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Whiskey # 3 Wild Turkey

TurkeyI’ve only ever drank Wild Turkey 101 proof bourbon from the Austing Nichols distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.  Upon doing my research for this post however I fould out that they actually have an 86 proof and an 80 proof version of the bourbon.  Perhaps in a later post I can look into these less endowed versions.  Nah…what’s the point.  Go big or go home, so here goes.

wild turkey

Wild Turkey was actually founded by the Ripy family in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky in 1869.  True this whiskey’s origins date back 140 years!  It is a mega distillery, and it would be considered in the top three in the nation as far as volume and popularity are concerned.  Soooo…while it isn’t the Budweiser of Bourbon Whiskey, it is probably like the Coors, and frankly its taste reflects its mass production and lack of attention to the finer qualities of whiskey.  They produce lots of this stuff for lots of bars and lots of people across the nation, and I’m ok with that.  I’m not going to sit here and blow smoke and say its a great whiskey, because it aint.  But for many people it is their first introduction to whiskey and if it can produce more converts and create more interest in Kentucky Bourbon, that’s a good thing.  If you’ve been introduced to Wild Turkey and like the basic flavor, chances are that you are probably going to try other whiskeys that may pull you into the fold and introduce you to some whiskeys you can truely love.

When you first pour wild turkey it isn’t as fragrant as other whiskeys.  I had a hard time getting my bearings with this whiskey, because it has a small and rather dull nose.  I finally was able to pull the fragrance of pear and some apple from the nose, along with an undertone of oaky smoke.  But again it was very slight and understated.

As stated previously it is 101 proof or 50.5% alcohol by volume, and I believe therein lies its popularity.  It is an inexpensive potent bourbon whiskey that has a mass appeal.  There is no listing of its age on the bottle, and it makes no mention of its age on the web site so suffice it to say it is aged somewhere between 2 years (the minimum required by law) and 8 years, because there is both an 8 and a 12 year aged variety which are slightly more expensive.

Neat

Turkey drinks neat, which was surprising to me, first because of its mass appeal, and secondly because of its proof.  I was expecting some sort of tastebud numbing flame to shoot out of the glass, but instead it was slightly sweet with the pear flavor I detected in the nose, then quickly bitter, dry, and slightly oaky with some heat on the back side.  When allowed to linger the heat stays with you for around a minute or so.  Its intensity is understated, but so is the flavor.  It disipates quickly and that is where the satisfaction ends.

On the Rocks

Wild turkey stands up to ice, but its flavor is diminished even quicker andthe heat is tamed.  Of course at 101 proof it is still going to have heat, but it really does subside quickly and you end up taking larger drinks more frequently to rejuvenate its modest flavor notes.

With a Splash

It does ok with water, but while there is still heat, the small nose is now more like the smell of rubbing alcohol and smoke.  It still produces a modicum of heat, but the flavor…where is the flavor?  Its pretty well gone.  Not that there was a lot to begin with.

Conclusion

You get what you pay for most of the time, and if you buy an inexpensive mass produced bourbon from a mega distillery you get the silver bullet of whiskey.  No one expects a Coors Light to be a Chimay, or even a Sam Adams so you shouldn’t expect Wild Turkey to be a Bookers or a Knob Creek.  So my recommendation is to avoid this whiskey if you can, but if your choices are Turkey, Beam or Daniels at a well drink bar, go with the turkey…or find a better bar.

-Don

PERSONAL NOTE

I originally bought this bottle of Wild Turkey 101 for a guys weekend in Sun Valley, Idaho.  My good friend Mike Pepper hosted it in his condo, and Me and my other good friend Lance Holmstrom spent the weekend doing guy stuff, including drinking this whiskey.  I’d like to extend a personal apology to both Mike and Lance for picking up such an inferrior Bourbon Whiskey.  Hopefully the wine, Tuaca, and farm fresh egg Salmon omlettes I made the next morning made up for this transgression and abuse of our friendship.  I know we aren’t in college any more, and as you say Mike life is too short to drink shitty whiskey.  So please accept my heartfelt apology and I promise to do better next time.

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Categories: Whiskey

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