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Wild Turkey Rare Breed

Average score from 14 reviews and 48 ratings 85

Wild Turkey Rare Breed

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@Nozinan
Wild Turkey Rare Breed

I’ve avoided this whisky. Not sure why. Maybe because as a bird, I mentally put it in the same category as Famous Grouse, and decided it was mediocre. Maybe because compared to other whiskies it’s fairly inexpensive. After a few years of hearing about this whisky, and with a few positive comments on Connosr, I took the plunge. The price went up 1-2 days later. It was only after I bought it that I realized I had a sample from @paddockjudge, so I decided to try it to see if I should keep my bottle. It was good enough that I was keen to try the bottle, and I opened this 2 days ago. I decided to review it tonight and try it H2H with the sample bottle.

This expression, in Kentucky Bourbon Glasses, is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.


Nose: 22/25

Powerful nose. Brown sugar, big vanilla, caramel. Some cherry. After a while a touch of menthol. Not too layered but bold and pleasant.

When I uncovered the sample and sniffed it, I was reminded of going into my favourite BBQ pork take-out place. Not the pork, but the BBQ duck. There is a hint of the duck fat and sauce (sweet and fruity). Otherwise, the two noses are essentially identical.

With water there isn’t much change. Maybe it’s a little softer on the nose, but not so much with the sample glass.

Taste: 21.5/25

Powerful arrival. Dry, spicy. Lots of vanilla, some caramel. Not very complex, but tasty. The sample is a slight touch sweeter.

Water makes it a lot more peppery, bitter. The oak tannins come forward. (20.5/25)

Finish: 22/25

Dry. Hints of vanilla. Very astringent, oaky. With water, oaky with, with caramel, very drying. (21/25)

Balance: 22/25

Kind of a one trick pony, but the nose and palate complement each other very nicely

Score: Neat - 87.5/100 With Water: 85.5/100


Mixing the two together after adding water didn’t change the outcome much but maybe lessened the bitterness a little.


It’s interesting, tonight I found the whisky a little hotter than on the other times I’ve tried it. I might be having an off-night. Also, the other times I was interrupted a few times, so time in the glass was over an hour, and I think this one benefits from air. I suspect that @paddockjudge’s sample came from a bottle that had had some air time, and there’s a good chance it may be from the same batch.

I read a rumour somewhere that this one was going to go up in price (already went up almost 5 dollars from hen I bought it at the KGBO on October 11), or may be discontinued. I could be completely wrong. But over the next few days I’m going to to decide whether to pick up another bottle (my BIL can get a different batch in Calgary for $45 pls 5% tax), and I’m leaning toward yes.

Thanks @paddockjudge for giving me that sample so long ago so I could make the comparison part of my review.

Thanks for your review. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of this bourbon. It’s basically my reference point for bourbon. And even at the “inflated” KGBO price of $65, it still represents a terrific value.

@talexander

Once again, it's been a while since I've reviewed anything so I thought I'd kill this heel of a bottle that's been open for about a year. Wild Turkey Rare Breed is bottled at barrel proof (so the ABV may vary, depending on the bottle you buy) and contains 6 to 12 year old whiskies.

The colour is a dark caramel. On the nose we have cotton candy, black liquorice, cloves, cinnamon and dark chocolate. Mint. Cigar box. Black cherries. Caramel corn. Candied pecans. Charred oak. You wouldn't think this was 58.4% ABV based on the nose, which has little alcohol burn and lots of sweet, candied flavours. A few drops of water bring out malt and wood smoke. Pretty great, though a bit on the sweet side for me.

Oaky on the palate with more dark chocolate, pecan, butter tart, cayenne and a hint of maple. Again, remarkably smooth (maybe a bit too smooth?) for such a high ABV. Water makes things a bit spicier while also adding a sourdough note. Classic bourbon flavours in full effect here.

The finish is oaky with over-steeped tea, black pepper, more cloves and liquorice all-sorts. Although water improves things a bit, you really don't need to dilute this at all - the high ABV never makes itself too apparent. I've always been hit and miss on Wild Turkey but this one works quite well. The balance tilts a bit toward the sweet notes rather than the spice or oak, so if that is your preference - with a high ABV - you will really enjoy this.

