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Wild Turkey 101

What's The Word?

0 985

@dbkReview by @dbk

3rd Sep 2012

0

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    85

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Wild Turkey is a curious brand. With their latest “give ‘em the bird” campaign, WT continues to position its whiskey with the “bad boy” crowd. No doubt, it’s immensely popular with the type of person who thinks that quietly suffering the burn in one’s throat after taking a shot is the truest measure of manhood.

In economic terms, there is nothing peculiar about reinforcing this logic to a certain—large—whiskey-buying audience. What is peculiar is how well liked WT is among the myriad American whiskey enthusiasts who are not part of this demographic. One might tend to guess that marketing a whiskey as a “tough guy’s” drink would be the strategy of choice for abominable whiskey, and that’s no doubt generally true. But WT is a serious exception.

Wild Turkey bourbon uses rye as the “small” grain in its mash bill, like most bourbons on the market. The rye content isn’t terribly high (around 13% of the mash), but it is nevertheless unmistakable in the resulting profile. In the summer of 2011, Wild Turkey moved from its old distillery across the road to a new facility, more than doubling its production capacity to 11 million gallons per year. At the same time, they upped the alcohol content of their flagship bourbon by 1º—that is, Wild Turkey 81 and 101 proof. This was more than just mere marketing, however: the new release was also an improvement in quality (especially the 81 over the 80).

The nose on the Wild Turkey 101 is prickly from the outset, but also immediately expressive. There are dominant notes of baking spices (especially cinnamon and nutmeg), walnuts and peanuts, vanilla, and yeasty rye bread. Other notes of honeycomb, sarsaparilla syrup, sweetened cocoa powder, and brown sugar appear occasionally.

Like the nose, the palate is a little hot, a little sharp, and quite engaging. There is an initial hot streak of cinnamon that contrasts nicely with honey, butter, walnuts, citrus fruit (oranges and grapefruit), and sarsaparilla. The finish is healthy and the sweet and dry elements are beautifully balanced throughout, though the opening heat is not fully in check.

Those among you who have ignored Wild Turkey because of its marketing have had, in general, a good reason to do so. (Notably, the current flagship WT releases are not, as of writing, listed on Connosr.) The reason, however, is simply not good enough in this case. Consider the bird.

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9 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@dbk, so good to have you back reviewing on Connosr!

Wild Turkey 101 bourbon is truly a bit of a cave man's drink, but that is not all bad, at all. Yes, given a choice I would almost always go with Wild Turkey Rare Breed, but 101 is a huge step up from the too-dilute-and-young old 80 proof. Good as some claim it is, I will take my time in getting around to sampling the new 81 proof bourbon. I am very curious about whether product coming from the new distillery facilities will taste the same as the 'old dog chow'.

I have heard about the "the bird" ads but haven't seen them. Just as well. I don't pay much attention to any marketing, except that I like "The Most Interesting Man in the World" commercials. Mouth and nose is all I care about. Mythos and Tradition are to me generally just so much BS.

Thanks for a nice @dbk-esque review!

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Oh yes, almost forgot... "What's The Word"?!?...."Bird"! Yes, bebebe..bird, bird, bird, bird is the word...

7 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

Cheers, @Victor! I had wanted to write a couple of reviews for awhile now, but time just kept slipping away from me. Today, I took a look at my preposterous cabinet—with several bottles dwindling on the shelves, "waiting" patiently for my attention—and I thought to myself, "Sod it! I'm going to review some damned whiskey!" (OK, so, not being British, I didn't actually say "Sod it!" to myself, but it's a damned charming phrase and I reserve the right to use it here. Call it "drunkard's license" if you will.)

I agree that WT Rare Breed is a good step up from the flagship expressions. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the younger ones performed. I would happily drink (and buy) the 101 again. Plus, it holds its own in a cocktail awfully well!

7 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

PS Glad you got the joke. ;)

7 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

I am not getting this joke because I just don't know the marketing stuff about this WT. Maybe I will search it later. Or maybe it's just good the way it is, because most times when I am biased by marketing it's in the negative way and not vice versa.

And once again a great review, for the case this tagging system will work some day, I am using this again like @Victor: dbk-esque! Glad the scientist is back :)

I just found your review by chance because I was searching for an entry-rye once again. With 13% I guess it's not what distinguishes a rye from a bourbon. Maybe I will buy it nonetheless.

7 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

Well I spoiled it... @dbk-esque ;)

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Wills, old OLD song. Google it.

7 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

Cheers, @Wills! Here's the original tune by The Trashmen: www.youtube.com/watch

I've always been partial to this "cover," however: www.youtube.com/watch

I don't think that WT 101 bourbon should be used as a rye stand-in, even with its prominent rye notes, but there is a WT 101 rye. It may be easier to find in some places than others—I don't know what the American whiskey scene is like in Germany, for instance. My favourite entry level rye at the moment is Sazerac, but Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond is also a well-loved choice. That said, the latter is more bourbon-like than the former.

7 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

Haha great song!

7 years ago 0

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