The NEW Wild Turkey 81: Less Is More?

Remember when you were a kid and your Mom or Dad would say, “Lets go for Ice Cream!”  The instant release of endorphins as you loaded into the family truckster for that trip to Baskin Robbins, or DQ, or where ever.  Truth is it didn’t matter where you went for the ice cream, the Ice Cream was a destination in itself…Happytown.  If I ever open an Ice Cream store, I’m naming it Happytown Ice Cream, because lets face it when you were a kid no one was lactose intolerant, and a trip to get some sugar infused frosty goodness was a trip to happiness.  Yes it is hard to feel bad when you’re eating and Ice Cream Cone.

Now imagine if you could only have a little one, a tiny one, one that was the smallest ice cream you have ever had.  Kinda disappointing, right?  Now imagine that that small ice cream cone was the best flavor you’ve ever had in an ice cream.  Hmmm…that’s a bit of a mixed bag.  Well that is what happened with me and the New Wild Turkey 81…

Wild Turkey is a first in many different ways for Wild Turkey.  First and foremost it is Eddie Russell’s project from top to bottom.  Yes this is the first whiskey that has come out of Wild Turkey in the last 40+ years that Master Distiller Jimmy Russell had nothing to do with.  No input, no help whatsoever.  Eddie (Jimmy’s son and Senior Associate Distiller)  wanted to have a bourbon all his own, and I gotta say it does what it set out to do!

Wild Turkey’s flagship bourbon their 101 is an institution in the Bourbon Whiskey industry.  Its flavor profile is undeniable, and its in your face flavor and big finish is the stuff of legends.  However, all that alcohol can be difficult to work with.  Let me explain.

Through extensive “research”, if you can call sitting in bars and talking to bartenders while drinking Wild Turkey research, Eddie identified a problem.  Wild Turkey 101 was a great bourbon for sipping, but many people couldn’t handle the slap to the face that the 101 proof gave to their mixed drink.  So Eddie, seeing the trend towards mixing got to work on the problem.

Wild Turkey 81 is his answer.  This whiskey was very interesting.  It was kinda Meh when I drank it straight.  You might expect that as it was specifically developed for mixing.  So, the best way to test it was to give it a mix.  I don’t typically drink mixed whiskey drinks, but when I do I like me some Whiskey cokes.  So whiskey coke it was.  And I have to tell you this stuff came to life!  It is by FAR the best mixing bourbon I’ve ever drank.  This is for a several reasons.  First it is the highest rye mash bill for such a low proof bourbon, giving it that distinctive Wild Turkey flavor.  Also it is aged in a very high char barrel, giving it a very heavy caramel and vanilla flavor.  Finally it is a mix of bourbons that have been aged 6, 7, and 8 years, making it one of the longest aged bourbons in its class.  These things combine to give it great flavor while it stands up to mixing.

Make no mistake this is a great mixing bourbon.  I like the idea that Wild Turkey took the time to specifically make a whiskey that is designed to give great flavor when mixed.  So many mixing whiskeys are bad whiskies for sipping.  You know if it doesn’t taste good, or isn’t your favorite, mix it to power through the bottle.  This is different, it celebrates the mix, and afterall if you are going to drink whiskey it should be good whether you mix it or not.  In my mind Wild Turkey has nailed it.  I will be drinking more of this.  Gonna get my mix on…ohy  yea.

-Don

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11 Comments on “The NEW Wild Turkey 81: Less Is More?”

  1. June 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Once I was eating an ice cream cone and felt very bad because a dog was attacking my crotch. Now, ice cream cones give me nightmares and I’ll probably have one tonight .

    • Don
      June 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

      Wow. That is just like A Clockwork Orange.

  2. FatCatKC
    June 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Boooooooooo! Not you guys, you do a great job as always, but 81 proof come on man. Thats like defacing a national monument. Bad Eddie Bad!

    • Don
      June 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

      Now Fat Cat, not everything is made specifically for your palate. I don’t like really sour beer like La Folie, buit others love it. I don’t boo the brewery for making it, I just can’t stand the stuff. It is like drinking beer that has been strained through a crusty old gym sock. But I know others like drinking gym sock beer, so it is ok. This is for people who like their bourbon mixed, and the concept of embracing that market is a good one. They will continue to make the hard stuff, now they have one that is for mixer people. 😉

  3. Rob Crozier
    June 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    I kinda like that WT saw a market and produced something specific; I’m not one for mixed drinks but I guess if I was, I would choose a “better quality” bourbon to mix with.

    • Don
      June 21, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

      I’m in the same boat Rob, I normally do not mix my bourbon, but this was really good, and their attention to detail in making a great mixing bourbon is evident. Good stuff.

  4. PeteO
    June 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I like bourbon neat, on ice, and mixed. My tendency is to drink it mixed with Sprite or Ginger Ale in the warmer months, and neat/over ice in the cooler months.

    I like the concept of a bourbon recipe specifically for mixing.

    If you ever make it to the Louisville area, you should hunt down a Graeters ice cream shop and try their bourbon ball ice cream (made with Woodford Reserve and only available in the Louisville area stores). Happytown is exactly where you’ll be.

    • Don
      June 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

      I am more of a neat drinker, or with a splash, but this was really great mixing bourbon. It wasn’t bad neat, just had a very small finish. Bourbon Ball Icecream would be Happytown all the way!

  5. John Joyce
    June 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Mixing? Why even bother. I made the greatest whisky ever that goes with coke? A whisky needs to stand alone or its just carmel colored water with alcohol.

    • Don
      June 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

      Now John, just because that is your opinion doesn’t make it so for everyone. This is a rather controvercial product for WT, but I’m here to tell you it is way better than their 80 proof version of their flagship bourbon, and doesn’t even compare for mixing purposes. It is good stuff, and if you were to drink it straight without mixing, it still has very good flavor, just lacks the punch in the finish.

  6. John Joyce
    June 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Still looking for the finish in Angels Envy. Thankfully I had some Antique to hold me over. However I do enjoy the very occasional Bourbon and coke with a Spritz of lime on a hot, hot summer day so maybe i’ll try it someday.

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