For the second straight 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.  

The Wild Turkey brand’s Rye  dates back to the 1950’s. In the early days, the Rye (like the bourbon) was sourced, initially from Maryland sources, then later from Pennsylvania sources , along with  Illinois. This continued through the late 1970’s. In 1974, Wild Turkey moved distillation of rye to Kentucky. From the late 1970’s and on, the Wild Turkey Ryes we enjoy should be directly produced by Wild Turkey using the current 51% rye, 37% corn, 12% barley mash bill. 

Wild Turkey Rye 101 (2017)

Wild Turkey Rye 101 (2015)

Wild Turkey “Christmas Rye” 101 (1995)

This is our second look at Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit.  Read more about this history, and the origins of the Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit product in Chapter 2.

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit was launched in around 1995 and is Wild Turkey’s first single barrel offering.  It is believed to be the second single barrel offering in the bourbon industry, after Blanton’s, which launched the single-barrel revolution in 1984.

Kentucky Spirit was released at 101 proof, effectively making it a single barrel offering of the Wild Turkey 101 – save age and barrel selection.

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Sturgis Liquor Pick

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Midtown Wine & Spirits Pick

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Oklahoma Bourbon Lovers Pick

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Wine and Cheese Place Pick

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – “Pewter Top” (1995)

Last year, we reviewed Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades.  Like many of Wild Turkey products, last year’s Decades contained a batch number (Batch No. 0001).  Surprisingly, Wild Turkey released a Batch No. 0002, and we picked one up for a head-to-head comparison.  

Recall Master’s Keep Decades is a blend of 10 and 20 year barrels (hence, “decades”).  Since one review alone doesn’t warrant a Chapter, we decided to bring within this Chapter a review of a one-decade-old Wild Turkey – The Single Cask Nation 10 Year Wild Turkey release.

Single Cask Nation – 10 Year (Cask 16-313)

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades Batch No. 0002

In this Chapter 12, we move on to “Classic 101’s.” What do we mean?  Well, Wild Turkey has produced some glorious bourbons over the years, many of which have been released at the traditional 101 proof.   

We selected five different 101’s to acquire and sample for Wild Turkey Month 2018.  Although these are all heavy hitters, we feared we might be predisposed to wanting to love certain bottles. To alleviate that risk, we elected to sample the five bottles blind.   We post these reviews in no particular order.

Wild Turkey 12 Year “Cheesy Gold Foil” (1992)

Wild Turkey 101 (1999)

Wild Turkey Kentucky Legend (1992)

Wild Turkey 101 8 Year (1987)

Wild Turkey 12-Year “Split Label” (1993)

In this last chapter of Wild Turkey Month 2018, we focus on Wild Turkey 8 Year 101’s from the 1970’s. What makes this grouping unique is that each of the bourbons were bottled in ceramic decanters.

Inside these decanters is 101 proof bourbon, aged at least 8 years.  But where it was produced is 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. 

The more interesting story here is the decanters themselves.  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.

There is a known risk with these decanters as the glazing on these ceramic decanters contained lead.  It is not certain (decanter to decanter) whether the decanter contaminated the whiskey within. We encourage everyone to gauge the risk accordingly. 

Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1975 Decanter

Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1976 Decanter

Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1977 Decanter

Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1978 Decanter

Wild Turkey is a Lawrenceburg, Kentucky distillery owned by the Campari Group.  It continues to operate as the “Austin Nichols” division, after being formerly owned by the Austin Nichols company during the 1970’s.  It has changed hands several times since its inception as the Old Ripy Distillery in the 1890’s.  

The name “Wild Turkey” originates from in the 1940’s.  Austin Nichols was a liquor distributor.  One of its executives served friends some whiskey produced by the Old Ripy distillery during a turkey hunt.  The friends started calling it the “wild turkey” and the Austin Nichols company then started marketing the product.  That company would buy the distillery years later.

Jimmy Russell, a 60 year veteran at Wild Turkey, and his son, Eddie Russell, are the company’s co-master distillers.

Today, Wild Turkey produces whiskey under the Wild Turkey name, along with the Russell’s Reserve name.

American Spirit

Bond & Lillard

Diamond Anniversary

Forgiven

Kentucky Legend (“Donut”)

Kentucky Legend (1992)

Kentucky Spirit

Kentucky Spirit (2)

Kentucky Spirit – Belmont Beverage Pick

Kentucky Spirit – Lukas Liquor Super Store Pick

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Oklahomans for Oklahomans

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Sturgis Liquor Pick

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Midtown Wine & Spirits Pick

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Oklahoma Bourbon Lovers Pick

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Wine and Cheese Place Pick

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – “Pewter Top” (1995)

Longbranch

Master’s Keep Decades Batch 0001 (2

Master’s Keep Decades Batch 0002

Master’s Keep 17

Master’s Keep Revival

Old Ripy

Rare Breed

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Batch W-T-01-99

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Batch WT 03RB – Dark Wrap Review

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Batch WT-03RB – Clear Wrap Review

Wild Turkey Rare Breed 112.8 Review

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Batch 116.8

Russell’s Reserve Rye 6 Year (2007)

Russell’s Reserve Rye 6 Year (2016)

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye (2017)

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye – Distillery Pick

Russell’s Reserve 10 Year (2007)

Russell’s Reserve 10 Year (2015)

Russell’s Reserve Singe Barrel

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel (2) (3)

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Belmont Store Pick

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Bourbon Balls Review

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Jacob’s Store Pick

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – R&J Store Pick (2)

