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.
So as I’ve stated so 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 WT 101 was never meant to be that kind of pour. WT 101 was always marketed to the common man/woman as a quality everyday whiskey. While not as tasty or unique as in the past, it’s still a quality pour today. But when you’re paying $45 for a “super-premium” bottle 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. And in regards 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 WT bourbon – bottled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Company, 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 supposed age blend), 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 WT 101. In some ways in reminds me of a higher proof Russell’s Reserve 10-year small batch (probably because of the supposed older whiskey in the Rare Breed blend), but there’s still some younger grain notes that puts it closer in profile to modern WT 101. As for a 12-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 this one. I’ve even poured a 2000’s 12-year WT 101 export to compare to WT-03RB side-by-side, and they have some common notes. Rare Breed 112.8 has nothing in common with WT 101 12-year … nothing. I guess the bottom line is, if you want to spend $45 on Wild Turkey, buy Kentucky Spirit or 101 and lunch. That, or invest ten dollars more and buy Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel. As for this release of Rare Breed … C+.