Rare Breed is one of four super-premium bourbons currently in standard production at Wild Turkey Distillery – the other three being Russell’s Reserve Single BarrelRussell’s Reserve 10-year, and Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit. Each of these four super-premium offerings have something unique on paper and in taste profile, though Rare Breed is the only barrel-proof bourbon of the bunch. That said, there’s no age statement or barrel information (batch size, maturation locations, etc.), just an elegantly worded label which reads:

The spirit of Wild Turkey has been captured in this barrel proof whiskey to create the finest of bourbon pleasures. Hand-crafted and uncut with water, Rare Breed is truly a legendary treasure to savor.

Among all of Wild Turkey’s whiskeys, I believe Rare Breed is the one suffering from the greatest fog of uncertainty. First, what is it? The story goes it’s a blend of six-, eight-, and twelve-year straight bourbons. Well, if it’s not on the label, that can’t be guaranteed. Second, if it’s uncut with water as the label states, then how for roughly a decade (batch WT-03RB ran from 2004 to 2013) has the total barrel proof for the batch (which could be dozens, or dozens of dozens of barrels) always equaled 108.2?

Let’s say you kept adding the necessary strength barrels to make the math work for each batch/bottling. Would you not be sacrificing profile in exchange for numbers? I’m not trying to be flippant. I just think Rare Breed is a Wild Turkey product in need of an overhaul (and unfortunately, that didn’t happen with the latest release, Rare Breed 112.8).  Sigh.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed – batch WT-03RB (2011) – 108.2 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: dark amber

Nose: (hints of maturity) caramel, vanilla, honey, pastry dough, musty oak, clove, leather, vegetal notes

Taste: (drinks its proof) rich vanilla, toffee, honey, brown sugar, bitter/dry oak, old leather, baking spice

Finish: (quite spicy) medium-long w/ pleasant warmth – chewy vanilla, musty oak, waves of toffee

Overall: I know it seemed my review was headed in a critical direction; but, while I think this product line could be better in so many ways, Rare Breed batch WT-03RB is a very good whiskey. And I should probably be more specific here – WT-03RB is to date the last of the good Rare Breed batches. At least WT-03RB has a profile that reflects a six-, eight-, and twelve-year old blend. It has the honey, spice, and leather reminiscent of an export 12-year Wild Turkey 101 from the same time period (mid/late 2000s). It also displays a fair amount of vanilla and toffee that I’d associate with a six/eight-year Wild Turkey 101, as well as a similar mouthfeel.

As for the negatives, the only thing I find less appealing about this Rare Breed batch is a sharp bitterness – primarily on the palate. Going back to the nose, it’s more clove-like in nature – inviting even. When tasting, however, the bitterness really makes itself known and becomes somewhat distracting. While it certainly doesn’t ruin the whiskey, it creates notable imbalance.

All said and done, Wild Turkey Rare Breed batch WT-03RB is a thoroughly enjoyable barrel-proof bourbon … if purchased at retail price.

Rating:  3.5/5 🦃