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Wild Turkey Rye

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Wild Turkey Rye

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Wild Turkey Rye

On a sunny spring day, I got the idea to make an Old Fashioned, but what whisky to use for it? After other good experiences with Wild Turkey I gave this one a try. It has a fairly high Rye content in the mash; about 70% so I should be able to taste the rye very well.

Nose: Red fruit like cherry and strawberry, big vanilla, light spicy rye notes and a little bit of glue. It smells a bit like a young cognac.

Palate: quite assertive but soft arrival, all the flavors come at once. Its not so sweet, which I like a lot. Its quite dry actually with bitter but fresh oak, roasted nuts, cocoa, apricot brandy, Indonesian spekkoek, toffee, honey.

Finish: The first wave quickly fades, but a warming glow remains for quite a while with cocoa, wooddust, cloves, honey, mocha and some strange but tasty green vegetal notes. Green asparagus or who ever heard of the vegetable Bimi? Something like that.

Compared to the violent power and bursting bold flavors of the Millstone 100 rye, this is the happy, easy to drink, summery equivalent/counterpart. It serves the purpose of making an Old Fashioned beautifully, better than most bourbons. Because of the dryness, more creativity in the sweetener is possible. (try maple syrup, honey, demerara sugar) but what I later found out when the bottle was nearly empty, it kind of holds up as a sipper too.

@PeatyZealot, thanks for your review.

Wild Turkey makes good Rye, but the 101 proof is SO much better than having it watered down to 40%. The Russell's Reserve by Wild Turkey is also nice.

In general 40% ABV US whiskeys are made for mixing, rather than sipping.

Where did you read/hear that the Wild Turkey rye content is around 70%? That would be quite high for large distillery US ryes. Usually the ryes from the large distillers hover closely near the US legal minimum 51% rye content level.

I forgot that you are a bartender. It was the US bartenders who brought US rye whiskey back from the brink of extinction about 10 years ago, precisely because it works so well in cocktails.

There is a wonderful book, The Twelve Bottle Bar, in which the authors have only one whisk(e)y among the 12 bottles, rye whiskey, precisely because they consider rye to be the most versatile among all whiskies for cocktail-making.

Yes Victor, when I was looking for the origins of the Old Fashioned, I learnt that they were first made with Rye whisky in stead of Bourbon. But during the prohibition almost all Rye whisky producers perished and after, the sweeter Bourbon replaced Rye whisky in the already existing cocktails. The 81 proof is already quite scarce here, I havent seen the 101 anywhere yet. But if I see it I'll grab it. Concerning the rye content: I was a little off, it should be 65%

"Wild Turkey Rye's mash bill is 23% corn, 65% rye, and 12% malt". from:



"Someone asked me recently, what about Wild Turkey Rye? I'd never asked them specifically, so I did, via the PR channels I'm supposed to use. Can't tell you, proprietary, they answered. Okay, can you tell me if it's more than 51 percent? Yes, it's more than 51 percent".

from: chuckcowdery.blogspot.nl/2014/05/…


Although tomorrow is the actual day, my daughter's birthday party is today. There shall be screaming children and trampolines. I'm considering bringing a flask. Dad Of The Year, huh? Yeah….right.

I can't believe she turns ten tomorrow…it's a cliche but it's true - the time goes by so fast. Hm. Maybe it's time for a drink…hmmmm let's try this one.

Though of course better known for its bourbon, the iconic distillery Wild Turkey also does a straight rye whiskey. Given rye was the original American whiskey, I wonder if the distillery made rye before they made bourbon?

The Wild Turkey brand was established in 1940 when the president of the Austin Nichols Distilling Co. (who owned the distillery at the time) took some 101 proof bourbon with him on a wild turkey shoot. Today, legendary Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, with his son Eddie (who is responsible for Wild Turkey Rye) craft these extremely popular whiskeys. Eddie Russell's rye is made from whiskeys between 4 and 5 years old, that have been matured in heavy-Alligator-charred new white oak barrels.

The colour is a pale yellow-gold. On the nose, you first get strong citrus notes (both lemon and grapefruit pith), lime (almost Mountain Dew!) and a hint of milk chocolate. The oak is quite light here, despite the char of the barrels. Some rum raisin. There is complexity here but it is fairly light and unassuming. More rye notes come through with a little water.

On the palate, more lemon/lime/grapefruit, with some spice. Tangy. Now noticing some orange peel as well. Remarkably citrusy for a rye, and even more so with water.

The finish is medium length, with spice, cardamom and fresh lemon juice. Based on the tasting notes above, you might think that it sounds like it's barely a rye whiskey, and that is my sense too. Though the nose is complex, the palate is fairly one-note, and generally it is lighter and, well, blander than any other American rye I've had. Also (and perhaps @Victor would know this) I believe previous bottlings were at 50.5% ABV, rather than 40.5%, which might explain things. Even the Wild Turkey website suggests just using this as a mixer in cocktails - so that tells you something!

