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Wild Turkey Rye

Bit Of A Turkey

0 277

@talexanderReview by @talexander

5th Apr 2014


Wild Turkey Rye
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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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!

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Victor commented

@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.

10 years ago 0

talexander commented

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??

10 years ago 0

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