Dammit, Wild Turkey … you can do better than this. You should do better than this. You have done better than this. While I realize I’m setting the tone for this review rather early, it’s important that you, the reader and fellow enthusiast, understand my frustration with modern Wild Turkey here in the year 2017.
As I’ve stated many times before, recent releases of Wild Turkey 101 aren’t as complex, nor seem premium in any way when compared to the past few decades. I’m not thrilled about it, but I accept it and understand that Wild Turkey 101 was never meant to be that type of bourbon. Wild Turkey 101 is typically marketed to the common man/woman as a quality everyday whiskey. It’s not as tasty or unique as it has been in the past, but it remains a solid pour. That said, when you’re paying $45 for a super-premium release from one of the country’s most reputable distilleries and it tastes about as good as their flagship standard shelf whiskey, you should be scratching your head. In regard to this most recent release of Rare Breed … I’m scratching my head, tapping my foot, and apologizing to my wallet.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed (2015) – 112.8-proof KSBW – reportedly a blend of six-, eight-, and twelve-year bourbon – bottled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY
Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …
Color: amber, honey
Nose: vanilla, roasted almonds, toffee, baking spice, slight grain, sweet corn, sharp & funky oak
Taste: (rather thin mouthfeel) vanilla extract, nuts, grain, Werther’s Original candy, funky wet oak, polished leather
Finish: medium (shorter than expected for the proof and assumed maturity), notable warmth (more on the mouth/throat rather than the chest), sharp vanilla, fading baking spice
Overall: Well that’s disappointing. Not that it’s bad whiskey – not at all. But I’ll be completely honest when saying that it’s nothing particularly better than Wild Turkey 101. In some ways it reminds me of a higher proof Russell’s Reserve 10-year (likely because of the supposed older whiskey in Rare Breed’s blend), yet there’s still some younger grain notes pushing it closer in profile to modern Wild Turkey 101.
As for a twelve-year bourbon in the blend … I’m not tasting that influence at all. I’ve tasted it in the prior Rare Breed release, batch WT-03RB, but not one bit in 112.8. I’ve even poured a 2000’s Wild Turkey 101 12-year export to compare to WT-03RB side-by-side, and they have some common notes. Rare Breed 112.8 has nothing in common with Wild Turkey 101 12-year. Nothing.
I suppose the bottom line is this: If you want to spend $45 on Wild Turkey, buy Kentucky Spirit or Wild Turkey 101 and lunch. That, or invest ten dollars more and buy Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon. Cheers!
Rating: 2.5/5 🦃