@talexander, I tried to warn you to wait for the Wild Turkey 101 Rye to return. The 40% abv and 40.5% abv bourbons and ryes are usually intended for mixing. Wild Turkey 101 Rye is actually already back in certain markets, though not yet where I live.

Having had some really good 40% abv US Ryes 5 or 6 years ago and having watched the low ABV products slide in quality quite a bit since then, I am of the firm opinion that the expansion of the US straight rye whiskey market has led to general product upselling, with the best barrels being reserved for the higher priced products. I believe that Jim Beam's Knob Creek Rye contains what would have been the best barrels of what otherwise (and previously) would have given quality to Jim Beam Yellow Label Rye. As for Wild Turkey, I suspect that the best barrels will be used for Russell's Reserve 6 YO Rye and for the Wild Turkey 101 Rye. The Wild Turkey 81 proof rye would likely be what is left over after barrel selection for those other two products. And there might well be other special edition products in the works also removing the creme de la creme barrels from the low proof high volume mass market product's available pool of barrels.

Thus far I have not had a sip of Wild Turkey 81 proof rye, because it just hurts too much to think of the absence of the Wild Turkey 101 Rye.

Yep, you did warn me, totally - but hey I thought, why not try it, it's one bottle and it's inexpensive! Also, I'm a terrible listener. I do like (but don't love) the Knob Creek rye. But it's really too bad the best spirits are going into premium bottles (that I am sure we will not get here in Ontario, besides KC rye and the odd Sazerac). Why can't the rivers flow with Handy, for all to enjoy??


nose: caramel, vanilla, plastic, spice, burnt bread

flavor: very spicy rye, cinnamon, vanilla, fairly woody, lemon, black pepper

finish: a bit harsh, woody, slight burnt, light citrus

overall: initially kind of turned off by some harsh boozy notes, but I did end up enjoying how much rye lingers on the tongue. not overly entertaining or complex but I'm sure it's enjoyable enough if you're looking for an affordable dose of high boost. 750mL purchased at Wilbur's Fort Collins for $24.99

For a connoisseur, it is usually not a good idea to buy either bourbons or US ryes below 45% ABV. The 40% products are INTENDED for mixing. 50% ABV is an even better minimum, though there are some great 45% ABV products. Occasionally a very good batch of rye will come through at 40% ABV, but that is ONLY occasionally, and it seems that now that rye whiskey demand is much larger worldwide than it has been since the onset of Prohibition, that brands are upselling their better barrels...i.e. selling the best barrels as premium products at higher prices. 40% Jim Beam Yellow Label Rye was a lot better 5 years ago than it is today, largely, I think, because those barrels of Knob Creek 50% ABV Rye have to come from somewhere.


nose: caramel, vanilla, plastic, spice, burnt bread

flavor: very spicy rye, cinnamon, vanilla, fairly woody, lemon, black pepper

finish: a bit harsh, woody, slight burnt, light citrus

overall: initially kind of turned off by some harsh boozy notes, but I did end up enjoying how much rye lingers on the tongue. not overly entertaining or complex but I'm sure it's enjoyable enough if you're looking for an affordable dose of high boost.


Today I decided to crack open yet another sample of whisky from my sexy whisky calender. I've been in an American whisky kinda mood so I decided to crack open my sample of Wild Turkey Rye whiskey while I'm sitting here watching The Wire.

Now I've only tried Wild Turkey once before, for when my wife decided to make some ribs that are done with some sexy bourbon sauce. I wasn't blown away with my first taste of it, that's for sure, so here's hoping this is going to go better.

A sweet spicy nose comes off the glencairn once the whiskey is poured, rye spices, almost bready at times, quite a good deal of honey, a whiff of pepper, some vanilla, a good dose of citrus.

A nice pleasant nose, nothing super exceptional, but nice and easy going, enjoyable.

As the city deteriorates even further in The Wire, with school finance issues and a drug dealer hiding all the bodies, I decide that it's time to take a sip.

Spicy with a good dose of rye, some oak, peppery, a wee bit of vanilla, but more bitter then anything else and sadly with the faintest hint of chemical flavor that is vaguely unpleasant.

A spicy finish, peppery with burnt oak and rye and that chemical flavor coming through, ends the whiskey. At the very end of the finish is the faintest hint of fruit, oranges I'd say.

It's definitely not the worst whiskey I've ever had, but I've certainly had quite a few rye whiskies that I've enjoyed much more. However all those whiskies are more expensive then this guy, which runs at around $50 a bottle over here in Australia, which makes it a fairly reasonable price for what you're getting.

If you're looking for a change up in the American whiskey scene and haven't tried a rye whiskey, this isn't the worst place to start, but personally I'd rather spend a wee bit more money and grab a bottle of Sazerac Rye.


Nose: distinctly Spicy (more savory spice then sweet on my nose), peppercorns, toasted rye bread, slight citrusy notes, an undercurrent of the slight vinilla and corn sweetness you get from a bourbon. The 50.5% alc carries the flavours exceptionally well and tickles the nose.

