high in spice” (well by Mr Pie anyway) bourbons such as Old Grand-Dad and Bulleit have their rye percentages in the high 20’s.
When Jim Murray reviewed this in 2016 he said it was by far the best 101 he had tasted in a decade. “You simply can’t do anything but go weak at the knees with that spice attack”
Without trying to sound too contrite, this a bourbon for bourbon lovers. Certainly not an introductory level bourbon, it’s at least one level up from that. This simply has to be in your collection and is outstanding value for money.
8 out of 10 - Mav
8 out of 10 – Mr. Pie