@OdysseusUnboun,

Yes, Four Roses has a generous amount of rye in both mashbills; if I recall correctly E = 20% and B = 35% with both mashbills containing 5% barley. I was inferring that WT has a flavour profile that is distinct and different from Beam, Buffalo Trace, and FR, not that the "rye" element separated it from the others....I've tasted a few FR that tempted me to lay out a spread of Montreal Smoked Meat, mustard, and dill pickles.

@paddockjudge YOU DON'T NEED WHISKY TO PUT OUT MONTRAL SMOKED MEAT!

@Frost

Here in Australia, our colonial past has a connection with rum. We even had a Rum Rebellion. I'm a whisk(e)y drinker first and foremost, and certainly if American patriotism, culture and history can be summed up in one glass, I'm betting it's a whiskey. The stuff that Civil War soldiers sipped on (as opposed to the New South Wales Corps and their rum here)

Nose: charred oak, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon. This is such a fine tuned balance

Taste: vanilla, oak, baked apple pie

Finish: a long finish of oak, vanilla and some mint before finishing with a drying sensation

To is to be savoured and drank slowly. The ABV gives so much power without being over powering. This expression is affordable and readily available here and certainly something I will keep continue to keep stocked.

Definitely a really good bourbon! I am a WT fan and always have been. If you get a chance, get the Russell's Reserve Single Barrel. It's a bit less biting, but i think it is slightly better. I keep RRSB, WTRB and WR 101 around all the time, as I want a slightly different experience at times, but want it to be WT products, as they totally hit my taste profile. Another is Elijah Craig 12 YO Barrel Proof which has the same mash bill as WT, is 128-140 proof, and tastes awesome! Don't like the regular EJ 12 nearly as much.

Hello @Taco, I picked up a bottle of RRSB not long ago. I'm yet to open it, I had a hunch it may tick the boxes.

@Pete1969

Colour dark copper/mahogany

Bottle open 1 month 95% full, was a bit closed freshly opened.

Nose: left to settle in in glass for ten minutes and the rich caramel, toffee aroma is flowing out of the glass and can smell from a couple of feet away. Still slight alcohol on nose when Glencairn brought to nose but fades into luscious buttery toffee, oak and wood spices ,cinnamon and nutmeg to the fore with cloves tagging behind counterbalanced with dark dried fruits. Loving this before I even taste it.

Palate: wow, everything from the nose but delivered with such grace and balance it is majestic, sweet taste moving through spiced fruits without ever getting too spicy the alcohol is not present on the palate with the high proof never showing itself. Oak with a bit of leather in the background just adding to the complexity but never detracting by overpowering as a sweet orange citrus comes along and just marries it all together. This is a true masterclass of barrel selection and vatting.

Finish: lovely warm caressing finish which I never want to end and several minutes after the sip I start to wonder if it will. Long and warming the thick viscous nature of the liquid has coated my mouth and even after the fluid has been swallowed still getting the aromas wafting from the back of the mouth into nose.

I am a big fan of the 101 as a regular sipper the Rare Breed knocks the socks off it at every level, it is worth £30 hell yeah. Would I get a bottle of this instead of 2 bottles of 101, everyday of the week and twice on Sunday's is what my heart tells me but my head says no. I have heard the newer 112proof is not rated as highly so will be keeping my eyes open for another bottle or three of this before it all goes. A must have for every bourbon fan and IMHO any whisky lover should have a bottle of this on his shelf.

Batch: WT-03RB 108.2 proof

@benancio thanks for the kind words not hard too give an excellent review when the product is this good. I first had this on a bourbon night with friends who hadn't enjoyed the 101 8yr travel retail and I had to agree didn't match the 101 NAS I previously bought ( got 4 in the cupboard now, not making that mistake again) When we got to the WTRB it had put them off so I cracked a bottle of FR1B for them which is a favourite of mine and they all loved it. The bonus is I now have this all too myself ???? instead of the half bottle I would have been left with. Good to hear the 112 opens up nicely means I can delay buying more as already in the doghouse with wife for the growing whisky collection.

