Whisky Connosr
Menu
Shop Join

Wild Turkey Master's Keep Decades

Happy Turkey Weekend, Yanks!

7 1595

@talexanderReview by @talexander

24th Nov 2018

2

  • Nose
    24
  • Taste
    24
  • Finish
    24
  • Balance
    23
  • Overall
    95

Show rating data charts

Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

"BOLD!" This was the most oft-repeated word shouted out by Bubba, our colourful tour guide at Wild Turkey Distillery. This was an elderly Kentucky good ol' boy straight out of Central Casting (think a warm, friendlier version of Strother Martin from Cool Hand Luke..."What we got here is.....a BOLD bourbon!") The tour was tons of fun, Jimmy Russell sat in the lobby holding court (Pam and I got a picture with him) and I picked up this bottle (on sale!) in the gift shop.

Master's Keep is a occasional Wild Turkey release of a bourbon at a higher-end price point - the first release was a 17 year old, and I believe this is the second release, called "Decades", to celebrate Eddie Russell's 35 years as Master Distiller (the current release is the third, called "Revival") It is non-chill filtered and bottled at 52% ABV. This bottle has been open for about two weeks.

The colour is a deep, dark caramel. On the nose we get soft, nutty aromas with cinnamon, nutmeg, dark chocolate and bread pudding. Creminis. Walnut skins. Real vanilla pods. Herbal (Italian parsley and thyme). Earthy, like damp forest floor. A drop of water brings out cherry compote and more of those herbal notes. Not overpowering, which might be what you would expect, but instead quite elegant.

Sharp on the palate with apple cider, 70% dark chocolate, cloves and peppery oak. Mouth-drying. Rum-raisin. Bovril. Leathery. Wood smoke (but not from a campfire, if that makes any sense? Maybe more like if you branded the wood.) Hint of Angostura. Water thickens the mouthfeel and adds more umami, smoke and freshly ground black pepper. As Bubba would say, it's bold but we are still sipping a very classy, elegant bourbon.

The endless finish is surprisingly gentle with charred oak, dark caramel, cinnamon and toasted walnuts. This is a stunning bourbon, I believe the best Wild Turkey I've ever had. I love that it tries not to overpower you (like some BTACs can, for example), and yet is bold enough for Bubba to approve. Whisky Advocate scored this a 94 and ranked it their #3 whisky of 2017. An appropriate Happy Thanksgiving to our wonderful neighbours to the south!

Related Wild Turkey reviews

15 comments

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

Another great review by @talexander! I had the good fortune to drink from this very same bottle of Master's Keep when I attended @Nozinan's epic November 2018 session. BOLD may be an understatement. This is a BIG whisky on all fronts. We tried this back to back with Master's Keep 17 YO, also at barrel proof, tipping the scales at the fly weight class of 43.4%. Perhaps the contrast in style left a bigger than bold impression of "Decades".

Thank you @talexander for sharing this whisky with me twice.

17 days ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

I’m jealous! I’ve got quite a soft spot (or a hard-on?) for Wild Turkey! This one sounds fantastic!!!

16 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@talexander Wow! I usually don’t get excited by Bourbon review but that much complexity is appealing.

16 days ago 0

gfc commented

Sounds amazing! I have been wanting to buy a bottle of this since it was first released, but just can't bring myself to spend $130 (I have a self imposed $100 limit per bottle). Do you think it is worth a one time splurge?

15 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@gfc Rules are made precisely so that you can make exceptions once in a while...

15 days ago 2Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@Nozinan @gfc Unfortunately, a hobby like this sometimes requires spending a bit more than $100 on a bottle once in a while.....the cost of whisky seems to be getting higher and higher every year!

15 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

@gfc, @talexander was willing to make the expenditure because he had tasted it first.

A proven-to-be-superb to your taste whiskey is worth an extra expenditure. A rumoured-to-be-superb by others' taste? Maybe, and often not. Tasting the whiskey first is huge.

I recently passed up a $ 120 bottle of Old Fitzgerald 11 yo Bottled in Bond, because of the price. If I had had the opportunity to have tasted it, I might well have changed my mind.

15 days ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@Victor That's actually not true - I bought this bottle based on reviews, awards and it was on sale (and context - I was at the distillery, so I was excited to buy SOMETHING). I had never tasted it before I purchased it (at least, not that I remember). Many of my "splurge" purchases (especially old, rare and indie bottlings) are done blind, so to speak. If I want to try something, and I think I'll like it, but there is no other way for me to try it, I'll often buy the bottle if the opportunity arises. Otherwise, I'm stuck with LCBO offerings (as long as they are at the tasting bar), and am at the mercy of what my friends have and what is available at decent whisky bars (where I am paying much more per ounce than I would be paying if I just buy the bottle).

There is also a certain excitement when you pony up for a splurge bottle, gather your friends around and ceremoniously open it to share. That's what I did with this one; that same night, I opened a SMWS Bushmills (which are not easy to find) which I paid close to double what I paid for the Wild Turkey. I bought the Bushmills blind because I figured it was a safe bet: I really like the distillery, I like most SMWS products and I knew sharing something this scarce it would bring immense joy to myself and my friends.

15 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

My mistake. Your detailed reference to your tour as part of your review led me to think that you had tasted Decades as part of your tasting experience. I was aware of that other part of you that likes to anticipate the big new experience into the unknown, but the tour description led me to assume otherwise.

15 days ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@Victor Makes sense - the tasting was relatively standard, except we tried the new Longbranch (quite good but not amazing). Four Roses kept to the standard stuff too, which I can get in Ontario...The others were much more interesting.

15 days ago 1Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@Victor I should also add that if I'm buying a bottle for investment, whether or not I like the liquid is almost irrelevant (and those are usually the bottles I pay the most for). The factors that usually go into my purchase decision are scarcity, age (both the age of liquid and how long ago it was bottled), if my potential purchase price is lower than global market value and if the liquid is generally accepted as being very good (few whiskies that are generally accepted as poor go up in value, despite scarcity or collectibility, except maybe the risible Loch Dhu). If those factors are favourable, then I figure its value should rise over time. I have never tasted the vast majority of my investments (exceptions are Ardbeg 1977, Pappy 20, a Karuizawa, Four Roses 125th and a couple others).

15 days ago 3Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@talexander, I always look forward to getting together with you and sharing a few bottles. Your picks are interesting and never, ever, dull. We've tasted a lot of great whisky together, can't wait for the next session.

15 days ago 1Who liked this?

gfc commented

@Nozinan @talexander You guys are nudging me towards a purchase. Christmas is coming up after all. @Victor I have always told myself I would pay more if I tasted a whisky and thought it was worth it, though I haven't done so yet.

15 days ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@gfc I wasn't suggesting you get it, or that you don't. I tried it...it's good but I tried 20 good whiskies that night. I was just saying sometimes the rules we set for ourselves need to be disregarded. My 2018 resolution, for instance, will not be realized. I am close but I will be over. Maybe next year.

15 days ago 1Who liked this?

You must be signed-in to comment here

Sign in