Chapter 12, Part 4:
For the second consecutive year, over the month of November, Flight Club will be bringing you “30 Turkeys in 30 days.” Each day, we will post a review of a different Wild Turkey product. Throughout that journey, we will provide you with background information on the company, the products, and the people behind the products, all of which we hope create a better understanding of what Wild Turkey brings to the world of bourbon and rye whiskey. A table of contents for each of these posts can be found here.
In this Chapter 12, we review five “Classic 101’s.” We selected five different 101’s to acquire and sample for Wild Turkey Month 2018 – a 1992 Wild Turkey 12 Year “Cheesy Gold Foil,” a 1999 Wild Turkey 101, the original Wild Turkey Kentucky Legend from the early 1990’s, a 1987 Wild Turkey 101 8 Year, and a 1993 Wild Turkey 12-Year “Split Label.” Jamie Baalmann, Stephen Benson and I elected to sample the five bottles blind. We post these reviews in no particular order.
Today we move on to the oldest of the bunch – the Wild Turkey 101 8 Year from 1987. Prior to 1992, Wild Turkey’s signature product – the Wild Turkey 101 – was an 8 year age stated product. That year it lost its age statement in the United States, and became, like many, “the old No. 8 brand” (through the late 1990’s) It would continue with its 8 year age statement in international markets.
Despite its age statement, there is really no indication on how old the product in the bottle actually is. It is widely known that Wild Turkey Distiller Jimmy Russell is said to have often times used much older whiskey than indicated in his blends, due in large part to the glut of bourbon during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
Nose: Musty; raisin; medicinal; old potting soil (not fresh out of the bag, but that in the house plant that has been sitting there for 10 years); vanilla; toffee; whopper (inside and out); old leather; acrid oak (a woodworker’s note); cream soda; dried spearmint and sage. Rich and complex. (4.5/5)
Palate: Vanilla custard (heavy on the egg custard); nutmeg; cinnamon; amaro; burnt sugar; thick cola and cream soda; burnt log; smarties candy. Interesting, but not overly pleasing. (3.5/5)
Finish: Big Red gum; Christmas spice; cranberry; pinecone; custard; potpourri; pixie sticks. (4/5)
Overall: This is a hard one to gauge in terms of “Turkey.” It is a bit heavy on the cinnamon spice like a more modern era Wild Turkey (as least in comparison to the others we sampled), but also has rich notes that feel very old and creamy like we would expect from an older generation of whiskey. We actually pegged this for the most recent of the bunch (the 1999 Wild Turkey 101). Very good, but not great. (4/5)
Value: This was purchased recently in a one liter size for $300. We weren’t disappointed, but we had hoped this would be higher on the value scale. (3.5/5)
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.