A Wild Night with Wild Turkey

The online sampling went well. It was what happened after that we'll have fond and fuzzy memories of.

Don and I had the pleasure of taking part in an online tasting with Wild Turkey last night.  And while we both survived sampling the six beverages they provided, the “after party” nearly killed us (one of us more than the other).  Oh, and Don won the Ice War.

It's a free box o' booze!

But let’s start at the beginning.  Wild Turkey’s PR folks contacted us and asked if we wanted a box of free booze.  There’s only one way to answer that question, right?  So we signed up to take part in an online tasting, where we’d sample six of their products and chat with master distiller Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie, who is the heir apparent to the throne when Jimmy steps down.  Taking part in this was a no-brainer because Don likes Wild Turkey’s stuff and, as a whiskey noob, I need all the education I can get.

So they walked us through some of their products – here’s what we tried and the order we sampled them…

  1. The everyday Wild Turkey 101
  2. Kentucky Spirit, a big character single barrel treat
  3. The smooth charms of Russell Reserve 10
  4. The barrel-proof wonder which is Rare Breed
  5. The sly and peppery Russell Reserve Rye 6
  6. And finally the syrupy sweet American Honey, which is a liqueur best suited IMO as glaze for salmon or pork

My new favorite board game!

It was a kick for me to sample so many whiskeys back-to-back and discover their differences.  It was also cool to hear from Jimmy and Eddie Russell, who are as salt-of-the-earth as you might imagine two old school distillers from Kentucky to be. I asked the fellas how much ice you should put into a glass of whiskey (a running debate here on the site) and the Russell boys confirmed what Don’s been saying all along – two cubes.  That’s right, Don has won the Ice War.

I learned a lot about whiskey last night, that’s for sure.  I really enjoyed everything but the 101 (too basic for me) and the American Honey (too sweet!) and will certainly picking up some Kentucky Spirit and Rare Breed in the future, once my generous sampling bottles are drained.

NOTE TO DON: Water and pretzels help alot.

I paced myself throughout the tasting, pouring conservative samples and cleansing my palate with water and pretzels in-between each bourbon.  So I was doing okay until the phone rang right after the sampling was done.   It was Don, and he wanted to compare notes.  And he was a little bit, uh, slurry.  You see, he hadn’t eaten for six hours before the sampling, so he was drinking on an empty stomach.  And here’s where things got worse.

We got to talking about the whiskeys and how they compare to each other and other whiskey’s we’ve had.  I poured a nip of Knob Creek (my current favorite) to see how it compared to everything else I just had.  Don listened as I compared it to Rare Breed, drinking some Rare Breed himself.  Then we got to arguing about how the Kentucky Spirit drank, so we each poured some and compared notes.  Then we compared that to rare Breed again.  At some point, Don was also re-sampling the Russell Reserve 10 while I had a beer, Weyerbacher’s Verboten, a Belgian IPA.  That’s a lot of booze, and I’m pretty sure we had more than I recall.

So I was nicely buzzed, but hungry Don was HAMMERED!!! His words were slurred, his train of thought was off the rails, and at one point he accidentally hung up on me.  I was impressed that he was able to successfully redial my number so we could continue our whiskey gossip.

And you know what? It was awesome, almost like hanging out together in the same place and throwing some drinks back.  Honest to goodness brotherly bonding which is a rare treat when we’re across the country from one another.  I thank Wild Turkey for giving us all the free booze and the chance to do something together even when we’re so far apart.

The culprits. Sure they look innocent, but too much of a good thing can be...aw screw it..a good thing!

Don tried to say that him getting wasted while I was more composed shows that I have the higher tolerance for alcohol, but I disagree. I’m pretty much a lightweight.  I think it boils down to the fact that I ate first and hydrated and he didn’t.  At some point his wife diagnosed the situation and brought him a plate of food, which I think helped.  We decided we need to have a brotherly throwdown and go shot for shot under scientifically controlled conditions to see who can hold their liquor better.  But that’s for another time.

We signed off for the evening and somewhere in Idaho Kathy nursed Don into bed as I hit the hay in New Jersey.  Don could rest well with the knowledge that he had scored a major victory.  He won the Ice War.  I’m pretty sure he’s celebrating this morning with and icepack, some Advil, and low guttural moans.

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Categories: Lifestyle, review, Whiskey


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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25 Comments on “A Wild Night with Wild Turkey”

  1. June 18, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    Ever hear of spitting, guys?! LOL. Not that it’s anywhere near as fun as getting hammered, but seriously, if I didn’t spit at some of the tastings I attend, I wouldn’t get to accurately taste very much 🙂

    • June 18, 2010 at 11:40 am #

      Us Galligan men don’t spit – we swallow!!