@Pete1969 A most excellent review for a most excellent bourbon. I always keep this in the bar along with the 101. Is it twice as good IDK, but it is pretty dam good, I'll buy two on Sunday. Rare breed batches have varied between 108 and 112, if you find a batch you like get them all! I picked up a 112 a 6 months ago and it opened up nicely, every bit as good as most other batches. Jimmy Russel does a better job than most with batch consistency.

Rare Indeed!

@tjb

This is a big, punchy cask strength that knows exactly what it wants to be. The bottle has been open 1 month and I had added a tiny drop of water to open it up. Big nose: Vanilla, apples, stewed apricots, fudge and orange zest. Big flavours: Vanilla, sweet caramel, citrus, apples, oranges and apricots. A bit of liquorice. Big flavours vying for attention. Big finish: Long warming with peppery bite. Sweet.

A great recommendation fro ma friend. Good any day but I suspect on a winters evening this will be like a log fire, warm blanket and hearty meal for the soul.

@tjb, it is good to see that you are enjoying your Wild Turkey Rare Breed. You've done a good job of capturing its intensity in the words of your review. Bravo. Barrel proof bourbons are rarely shrinking violets.

@victor thanks for the kind words and the original recommendation. This is one I will revisit many times I am sure.

@Nock

Just to compare the Wild Turkey 101 I picked up this miniature of Rare Breed. I have tried this on several occasions in the past. Lets see what tonight brings:

Nose: More subdued on the front then WT101. However, there is a much deeper sweetness with more brown sugar and less sourness. You seem to dive into that intense sweet dark brown sugar. With more time that sourness starts to come through in a very lovely and mature way. It makes the 101 seem thin similar to the Evan Williams Green vs. Black. The nose makes me think of baked apples, and deep thick applesauce heavily dosed with dark brown sugar. With water: more smoked BBQ, hickory oak, and sour apples.

Taste: Sweet brown sugar and vanilla on the front, with a bit of sour starting to emerge in the back. With more time on the tongue salt and sour dominate. A much thicker mouth-feel then the 101; more complex and enjoyable. With water: stands up very nicely (compared to the 101) with plenty of power, complexity and saltiness.

Finish: Huge salty explosion of brown sugar, vanilla, sour Granny Smith apples, allspice, and a dash of cayenne. This is a big and decimating finish, but in a very different way from the 101. I think I liked the 101 finish slightly better.

Balance, Complexity: Certainly more complex then the 101 especially on the tongue. However, it might not be quite as balanced – meaning the sweetness overpowered the sour. Maybe it is better to say that in the Rare Breed the sweet and sour took turns with solos as opposed to the duet that happened in the 101. All that said, I appreciate both the duet and the solos so I think this will come out ahead because of complexity and a wonderful mouth-feel.

Aesthetic experience: I love the “barrel strength” nature of this beast. However, I don’t love the name, bottle shape or label. Truth to be told, I like the aesthetic of 101 slightly better.

Conclusion: This is a tough one. I actually really like this bourbon . . . but it scores about the same for me as the WT 101 but costs $39.90 plus tax. For that price I would take Elijah Craig Barrel Proof every day (and twice on Sunday). So that is a significant up charge for Wild Turkey that is a little sweeter, and more complex. For my enjoyment level I will probably just stick with the WT 101 (unless I find this at large discount). However, I now am interested in comparing this to ECBP . . . and Stagg Jr.

