There’s something to be said for simplicity. Not that a good whiskey should always be simple, it just doesn’t have to be complex to be good. And that’s how I feel about Wild Turkey 101 Rye in a nutshell. It’s simple and it’s good.

Now both simple and good are without a doubt subjective words. So what do I mean exactly? It’s like this … Wild Turkey 101 Rye is a fantastic sipper when you’re looking for a whiskey that’s neither too spicy, nor too sweet, but just enough of both to keep you wanting more. There are some whiskeys out there that attempt to accomplish this through dilution – 101 Rye is not one of them (at least the bottles I’ve had). You get full flavor without being overwhelmed by often dominating herbal rye notes or rich bourbon-like vanilla and toffee.

As a personal side note, it’s probably my favorite Christmas whiskey. It’s great when decorating the tree, eating fresh-baked treats, and listening to classic Christmas carols on a chilly winter’s night. I think for me, a lot of this preference may be that Christmas scents and foods tend to be very rich, complex, and demand the attention of your senses. Wild Turkey 101 Rye’s strengths are its simplicity and balance between spicy and sweet, so your whiskey isn’t competing with your tree, candles, meals, or desserts. But enough of the rambling – on to the tasting!


Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (2011) – (reportedly) 51% rye, 37% corn, 12% barley – 101 proof – no age statement (rumor is 4-5 years) – bottled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: citrine

Nose: light vanilla, lemon cookies, fresh bread, hints of musty/funky oak, light mint

Taste: vanilla, lemon-lime soda, light musty oak, baked goods (lemon squares, sugar cookies, rice crispy treats), slight floral & minty spice

Finish: medium in duration, easy warmth, vanilla, simple syrup, fading citrus with waves of light baking spice

Overall: If you’re looking for a light and easy whiskey with decent proof and full flavor, I highly recommend Wild Turkey 101 Rye. It’s an easy sipper, pairs well with food, and has enough uniqueness to set it apart from other “barely legal” Kentucky straight rye whiskeys in its price tier. As for other Wild Turkey rye expressions, the next step up would likely be Russell’s Reserve 6-year Rye, or even better, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye. Somewhat different whiskeys, though. As for this great little rye sipper, I’m giving it a B-.