The availability of bourbon whiskey continues to be elusive in my part of the world. Therefore, every chance I come across of getting my hands on an iconic brand of bourbon I try and get myself a bottle. Recently while returning from one of my travels abroad I spotted a shelf in a duty free store occupied by bottles of Wild Turkey 101. I was aware of the iconic status of Wild Turkey 101 among bourbon drinkers as a daily sipper and hence without giving it too much of a thought I paid for it and got it packed.
In the year 1869 the Ripy brothers built a distillery near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky on the site of another old distillery where they began to produce bourbom. Then with the advent of Prohibition came a few hiccups for the Ripy family. After Prohibition the Ripys started selling the bourbon produced at their distillery to wholesalers who bottled them under their own brands Austin Nichols being one of the many at that time.
Austin Nichols began to bottle Wild Turkey in 1942. For almost 30 years after introducing the brand Wild Turkey, Austin Nichols continued to only bottle bourbon purchased on the open market under their flagship Wild Turkey brandname. The majority of this whiskey was purchased from the Ripys’ distillery near Lawrenceburg. In the early 1970’s, Austin Nichols acquired the distillery and re-christened it to the Wild Turkey Distillery.
The brand name “Wild Turkey” is believed to have been born after an Austin Nichols executive named Thomas McCarthy, took some bourbon samples on a hunting trip. It’s needless to mention of course, that they were out to hunt wild turkey. The bourbon became so popular with his companions that they continued to ask him for “that wild turkey bourbon.”
Today Wild Turkey has achieved an iconic status among bourbon drinkers from around the world and has a wide array of expressions. Apart from the Wild Turkey 101 they offer Wild Turkey 81, Wild Turkey 81 Rye, Wild Turkey 101 Rye, Wild Turkey Rare Breed which is a barrel proof blend of 6, 8 and 12-year-old whiskies, Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit which is a single barrel 101 proof bourbon, Wild Turkey Longbranch, a 86 proof bourbon aged in oak refined with Texas mesquite charcoal, Wild Turkey Master’s Keep 17 Year and Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades.
At 50.5% ABV the Wild Turkey 101 packs quite a punch and brings that expected heat with it. I have tried it neat and on the rocks and I’ll have to admit to be more inclined towards the latter in terms of preference. Having said that, if I have a rich meal then I’ll reach for the bottle and more myself a neat one. Here’s my take on it.
Colour: A deep and rich auburn.
Body: Medium to full bodied.
Nose: Spicy, pepper-y with a bit of anise followed by toffee.
Palate: Vanilla, baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, sweet nutty caramel toffee.
Finish: The sweet spiciness and heat lingers on for quite some time.
Pairing: In my opinion it would pair rather well with some good quality 80% dark chocolate or a rich dark chocolate dessert.