Wild Turkey 101 has an extremely loyal fanbase. It seems nearly every time I’m at my local bottle shop, I see at least one person grab a handle of Wild Turkey 101. Seems that way, at least. But today’s Wild Turkey 101 is not like yesterday’s … not at all. And it’s not just an age statement that’s missing. The profile, while somewhat similar, is in many ways entirely different. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but for those that have experienced both older and newer Wild Turkey bourbon, it surely makes sense. (Spoiler: I wish I had 101 bottles of this stuff.)

Wild Turkey 101 (1981) – aged 8 years – 50.5% ABV – distilled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: appears a much deeper copper than modern 101

Nose: thick vanilla, spicy tobacco, molasses, sweet rolls with homemade icing, funky oak, faint citrus, herbal/floral notes

Taste: (intensely complex, “punchy” & rich) clove tobacco, rye/baking spice, cinnamon bread, antique oak, vanilla, leather, essential oils (similar to musky perfume)

Finish: long/med-long (similar to modern 101 in length but more delicate), very pronounced sweet & spicy waves of wonderfulness, hints of tobacco & leather

Overall: I really, really love this bourbon. This is legendary whiskey nowadays, and thanks to this sample, I know why. I’m searching for a bottle myself (the profile is that unique). Is it life-changing or “best whiskey ever?” No, but it’s damn delicious. Such a shame you can’t find this on a retail shelf any longer.

Rating:  5/5 🦃