I recently decided to pull the trigger and buy a bottle – a fancy box and bottle – of Wild Turkey Master’s Keep. Personally, I think this limited edition is suffering from “shelf turd syndrome” as a result of its predecessor, Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary. Diamond Anniversary (2014) didn’t sit well with some bourbon enthusiasts. Factor in its $125 price, and, well, it can still be found in retail stores around town (at least in my hometown).
Last year brought Master’s Keep, with an even higher limited-edition price tag of $150. I think many bourbon enthusiasts decided to save their money for harder targets (Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Pappy Van Winkle, and the lot) or simply avoided limited editions altogether. As for the loyal Wild Turkey customer base, I’ve found that many aren’t bourbon enthusiasts at all. They’re just average working Janes and Joes dedicated to the distillery’s core expressions (primarily Wild Turkey 101). I can understand why a limited edition whiskey that costs several times more than a handle of one’s personal favorite sipping bourbon may not be appealing.
Alright, I should probably move on to the actual review. I dusted off the box top, opened it up (it’s actually a very nice box and bottle design), and popped the fancy copper cork stopper (again, very nice presentation). Let’s pour!
Wild Turkey Master’s Keep – reported mash bill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley – 86.8 proof – aged 17 years in multiple rickhouses & floors – batch 0001, bottle 16914
Tasted neat in a Canadian Glencairn …
Color: rose copper
Nose: (quite complex) caramel, musty sweet oak, toffee candy, cookie dough, buttered corn, molasses
Taste: (very nice strength for 86.8 proof) sweet oak, rye spice, vanilla extract, toffee, subtle “Wild Turkey funk”
Finish: medium – lingering spice & sweet oak (diminishes quite nicely)
Overall: A unique and special Wild Turkey release – the first, I believe, to be credited solely to Eddie Russell instead of his legendary father, Jimmy. While the nose is surely the highlight, the taste is a nice change of pace for typical Wild Turkey bourbon (and the lower proof is absolutely not an issue for me). The finish maintains perfect balance with the taste, but neither quite steps it up to the level of the nose. Not that I would call Master’s Keep unbalanced. It’s very much what I’d expect a seventeen-year-old Wild Turkey bourbon to taste like.
In closing, Master’s Keep is excellent and certainly worthy of a special limited edition. As for the price/quality value … Well, we can argue prices all day (for this and plenty of other whiskeys). As for this old and special bourbon, it’s remarkably delicious!
Rating: 4/5 🦃