Cheesy Gold Foil … Pewter Top … Split Label … Donut … these are the names of legends. To the average person, gibberish I’m sure. But to the wise and weathered whiskey enthusiast these words stimulate the senses, stir emotions, and for the converted, invoke memories of grandeur. Today’s Wild Turkey stands on the shoulders of these giants, and the way it’s looking they’re not making many more of them.
Wild Turkey Kentucky Legend, known simply as “Donut” amongst whiskey enthusiasts due to its unique bottle design, was a late 1990’s Wild Turkey special release. It remains one of the few true barrel-proof single barrel bourbons offered by Wild Turkey over the last several decades (as Kentucky Spirit is bottled at 101 proof and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is bottled at 110 proof). Originally sold in a decorative box, each donut-shaped bottle is labeled around the neck with individual barrel details. The reverse of the bottle reads:
Since the Wild Turkey distillery opened in 1855, privileged visitors have been given the rare opportunity of tasting our oldest and finest bourbon straight from the barrel. The creation of Kentucky Legend extends this tradition to a wider group of connoisseurs. This whiskey has been decanted from one specially selected barrel, filtered and hand bottled under my personal supervision at its original strength. The barrel has imparted its own subtly different flavor resulting in a unique hand made Kentucky Bourbon. True legends are rare indeed. – Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller
Needless to say, I’m very excited to have the opportunity to sample this highly sought-after Wild Turkey bourbon whiskey. Time for a pour!
Wild Turkey Kentucky Legend (AKA “Donut”) – NAS 114.6 proof KSBW – barrel D8-15, bottle #53 – bottled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Company, Lawrenceburg, KY
Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …
Color: deep rosy-copper
Nose: (very complex) rich caramel, vanilla bean, maple, honey, musty oak, blood orange, tobacco, antique leather, baking spice (cinnamon, clove, ginger), hints of floral perfume
Taste: (wow – nearly speechless) BIG toasted vanilla, sweet musty oak, thick maple syrup, fragrant tobacco, intense spicy herbal/floral notes, honey, ripe citrus, leather
Finish: long & robust, chest-warming, sweet vanilla, oak, caramel, slowly fading spice
With a little water added: Tends to mute the best of its character and becomes more like a classic, yet average Wild Turkey 101 8-year. I’m not saying that classic WT 101/8 is an average whiskey, I’m just saying that Donut is a bourbon that truly shines at barrel proof. Dilution is not recommended.
Overall: Impressive! Whatever filtration this whiskey experienced, it must’ve been minimal. This is one helluva complex bourbon – particularly on the nose. If given a decent length of time (resisting the temptation to taste, which would be ridiculously challenging) one could write a novella of notes relative to the nose alone. By the time you sip, you’re on such a high from scent overload that the huge vanilla/oak and intense spice nearly takes you by surprise (I was literally speechless … all I could say was “mmm, mmm” and eventually expletives of sheer joy). The finish is everything you’d expect – long, warm, and full of timeless Wild Turkey flavor. True legends are rare indeed – damn right, Jimmy. Grading this one is easy … A all day.