@Victor

Wild Turkey Rare Breed is a mixture of bourbons of various ages, reported variously as 6,8,and 12 YO bourbons, elsewhere as 4,8,and 12 YO bourbons. It is sold at barrel proof/cask strength, i.e. undiluted. The reviewed bottle is from Batch W-T-01-99. The reviewed bottle has been open for 4 years and is half full. The review is of the whisky at 1 year bottle opened

Nose: lovely pointed flavours of baking spice from rye grain and of deep rich and sweet maplewood, including from the wood the natural flavours of caramel and vanilla. There is a lot of sweet here, but the dry balance is excellent. You can even smell a little char here, and it fits in beautifully

Taste: sharp, rich, deep, and sweet all at the same time. You can taste the older bourbons in this very strongly

Finish: rich and long, with all the flavours remaining until the end

Balance: this is a great bourbon, and a bourbon best buy. What makes Wild Turkey Wild Turkey to me is the extreme pointedness of its flavours. I love the pointed flavours, and they give tremedous ZIP to the whiskey. This pointedness is also usually present in most other Wild Turkey products, such as the Wild Turkey 101 Rye-- may it become available again soon. In the total spectrum of US whiskey "pointed vs rounded flavours", I think of Wild Turkey as being at the "pointed" extreme of bourbon and rye flavours, and of Four Roses and Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana products as being at the "rounded" extreme. I liked the 'pointed' style right away. It has taken me longer to like the rounded style. "Pointed" flavours are to me 'engaging' flavours. When someone new to bourbon who likes the Big Flavours asks me for a full-flavoured bourbon recommendation I steer her or him to either Booker's, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, or, if available, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. These three are the commonly available (soon, ECBP, I do hope!) and reasonably priced heart of the bourbon experience

@tjb, I have been looking forward to your opening of that bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed. I am glad to hear that it will be soon.

@Jonathan, "ZIP" as I use it, above, would be approximately equal to the word "stimulation". The pointedness of the flavours was that to which I was referring in the review. That pointedness I find intrinsically attention-getting. While I was not referring specifically to ABV in the context of this review, I might also use the word "zip" to refer to the attention-getting quality which would result from the relatively high concentration of flavours which the undiluted whiskey brings with it. Wild Turkey Rare Breed contains flavours both pointed in their quality and also possessing their full original unaltered concentration.

@DutchGaelisch, you'll do fine trying any one of the three bourbons you mention. They are all ones you should at some time get a taste of.

Wild Turkey 101 is really the 'standard' for the brand, since bourbon lovers rarely use the 80 and 81 proof bourbons for much but cocktails.

If all three are available to you I would suggest trying the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof next (it is also a 12 yo). That is quite a high octane experience, and (in the US) a much more difficult bottle to obtain. You will not believe the colour of that whiskey. Batches thus far come in at 67.1%, 68.5%, 66.6%, 66.2%, and 70.1% ABV.(N.B. the 66.2% batch is noticeably thinner in flavour structure than the other ECBPs I've had.) If you've never had bourbon above 60% abv, it is quite a treat. After that you can get back to the Wild Turkey 101 and Rare Breed, both of which will likely remain more regularly available. Drop me a line if you would like additional bourbon/American whiskey suggestions.

@valuewhisky

Note: review is from a 50 ml miniature bottle.

Nose: corn, oak, barrel char, vanilla. When I've had Rare Breed before, I've always particularly enjoyed the red-fruit notes I get, but I can't find them this time. Wait, there it is! It's a nice round nice with depth, and the red-fruit is discernable.

Palate: there's vanilla and corn sweetness, and fair body, then pow! there is the Serrano pepper. Rare Breed tingles the lips and tongue like no other whisky - much like eating a piece of Serrano pepper. Only drink this if you like spicy food. Again, I'm having trouble finding the red-fruit notes I remember so distinctly. Maybe I just had a great batch last time.

Finish: massive oak, spice, and barrel char. Minimal sweetness.

I like Rare Breed. Without question, I prefer it over Wild Turkey101, which I find a bit too rough and simple. Rare Breed is by no means easy and smooth, and is definitely spicier than 101, but it still seems more refined and is definitely more complex and enjoyable overall. That said, this isn't a must have for me at its price - $36 where I live compared to $23 for the 101. I'll generally pass on both to be honest, but wouldn't turn down a dram of either.

@GotOak91

My last installment of the bottles I bought in N.C. this one was the W.T. barrel proof Rare Breed. The people at the Wild Turkey distillery produce an odd proof when they bottle Rare Breed (108.2/54.1%) which is quite lower than most bottlings and its only a little higher from its popular W.T. 101 which made it a fine candidate to be tasted.

