This is the Wild Turkey limited edition bourbon we’ve been waiting for. Only 2,070 bottles exist. Deep amber hues and non-chill filtered, it opens up to straight-from-the-woods campfire smoke, caramel, vanilla, fresh-baked macaroon, leather, woodworking shop, and cigar box. But it’s not a smoke bomb or saturated in sweet; its delicate baking spices meet hatch chile, cinnamon, hints of mint and citrus. It finishes strong and long with a lingering caramel chew.
Lovely aromas of warm banana bread with toasted nuts are met with oak and underlying savory notes of garden soil, mushroom, barnyard, and menthol that build layers of complexity. The flavor similarly melds sweet and earthy notes, as Bit-O-Honey and grape candy yield to zesty lemon, drying tobacco leaf, and polished oak tannins. The sweetness, perfectly permeated with earthy complexity, is totally captivating, made complete by a long and satisfying finish laced with spices.
A clean, well-rounded bourbon packed with flavor. Deep amber, with tinges of gold. Rich, silky aromas, with thickly textured, seamless flavors on the palate. Incredibly smooth, too, with interwoven notes of toffee, molasses, creamy vanilla, and candy corn. Underlying lush fruit, cinnamon, and fresh mint -- especially on the finish -- round everything out. Some of the previous “extra matured” Wild Turkey whiskeys have occasionally shown their age on the finish, being a little heavy on the oak. Not this one. Nicely done.
A special bottling of Wild Turkey to celebrate Master Distiller Jimmy Russell’s 50 years of being in the bourbon business. Jimmy will be proud to be associated with this bottling. In many ways, this bourbon is a lot like Jimmy: mature, yet with plenty of spunk and character, and a pure joy to be with. This is a big, chewy, full-bodied bourbon with lovely sweet notes (maple syrup, molasses, caramel and candied fruit) balanced by dry spice notes (cigars aged in cedar, evergreen, polished leather). For bourbon drinkers who love intensity in their bourbon.
Wild Turkey 17 year old Master’s Keep Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $175
Oak always leads the character of well-aged bourbon, sometimes dominating it, but here the balance is just right. The nose gives an impression of sweet syrupy fruit, like candied orange peel and cherries jubilee; there’s also creamy flan, dusty spice, cocoa powder, and leather bookbindings. Richly oaked and dense with flavor, the palate has dark chocolate, roasted walnuts, cola, black currant jam, and peppermint. It finishes generously with mint-flavored dark chocolate, blackberry jam, and coffee bean. Skip the water. (14,400 bottles)
Wild Turkey often exhibits a delightful earthiness, and when earth meets sweet in whiskey, it’s a beautiful thing. Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades achieves a rich texture where deep-tilled soil, fresh-cut grass, and mushrooms meet leather and dark chocolate, followed by dill, oregano, and oak. Caramel and vanilla explode over a heavy dose of cinnamon. Master distiller Eddie Russell mingled barrels ranging from 10 to 20 years old in order to strike this balance and complexity. His method displays the potential of combining extremely old stocks into batches with younger barrels to build a great whiskey. Number 3 in the 2017 Top 20
Complex from the start, with a nose of roasted nuts and dark fruit—blueberry pie, grape jelly—along with bundled herbs, fresh-brewed iced tea, and weathered barn boards. Mint, cinnamon, pepper, concord grape jelly, peanuts, and black tea swirl on the palate, which is full and robust thanks to the absence of chill-filtration. Without water it finishes hot, but the oak, roasted nut, and tiramisu flavors help retain balance. Editors' Choice
A delightfully complex nose of vanilla, hot cross buns and bakery shop, cherries, coconut, raisins, figs, licorice, old leather, and hay barn. A smooth, viscous palate offers lemon honey, fragrant oak, cigar ash, dark berries, and more coconut. Spicier notes emerge with water, while the finish offers rich smoothness, with spiciness, chocolate-covered coconut, tobacco, and bitter herbs. Lots of depth and complexity. A great whiskey to enjoy with a cigar.
When earth meets sweet in whiskey, it’s a beautiful thing. Here, soil tilled deep, fresh-cut grass, and mushrooms meet leather and dark chocolate, followed by dill, oregano, and oak. Caramel and vanilla explode over a heavy dose of cinnamon. There’s more: apple fritters, spice, and saltwater taffy tingle the palate until the long finish introduces, for the first time, a hint of doughy pie crust. A must-have.