      Oh dear, that doesn’t sound right. Anyway, we were doing fine during the tasting and I made it through all six varieties with just a minor buzz. So we tasted everything accurately the first time. It was the second and third time that caused the problem. By the time I had the Weyerbacher Verboten, I could barely taste it. My palate was fried and so was I.

    • Don
      June 18, 2010 at 11:42 am #

      Katie, the problem with Whiskey (Not really a problem at all IMO) is that so much of the whiskey experience is tied up in the finish. You have to swallow to get that. If you spit it out, you’ve missed at least half the experience. Probably I would have been better off eating something, hydrating during the event (and the afterparty) and pouring smaller samples. 🙂

      • June 18, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

        Uhh, everything has a finish….wine has a finish, too 🙂 Eating and hydrating would definitely have helped, but if you like to swallow just cuz you like to swallow, at least just be man enough to say it like Jim, and not blame it on trying to ascertain the “finish” 🙂 I kid, I kid….

        • Don
          June 18, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

          Oh, I swallow Katie! That’s my problem, I swallow everything. Ice cream, cookies, truffles…

      • June 18, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

        I can’t believe you just made a backhanded play for some of Katie’s truffles, Don!

        • Don
          June 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

          I’m always playing the angles Jim.

      • June 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

        The man does get points for subtlety!

  2. Don
    June 18, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    See that is the thing when you have a lot to drink, but what you are drinking is very good quality bourbon. No hangover! I’m a little cloudy today, and my equilibrium is off kilter a bit, but no headache, no low gutteral moans, just a little alcohol haze that I can deal with!

    Here is another thing I learned about last night. While I had the Russells there, I thought I would ask them if they had any plans to make a wheat bourbon. Something like a Maker’s Mark, or an Old Rip Van Winkle. Their answers were interesting. Jimmy (Eddie’s father) said they were Rye distillers, and that was that, Eddie on the other hand left a little more to the interpretation with his answer saying things like “Currently there were no plans to make a wheat bourbon” and “it doesn’t fit their current corporate structure”. To me, reading between the lines that means that once the old man passes watch out! Wild Turkey will be making a wheater and I’m thinking it will be pretty awesome!

    It was a great night, and I echo Jim’s sentiments about the brotherly bonding. It was almost like we were in the same room watching reruns of Top Gear and geeking out!

    • June 18, 2010 at 11:42 am #

      I agree that bourbon hangovers are superior, Don. I’m pleasantly gummy today, but not hating life.

  3. Stacy
    June 18, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Sounds like a great night…especially the afterglow! Let me know the next time you finish a tasting and I’ll join you!

    • June 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

      It’s a great time to ask probing questions about the past, that’s for sure Stace! Maybe we should have a drunken teleconference one day.

  4. June 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    Don should have written this post last night. I think the whole internet would have been howling with laughter!

    Sounds like you had a great time and now we can at least put the ice war to rest. (I’ll miss the ice war.) 😦

    • Don
      June 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

      Scott if I tried to write this post last night it would have looked something like this:

      We haz whiske and iz wa goo kefjw[ wkfm wim [weopkfm ]wp]

    • June 18, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

      I agree it would have been funny, Scott, but you really can’t read fvndlf vlknflfd r;ejg ;df; d;fbjdf, now can you?

      I’ll miss the Ice War, too, but the big cheese has spoken and peace shrouds the land like freshly fallen snow (or a freshly shaved sno cone). I think I’m gonna cry.

  5. Rob Crozier
    June 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    If you guys had to rate your favorites in order (looks like there are 6 bottles), how would that go?

    • Don
      June 18, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

      Good Question Rob. My order would be this 1: WT Rare Breed, 2: Kentucky Spirit, 3: Russell’s Reserve Rye 6, 4: WT 101, 5: Russell’s Reserve 10 yr, 6: American Honey.

    • June 18, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

      1 – Rare Breed
      2 – Kentucky Spirit
      3 – Russell Reserve 10
      4 – Russell Reserve Rye 6
      5 – Wild Turkey 101
      6 – American Honey, which isn’t a bourbon but a sweet liqueur

    • June 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

      Glad we differ here, as we each have different tastes, but you can clearly see what the good stuff is.

  6. Rob Crozier
    June 18, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    Yes, I can…and thanks for the taking the time to list them. Now its off to the store to see if I can find any of those bottles!

  7. Charles
    June 18, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Rare Breed is a great bourbon! Would you consider Gentleman Jack to basic?

    • June 18, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

      I’ll leave that one to Don as I’ve never had Gentleman Jack. Heck, before last night I hadn’t had Wild Turkey either, so that should tell you all you need to know about my whiskey credentials. If it ain’t Knob Creek, I don’t know!

    • Don
      June 18, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

      Charles, I’ve only had the Gentleman Jack once a few years back, and from what I can remember it wasn’t that memorable. I’ll pick one up one of these days and give it a review. They sell 350ml bottles at my liquor store, so not too big of an investment needed to give it a go.


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