Nose: Oranges, tobacco, and fall baking spices i.e. (nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice), Even at 108.2 proof there isn't an offending amount of alcohol. Great so far..

Body: Medium with a slight oily mouthfeel.

Taste: Relatively smooth, definitely tingles the tongue at 54.1% ABV, notes of vanilla, oak, rye, dark chocolate or cocoa. The blend of 6, 8, and 12 year blend that makes up Rare Breed makes this an interesting dram.

Finish: Relatively short to medium most of the flavors drop away as soon as you swallow except for a few. Inside the drying and spicy finish those few flavors consist of a predominately lingering tobacco flavor with a little dark chocolate and rye intertwined.

@Pierre_W

Wild Turkey is distilled and bottled by Austin Nichols & Co., a division of the Campari Group. Rare Breed is one of the premium releases in the Wild Turkey range, a marriage of 6-, 8- and 12-year old stocks, resulting in an undiluted, cask-strength Bourbon. This review refers to a bottle from batch no. W-T-01-99.

The nose is incredibly sweet, yielding molasses, honey, oranges and some vanilla. There is also a peppery touch to it. This is unlike anything I have ever smelled before. Clearly, this is a big, big nose!

The palate is full-bodied, thick and very creamy. With the sweetness come oranges, vanilla and a hint of tobacco.

The finish is long, warm, fruity and spicy. I detected honey and dark chocolate.

Without doubt this is a big and assertive whiskey! It is almost perfectly balanced, I should say, but a little too sweet for my taste.

@markjedi1

Wild Turkey is fairly well known, even in Europe. This expression at cask strenght, the Rare Breed, no so much. It is produced near Lawrenceburg, Kenucky, by Austin Nichol’s, part of the Campari Group. You can visit the distillery – aptly nicknamed Wild Turkey Distillery – during the Bourbon Festival. It is part of the American Whiskey Trail and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. It was founded in 1869 by the Ripy Brothers and survived Prohibition. One of the early managers, Thomas McCarthy, went on a wild turkey hunting trip with friend in 1940 and brought along some warehouse samples. The next year, he forgot the whiskey and his friends asked him ‘So where is that wild turkey whiskey, Tom?’ A brand was born. Good story. But is it good whiskey?

The nose is soft on oak, peach, dades and honey. Some old leather and a hint of mint. The rye translates into a wonderful spiciness. Rather grand nose, actually.

The attack is massive and spicy. A kick to the teeth! Demarara sweetness, old leather again, raisins and oranges. Devilishly good, in fact!

The finish is very long and warm on nuts and liquorice. Honey and coconut finish the job.

This Wild Turkey Rare Breed is grand and generous and not for sissies.

Your review tells the Wild Turkey Rare Breed tale well, Mark. This is indeed intense, full-flavoured bourbon, 'not for sissies'. Wild Turkeys are big majestic birds which are quite startling to walk up upon unawares in a field and watch flush into the sky. Rare Breed provides a similar rush to stumbling upon wild turkeys in a field.

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@MaltActivist

Another gem from the wonderful world of bourbon. All the chocolaty oaky goodness in the nose comes rushing in when you take your first sip. Nice long and dry finish. Luckily I have a bottle that is straight out from the WT-03RB batch - the same one that Jim tasted from.

@Anonymous

When I was a reckless youth, I'd buy Wild Turkey because it was cheap. Now I have a new found respect for the label. This stuff is good! It's mild, sweet and has just the right amount of fruitiness. The pear/peach taste mixed with some oak is a great combination.

@boardsy, I didn't know there was a 12-year, and it does not seem available around here ... thanks for the suggestion though. The Kentucky Spirit is quite bold and distinguished, but not happily engaging as the Rare Breed ... and I wouldn't replace the KT Spirit.

I've got a bottle of this in my cabinet. It's already halfway and thanks to this thread I realise I haven't written any notes yet. Doh. I'll put it back on the tasting shelf. 60 does seem very low from what I remember, especially given the positive desciption.

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