For the third 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. A table of contents for each of these posts can be found here.
Chapter 14, Part 2:
What do we mean? In 2017, Campari introduced its Whiskey Barons Collection, featuring “reproductions” of Old Ripy and Bond & Lillard bourbons. Both of those products link back to local Lawrenceburg, Kentucky distilleries.
Much of the controversy surrounding those first two releases centered around the lack of purported involvement of the Russell family. Although these new products were purportedly produced at the Wild Turkey Distillery, the Whiskey Barons Collection appeared to be driven entirely by Campari, with Jimmy and Eddie Russell disclaiming any involvement whatsoever. According to Campari, “While their insights and expertise are valued above all else, Wild Turkey Master Distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell were not involved with the creation of Old Ripy and Bond & Lillard, as they were fully committed with projects for Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve – the hallmarks of Campari America’s America Whiskey portfolio. However, moving forward, Eddie Russell will be pouring his passion and expertise into the development of future Whiskey Barons products while continuing his role as Master Distiller and key product innovator for Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve.”
In early 2019, Campari introduced the third release of the Whiskey Barons Collection, dubbed W. B. Saffell, and Eddie was front and center.
Who was W.B. Saffell? While the Old Ripy line had actual ties to present Wild Turkey, Bond & Lillard did not. Nor does W. B. Saffell (unless you count that the Russells once lived in the Saffell house) W. B. Saffell was a young distiller in Lawrenceburg, and started his own distillery in 1889. He would die in 1910, but the distillery itself would survive until prohibition.
This release is a blend of 6, 8, 10 and 12 year bourbons. It is bottled at 107 proof. It is non-chill filtered.
Nose: Rich. Maple syrup; caramel; burnt sugar; barrel char; creamed corn; baking spice (cinnamon, nutmeg); ginger; faint pepper; grapefruit and blood orange; vanilla bean custard; cigar wrapper. Complex and spot on with the proof. (4/5)
Palate: A heavy punch of rich sugar and spice. Burnt sugar; clove; cinnamon spice; pepper; the Camp Nelson “prickle”; warm pecan pie; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup; peanut brittle; ginger; herbal; leather. (4/5)
Finish: Very long. Loads of caramel; bold pecan pie; ginger; leather. (4/5)
Overall: Rich, complex, and a pour that changes in the glass. This brings a full Camp Nelson experience, but in a really well blended/balanced way. A good transition from a classic turkey profile with the Camp Nelson profile. (4/5)
Value: $45-$50 for 375 (or the equivalent of $90-$100 for a regular sized bottle) feels right. It feels a bit better than even some of the Master Keep releases. (3.5/5)
“This brings a full Camp Nelson experience, but in a really well blended/balanced way.”
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.