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Spec’s Pick

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – “Freedom Ain’t Free”

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Longman & Eagle Pick

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel (2013)

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – “Eddie’s Secret Stash

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – “Angel’s Share”

Russell’s Reserve 2002 

Single Cask Nation – 9 Year (Cask #536)

Single Cask Nation – 9 Year (Cask 1075)

Single Cask Nation – 10 Year (Cask 16-313)

Wild Turkey 80

Wild Turkey 81 (2)

Wild Turkey 12 Year 101 – “Cheesy Gold Foil” (1992)

Wild Turkey “Split Label” 12 Year (1993)

Wild Turkey 13 year (2014)

Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 101 (8 Year Export)

Wild Turkey 101 – 8 Year (1987)

Wild Turkey 101 (Austin Nichols 2006)

Wild Turkey 101 (1999)

Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1975 Decanter

Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1976 Decanter

Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1977 Decanter

Wild Turkey 101 8 Year – 1978 Decanter

Wild Turkey 101 Rye

Wild Turkey 101 Rye (2017)

Wild Turkey 101 Rye (2015)

Wild Turkey 101 “Christmas Rye” 1995

Over the month of November 2017, 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.  

Distillation at or near the current Wild Turkey distillery site began as early as the 1850’s.  Its history traces through names like Old Moore, Thomas B. Ripy and Austin, Nichols.  It is now owned by Campari , and operated as The Wild Turkey Distilling Co., a division of Campari Group. 

Read more about this history, and the origins of the “Wild Turkey” name in Chapter 1.  

Wild Turkey 80 Review

Wild Turkey 81 Review

Wild Turkey 101 (2006) Review

Wild Turkey 101 Review

Wild Turkey 101 (8 Year Export) Review 

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit was launched in around 1995 and is Wild Turkey’s first single barrel offering.  It is believed to be the second single barrel offering in the bourbon industry, after Blanton’s, which launched the single-barrel revolution in 1984.

Kentucky Spirit was released at 101 proof, effectively making it a single barrel offering of the Wild Turkey 101 – save age and barrel selection.

Read more about this history, and the origins of the Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit product in Chapter 2.

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Review

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Belmont Beverage Pick Review

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Lukas Liquor Super Store Review

Wild  Turkey Kentucky Spirit – Oklahomans for Oklahomans Review

See More in Chapter 9, as we revisit Kentucky Spirit in year two of Wild Turkey Month.

In this Chapter 3, we introduce Wild Turkey’s first non-Turkey branded products in modern years – the Whiskey Barons Collection and the  “reproductions” of Old Ripy and Bond & Lillard bourbons. 

In Chapter 1 we talked about the link of the Old Ripy (and now the Bond & Lillard products) to modern day Wild Turkey.  This link, as you will read in this Chapter 3, may be as much play-on-names as it is lineage to historic products.

Old Ripy Review

Bond & Lillard Review

In 1991, Wild Turkey introduced their first barrel strength bourbon, the Wild Turkey Rare Breed (the first release being batch W-T-01-91).

Rare Breed is a batched barrel strength bourbon – not a single barrel, but instead multiple barrels blended together to reach an ultimate “barrel proof” of the entire batch.  

While the nature of each batch is not known, the history of Rare Breed acts as in important study into Wild Turkey Distillery’s history of increasing barrel entry proofs. 

Read more about Rare Breed and barrel entry proofs in this Chapter 4.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Batch RB W-T-01-99 Review

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Batch WT 03RB – Dark Wrap Review

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Batch WT 03RB – Clear Wrap Review

Wild Turkey Rare Breed 112.8 Review

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Batch 116.8

No history of Wild Turkey would be complete without the stories of Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie Russell, present day co-Master Distillers.

Jimmy Russell has now been part of Wild Turkey for over 60 years, beginning as in 1954.  He now holds the title of being the longest-tenured active master distiller in the world. 

Jimmy’s son, Eddie Russell, started with the company in 1981, only being promoted to Co-Master Distiller in 2015.

Together, the Russell’s launched Russell’s Reserve in 2001.   It was a 101 proof, 10 year bourbon, named in honor of Jimmy Russell.  It has more recently been reduced to 90 proof.

In around 2012, the Russell’s Reserve brand would be expanded to include a non-age stated, 110 proof single barrel bourbon called Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel.  It is non-chill filtered.  

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel (2013) Review 

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Belmont Store Pick Review

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel (2016) Review

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – R&J Store Pick Review

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Jacob’s Store Pick Review

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Bourbon Balls Review

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – Spec’s Pick Review

Russell’s Reserve 10 Year (2007)

Russell’s Reserve 10 Year (2015) Review

For more reviews of Russell’s Reserve, check out Chapter 10 in our 2018 Wild Turkey Month.

In this Chapter 6, we bring you the finest Wild Turkey products that we have acquired over the past few years.  Each product has its own unique backstory.  Check out each below.

Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary Review

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades Review

Wild Turkey American Spirit Review

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep 17 Review

Wild Turkey Kentucky Legend (“Donut”) Review

We hope you have enjoyed Wild Turkey Month – 30 Turkeys and 30 Days as much as we have.   

Each chapter featured a different segment of Wild Turkey’s market.  We attempted to bring you a solid sampling of Wild Turkey’s offerings in each of those segments.  Often, that included multiple variations of the same products, such as single barrels from different warehouses and different warehouse floors.  Other times that included identical products produced more than a decade apart.

We learned much along the way.  Here are our five takeaways from the past 30 days.