Palate: zesty and tangy, slight honey sweetness with vinilla's, spiciness is back, with some bittersweet woody flavours, hints of charcoal, slight hints of buttered corn and toasted grains.

Finish: Quite long, Lingering notes from the Palate, lovely toasted grains, some cooked vinilla and a citrusy zestiness.

First Rye whisky ever so I hope this review isn't too bad, I found this to be a lovely little bottle and damn cheap as well. Works well as a mixer with coke instead of bourbon and considering it's quite cheap I'll be able to make real Manhattan cocktails on a reasonable budget. Can't wait to check out other rye whisky's.

If I had little money, and could only buy one whiskey, Wild Turkey 101 Rye would be my one and only bottle. Wild Turkey just brought out a new 40.5% rye, but 40% is really too dilute to enjoy the full effect.

This little whisky defiantly is a golden nugget, it's cheap, it's 50%alc, it's really good as a mixer, great neat and in cocktails. Really ticks all the boxes to be a great all rounder.


The reviewed bottle has been open for about 18 months and was purchased in early 2010. I have not sampled very recently released Wild Turkey 101 Straight Rye Whiskey.

Nose: strong sweet penetrating spice notes: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a hint of black pepper. A delightful display of the flavours of rye. Moderate vanilla and a little caramel from the oak. Delicious.

Taste: moderately chewy mouthfeel, with the spices and wood flavours translating strongly onto the palate. Penetrating flavours. Sweetness is unusual in US Straight Rye Whiskey. This is one of the sweetest ryes I have encountered. If you like rye flavours you should like this whiskey.

Finish: long, strong, and consistent, with a gradual phase out of all of the component flavours together.

Balance: Bottling at 50.5% ABV retains the flavours nicely and avoids the sometimes dilute quality of 40% ABV ryes.

Rye whiskey is my favourite style of whisk(e)y and rye grain flavours are my favourite flavours in all of whisk(e)y. Wild Turkey 101 Rye exhibits solid flavours from both grain and wood in a well-balanced package. The reviewed bottle is from the 2010 release. I noticed that Jim Murray gave the 2011 release Wild Turkey Rye a much lower grade in his 2012 Bible than he gave to previous releases in his 2011 Bible and in his previous writings. I don't know whether a bottle bought today will taste as good as the one I am reviewing. Speaking for this and my previous bottles of Wild Turkey Rye, this is my favourite standard US straight rye whiskey, and my single favourite whisk(e)y available in the US at under US $30.

@Wills, no, WT 101 Rye, like most US straight rye whiskeys, is made with just over the US legal minimum 51% rye content for the "straight rye whiskey" designation. Typically most US straight ryes will contain perhaps between 51 and 55 % rye grain.

The Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon has minority rye grain. I don't recall the exact percentage, but I believe that it is between 15 and 20%.

Yes, rye grain, and especially the unmalted rye grain which is most often used in US straight ryes, is usually very spicy in the flavours it conveys. Ryes can also have dark-fruity flavours, but spiciness is even more characteristic of rye. Cloves, cinnamon/cassia, nutmeg, black pepper, and ginger are typical. Dark fruits: black cherries, plums.

@Alanxv, I am delighted that you are enjoying Wild Turkey 101 Rye. For whiskey life in the USA, where Wild Turkey 101 Rye is for the time being still quite inexpensive, if I were very low on money, this would be the very first bottle I would buy for myself.


Only a whisky drinker in the last year, my own self-guided tour shared with Grant at Culinary Spirits until I found Connsr. Mazeltov to you all.

My local purveyor dis not possess a deep bench of rye whiskey despite 20 feet worth of whiskey displays 7 feet tall. Without guidance from the staff nor the leadership of a distiller of choice, I flipped a coin between the $15 Jim Beam versus the Wild Turkey.

I must say this game of chance led me to a very good value.

My cabinet always has Evan Williams Black as I continuously find it to be the best value bourbon, and in fact better than the other better selling Kentucky types. Likewise, Wild Turkey Rye should go into any beginners list as they begin their whiskey sojourn/matriculation/expensive new hobby.

Nose: Smelled like the comfy bourbons I know (caramel), but a touch of burn on the soft tissues. Said heat must emanate from the 100 proof or the peppery woodsiness. I am not afraid.

Color: More brownish-red than other whiskys

Palate: Pow. THe heat of the 100 proof set a wake-up call, followed by a little oak and the peppery spice which if I really tried I could recall a weak chipotle pepper. But overall very smooth and satisfying as I tilt to the bolder drinks and away from sweet.

If I were to produce an old Western, the mise-en-scene would fail unless there were many bottles of Wild Turkey Rye behind the counter. While far from a premium balance and smoothness, worthy of a spot in your usual rotation.

@linusstick, Wild Turkey Rye is a staple in my cabinet as well. I could be very happy with it as my only whiskey on a desert island or cabin in the Yukon. It is great with Diet Dr. Pepper, ice, and a large slice of sweet orange. It is a great standard rye.

This is the one and only staple in my liquor cabinet. I drink this regularly so I don't tap into my good single malts.

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