From rickhouse G, floor 5, barrel 136 is a study in caramel. Layered in crème brûlée, salted-caramel cupcake, caramel brownie, caramel apple fritters, caramel popcorn, and the classic caramel chew. Then, complexity: chocolate truffles, nutmeg-dusted hot bananas, ginger ice cream, cinnamon-candied almonds, and warm povitica. It’s so creamy, so rich, and so unrelenting with masterful flavor that the powerfully long and caramel-forward finish is expected. Splendid, must-have sipper. (Lincoln Road Package Store exclusive)
Driven by lovely maple syrup and sweet bread pudding, this is like waltzing into a bake shop serving up warm sticky buns—all bready sweet, spice, and dried raisins—laced with toasted oak. The body is delightfully rich and viscous, with a generous jolt of sweetness and spice that pours long and satisfying. The sweet maple, candied nuts, dried berries, and white pepper spice strike a wonderful balance.
A single barrel bottling from Warehouse N, rick number 1, bottled at the proof that Wild Turkey was designed to be. A deeply-woody spiced nose featuring cinnamon and caramel advertises a power punch whiskey, but on the palate there's no punch. Instead, it’s lush, round, and affable, with deep caramel and cinnamon co-mingling with peanut. The lush, sweet start is well-balanced by cinnamon spice, which ramps up and drives a long spicy finish. This is delicious whiskey. (Julio’s Liquors only)
A very pricy (for Wild Turkey) 17 year old whiskey honoring master distiller Jimmy Russell. Nose is hot for the proof, with oak, dried barrel drool, warm dried corn, tobacco barn, and teaberry. Entry is not hot; rather, a thread of sweet syrup spreads out into thoroughly integrated corn and oak. Finish slides into drier oak. A fascinating journey through bourbon flavors, this is both lighter and more complex than expected. I still prefer younger Wild Turkey, but…
Cotton candy, marshmallows roasting over an open campfire, baked apples, and cornbread batter start a whiskey that then offers hints of caramel apples, pumpkin pie, and roasted pecans. Water opens it up to more nuanced fruit, spice, and sweetness. Without water, brown-sugar butter dominates about mid-palate and leads to a long finish. Dilution makes this a completely different whiskey experience.
An 8 year old from Wild Turkey’s Warehouse G, it’s classic Turkey on the nose, with a little spice, caramel, nutmeg, oak, and slight hints of lavender. Then sautéed barley, pecan shell, brown sugar, chewing tobacco, and bittersweet chocolate. An earthy oak note blossoms, with a layered caramel chew following this whiskey home to a medium finish. (Maisano’s Fine Wine and Spirits exclusive)
A marriage of 13 to 16 year old bourbons honoring master distiller Jimmy Russell’s 60 years at Wild Turkey. It is a more conservative Turkey compared to many of the previous limited-edition releases. But still, this is pleasant, with caramel and creamy vanilla intertwined with soft candied orange, cinnamon, polished oak, and a hint of evergreen. Nicely balanced, very approachable, but I would have preferred this at their signature 101 proof for added intensity.
Sweet, spicy nose, with sharp mint jellies and brittle sugar laid over the oak presence. Shifts in the mouth to no-nonsense rye: bitter, savory, dried grass, with the sweetness as a spark glinting through it all, while a mineral character plays as backbone. The finish is prickly and warming, with fleeting richness. A very lean rye overall, a bit challenging, a bit old school.
Wild Turkey Wild Turkey 'Tradition' 14 year old, 50.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $100
Richly textured -- almost chewy -- with toffee, molasses, nougat, date, candy corn, ripe clementine, and raisin, peppered with dusty grain, cocoa powder, moss, Play-Doh, subtle mint, and herbs. Not as crisp or clean on the palate as the Wild Turkey American Spirit 15 year old, released a couple years ago (which I rated a 94), but it is still very good and rather therapeutic in nature. It makes for a nice digestif. This is a different style of Wild Turkey. There’s a good deal of wood influence. I suspect that some will like this a lot, while others might not warm up to it as much. It took a few encounters for me to embrace it.
Amber chestnut color. Mature aromas of oak, vanilla, toffee, and leather. A heavyweight bourbon with a huge flavor profile-oak, leather, and molasses, turning quite dry with a spicy, nutty finish that is very long and warming.
Clean on the palate, with honey-kissed citrus, summer fruits, crisp mint, and cinnamon, balanced by creamy vanilla and soft toffee. A solid bourbon that’s nicely rounded and vibrant. It’s very much with the current trend of American whiskeys toward no age statement; youthful and playful in nature, and versatile.
Incredibly smooth for a rye whiskey (almost too smooth), but still with plenty of character to make the journey very entertaining. Notes of evergreen, almonds, and bright fruit lie on a bed of caramel, honeyed vanilla, and banana bread. Lingering spicy finish.
