Let’s get one thing out of the way before we start in on Wild Turkey Longbranch – “Alright, alright, alright.”
Yes, Matthew McConaughey is instinctively linked to this quote and the persona portrayed in the 1993 comedy “Dazed and Confused.” Yes, McConaughey has become likewise instinctively linked to products in which he endorses – recently, Lincoln cars, and a decade ago, Dolce & Gabbana. And yes, McConaughey is one of the growing number of celebrities now linked to the booming bourbon market.
In 2016, Wild Turkey hired on McConaughey as its creative director. It did so in a very Hollywood fashion: it released a short film stating McConaughey:
McConaughey says therein that he didn’t want to be just the spokesperson for the Wild Turkey story, but that he wanted to be a part of the story.
In April, 2018, Wild Turkey launched Wild Turkey Longbranch, a collaboration between McConaughey and Master Distiller Eddie Russell.
Longbranch begins with standard Wild Turkey bourbon. That bourbon uses 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% barley. Mathematically (or Mathew-matically), Wild Turkey distilled this spirit and placed these barrels long before McConaughey joined the Wild Turkey team.
Longbranch is a non-age stated bourbon. However, the press release for “Batch 1” indicates that Longbranch is “made with eight-year old Wild Turkey Bourbon.” This language does not say unequivocally that Longbranch is made with “only” 8 year bourbon, or “at least” 8 year bourbon, nor does it say that future releases will be of equal age.
Most notably, Longbranch is a mesquite charcoal filtered bourbon. Wild Turkey calls it a “proprietary process that combines two separate charcoal filtration methods to give Longbranch a smooth and full finish. The first of the filtration process uses charcoal made from American White Oak and the second uses charcoal made from Texas Mesquite wood, giving the bourbon notes of smoky sweetness.”
Finally, no other name has been on a Wild Turkey bottle other than the signature of a Russell until now. This bottle bares the signatures of Eddie Russel and McConaughey. We won’t speculate on the omission of Jimmy Russell from this bottling.
Wild Turkey Longbranch (86 Proof) (NAS)
Nose: Toffee; nutmeg; vanilla; honeycomb; dry oak; orange peel; light melon. Soft and mellow. Not complex but not absent. No pepper spice and no noticeable smells of the charcoal filtration. Welcoming. (3/5)
Palate: Vanilla; flamed orange and light citrus; toffee; brown sugar; honey; salted caramel; lightly drying oak. Balanced. (3/5)
Finish: Medium. Orange; salted caramel; toffee; faint smoke dryness on the tail end. Again, not complex, and doesn’t introduce much new either. (2.5/5)
Overall: Mellow, but with discernible and enjoyable underlying flavors throughout not too far off base for a Wild Turkey product, except for a lack of pepper spice. Wild Turkey Longbranch is nice lower proof bourbon for someone new to bourbon, with nice charcoal-mellowed flavors for someone who might be transitioning from a Tennessee whiskey. (3/5)
Value: We picked this up locally for around $37. With everything else comparable on the market, including some other great Wild Turkey products, this leaves us feeling a bit less than satisfied. (2.5/5)
“Wild Turkey Longbranch is nice lower proof bourbon for someone new to bourbon, with nice charcoal-mellowed flavors for someone who might be transitioning from a Tennessee whiskey.”
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.