Wild Turkey Month: Day 58 (Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1976 Decanter)

Chapter 13, Part 2: 

Today we continue our last chapter of Wild Turkey Month 2018. This chapter focuses on Wild Turkey 8 Year 101’s from the 1970’s.  While many of these fit into the “Classic 101’s” profile from the last chapter, what makes this grouping unique is that each of the bourbons were bottled in ceramic decanters.

Over these last four days of November 2018, we will bring you reviews of each of these bourbons – 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978.  We review these in chronological order.  For a background on these decanters, including a discussion of the lead risks associated with each, we invite you to read the review of the 1975 Wild Turkey 101 8 Year.

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30 Days of Wild Turkey: Day 57 (Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1975 Decanter)

Chapter 13, Part 1: 

Today we move on to our last chapter of Wild Turkey Month 2018. This chapter could easily fit in the previous chapter, in which we reviewed “Classic 101’s.” This chapter focuses on Wild Turkey 8 Year 101’s from the 1970’s. But what makes this grouping unique is that each of the bourbons were bottled in ceramic decanters.

Before we discuss those decanters, let us first address what is inside.   We know the bourbon to be at least 8 years old, although it is well believed that Wild Turkey was putting whiskeys in these blends that were much older than 8 years old.

Where it is produced is even more of a mystery. Austin Nichols purchased the Boulevard Distillery in 1971. That was their first distillery “home.” Prior to that, Austin Nichols sourced. A known source was this same Boulevard Distillery, so there is a chance much of the whiskey in these blends was produced at this distillery. But there is certainly a chance it was produced elsewhere. We have no definitive answer on this question.

The more interesting story here is the decanters themselves, however.  In 1971, Wild Turkey released its first series of decanters. This series ran for 8 years, from 1971 through 1978. Each of the bottles featured a wild turkey in various poses. Each was numbered with its year of release.

In 2011, a thread began on straightbourbon.com addressing Leaching of Lead into Whiskey from Ceramic Decanter Glazing.  The thread continues to see comments and questions today. The issue addressed is whether the glazing on these ceramic decanters contained lead, and then whether it contaminated the whiskey within. We won’t attempt to summarize the discussion and “findings” contained therein, and we won’t provide any advice. Suffice it to say that there is a known “risk” that there is lead in these bourbons, and we encourage everyone to gauge the risk accordingly. Our approach has been to sample in very light moderation, and not to return to these bottles but once or twice per year.

There is a market reaction to the above risk, and possibly other risks of these decanters as well. The containers are (obviously) not clear, so you cannot gauge the volume of liquid and its clarity. Many attempt to weigh the decanters versus known weights of full decanters to determine fill level (and, with hope, clarity, as emptier decanters often are cloudy). These risks result in prices on these bottles that is 1/3 to 1/4 of the price for high fill level, clear bourbon in a glass bottle, over the same span of time. We are unaware of any other differences in the glass bottle versus ceramic decanter bourbons, both of which are 8 year age stated, 101 proof Wild Turkey bourbons.

Over these next four days, we will bring you reviews of each of these bourbons – 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978.  We review these in chronological order.

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30 Days of Wild Turkey: Day 56 (Wild Turkey Kentucky Legend – 1992)

Chapter 12, Part 5: 

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 original Kentucky Legend. Last year we reviewed a Kentucky Legend, but it was the later edition in a round, nearly hollowed center bottle commonly known as “Donut.”  “Donut” is a barrel proof, single barrel product, whereas this original Kentucky Legend was a 101 proof batched product.  Kentucky Legend would also be released internationally as a 110 proof bottling.

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Wild Turkey Month: Day 55 (Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1987)

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.

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30 Days of Wild Turkey: Day 54 (Wild Turkey 101 “Split Label” – 1993)

Chapter 12, Part 3: 

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.

This “Split Label” is the third in a series of Wild Turkey 12 Year iterations.  The “series” began in the early 1980’s with “Beyond Duplication,” a bottle we hope to review in the future.  It was replaced with the “Cheesy Gold Foil” label bottle that we reviewed on Thanksgiving day.  “Cheesy Gold Foil” was replaced after the 1992 (the year we just reviewed) with the 1993 “Split Label” (the year we review today).

Essentially, not much should be different between the 1992 Cheesy Gold Foil and the 1993 Split Label, other than the obvious year of production and the label.  Our blind tasting might help support or dispel that theory.  We sampled this bottle last in our blind tasting.

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