The nose tickles with caramel, spice, vanilla, and earthiness, with just a hint of balsamic vinegar. Warming. Coated with spices, ranging from cinnamon to allspice and from coffee to nutmeg. Eventually, patented caramel and vanilla, with a fun hint of cardamom. The long, enjoyable finish is earthy, but there’s an unwanted bitterness at the end that cannot be denied. If not for the bitter end, this would rate much higher.
Part of Wild Turkey’s Whiskey Barons Collection, which re-creates brands lost during Prohibition. A blend of 4 and 6 year old charcoal-filtered bourbons, with a nose of cereal, vanilla, lemon cake, orange, and baking spice. The palate brings out vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, walnuts, peach pie, licorice, pipe tobacco, and a halo of chili pepper. The finish has kick and heat, with notes of honey, lemon, chocolate, and spicy oak.
Sweet bread pudding and cracked pepper are tinged with wintergreen and earthy oak, the alcohol strikes just a touch sharp. With water, banana, lemon, and vanilla cupcake sweetness appear. On the palate, lively citrus, white pepper, violet candies, and peanuts, before finishing with a tapestry of spices: ginger, allspice, and paprika. Characterful, well-proofed, and tasty stuff.
An accidental “mingling” of rye whiskey with bourbon, resulting in a product that acts like bourbon with an unusually high percentage of rye in the mashbill. It shows, with vibrant notes of warming cinnamon, fresh mint, nutmeg, licorice root, and a hint of tellicherry pepper. All this is soothed by vanilla, caramel, and subtle honeyed citrus. Lively, distinctive, and versatile.
Redolent of marshmallow and vanilla, this is restrained on the nose, but revels in pretty sweetness, with peaches and cream, ripe banana, and circus peanuts candies. On the palate, this collaboration with actor Matthew McConaughey betrays some of its Wild Turkey pedigree, capturing the house earthiness. For its modest proof, it pours a bit hot on the palate, with plenty of oak tannins, making it a nice sipper on the rocks or with water. Value pick
Cotton candy, campfire smoke, cinnamon, pilsner beer, butterscotch, and vanilla start a whiskey conversation that’s about balance, easy sipping, and the pursuit of spice. Around mid-palate, a plethora of baking spices—clove, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice—charms the senses. It’s set up to be a great run, but the approach softens toward the finish with muted brown sugar appearing. Still, the flavor and balance make for a fun sipper and great cocktail mixer.
This non-chill filtered rye is bold and ready for a spice-hungry palate. At first the aroma gently introduces herbs, pepper spice, cinnamon, and vanilla; preparing for a hopeful taste of the same. Instead, there’s a surprise: toasted rye bread at the beginning followed by cinnamon and caramel, with a medium-length finish.
Delicate and flavorful chocolate, caramel, and dried fruit begin a delightful sipper that really becomes easy drinking, with hints of cola, cherry, and maple syrup. Then it’s the spice, specifically cinnamon and allspice, over a slight bitterness, like grapefruit rind, that suggests complexity awaits. But no, the short finish hurts its next-level consideration. Price is per 375 ml
New packaging, new formulation, and even a new strength. The new packaging is more stylish, the new formulation is more approachable, as is the new strength (45% rather than 50.5%). The previous Russell’s Reserve was big and brooding, with huge flavors of chewy toffee, oak, leather, and tobacco. This new expression is more elegant, with lighter sugars (honey, cotton candy, caramel, maple syrup), more fruit (candied orange, pineapple, coconut), and creamy vanilla. A tame expression of Wild Turkey (although the flavors are nicely balanced and seamlessly tied together). Ideally, I would like to see the bourbon with the new formula but bottled at the old strength of 101 proof.
The follow-up to 81 proof Wild Turkey bourbon—and part of a continuing trend by distillers to release versatile whiskey: reasonably priced, no age statement, that will stand out in cocktails but can be enjoyed on its own in a pinch. Very spicy, yet relatively soft in character, with suggestions of gin botanicals, dried fruits, honeyed vanilla, and teasing charred oak. Very quaffable for a rye whiskey.
Comprised of bourbon aged 6 to 8 years old (and seems closer to 6 than 8). This new, fairly bold for 81 proof whiskey, while drinkable neat or with a splash of water, really works best as a mixer. Very traditional bourbon notes of caramel, vanilla, mint, cinnamon, sweet corn, and orchard fruit.
An odd roaring noseful of spices: vanilla, pepper, ginger, teaberry. Tastes perfumey first, then resolves to sweet vanilla, hot oak, and more teaberry. Can’t decide if it wants to be bourbon—it’s hot, and flexing oak—or candy, and does a poor job at both; it’s like a linebacker in a French maid’s outfit, just wrong. There are much better sweet, spicy whiskey mixes out there; the original Spicebox comes to mind.