It’s a Friday night. I’m minding my own business working on another Wild Turkey review, when I get a message from one of my whiskey associates. Out of the blue, he tells me he has two mystery Turkey samples to send me and that he’d like my honest opinion of them. Sure – why not? I mean, it will take at least a day or two for him to bottle them up, then pack and mail them, and then the delivery time … whatever I’ve got going on in my life, these samples won’t factor in for at least a week or so, right?

So from our discussion Friday night to mid-day Monday, the samples are already sitting at my doorstep (from Pacific to Atlantic). Apparently, the delivery service has hired either Montgomery Scott or Barry Allen. Anyhow, I start getting messages from the sender – “Hey man, did you get the samples?” “Hey man, online tracking shows you got the samples.” “Hey man, how are the samples?” Okay, okay. It’s like lunchtime and I’m at work. As much as I’d love to drive home, grab the mail, get back to the office and tear into those samples, it’s not 1965. I can’t just walk down the hall to Mr. Draper’s office and ask to borrow a couple tumblers (they didn’t have Glencairns back then, smartypants reader). Whiskey is important – no doubt about it – but please let me at least start getting a little whisker-rough showing before I have my first pour of the day. I mean, it’s not like I’m obsessed wth Wild Turkey or anything. Geez. 😉

So I finish up at work and head straight home. Time to unbox! I grab the scissors – and is it just me, or are those express boxes designed to lock in apocalyptic demons for a millennium? Anyhow, after a near flesh wound or two later, the samples are free! [queue angelic voices] Before me are two Boston Rounds labeled “WT Mystery A” and “WT Mystery B.” These could be any Wild Turkey whiskey. Bourbon, rye, single barrel, batched, dusty, modern, NAS, etc. No clue. Hell, they could even be some Jim Murray yellow-eyed mad scientist blend. Well, only one way to know … time for a tasting!

Wild Turkey Mystery Sample “A”

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: deep copper

Nose: (robust dusty WT) vanilla, butterscotch, sweet musty & funky oak, honey maple, intense herbal & floral notes, tobacco, leather, Granny’s spice cabinet

Taste: (oily & complex) sweet & spicy vanilla, funky charred oak, rich & thick molasses, fragrant herbal & floral notes, old leather, fancy pipe tobacco, blood orange, complex spice

Finish: (near perfect) long, warm, & wonderfully flavorful – HUGE herbal & floral notes, rich “buttery” vanilla, funky sweet oak, slowly fading spice

Overall & Guess: This is without a doubt dusty and mature Wild Turkey KSBW. While Glut Era Wild Turkey 101/8 expressions have older whiskey in them, I’m pretty confident this is either late 1980’s Beyond Duplication or early 1990’s “Cheesy Gold Foil.” In fact, this may be the best WT 101/12 I’ve ever had (yes, that good). It’s everything you’d want in dusty Wild Turkey.

Rating:  5/5 🦃

Wild Turkey Mystery Sample “B”

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: deep rosy copper (slightly darker than Sample A)

Nose: (signature dusty WT) honey-maple, vanilla, musty oak, brown sugar, herbal & floral notes, tobacco & leather, clove, faint citrus

Taste: (reminiscent of the nose) vanilla, honey-maple, sweet musty oak, herbal & floral notes, brown sugar, tobacco & leather, baking spice, hints of deep citrus (blood orange)

Finish: long, warm & tasty – spicy vanilla, sweet oak, fading herbal & floral spice

Overall: Excellent, but not as excellent nor as memorable as Sample A. Still, there are some nice dusty notes and it tastes like a mature WT KSBW. This reminds me heavily of late 1990’s Split Label 101/12 and/or early 2000’s export 101/12. So that’s my guess on this one. A high quality pour for sure, but it’s certainly a half-notch below Sample A.

Rating:  4.5/5 🦃

Reveal & Summary: [drum roll …] Okay, so not a surprise and yet a big surprise at the same time.

Sample A: 1990 Cheesy Gold Foil 101/12

Sample B: 1991 Cheesy Gold Foil 101/12

How about that? There’s a lesson here. Not all Cheesy Gold Foil Wild Turkey 101/12’s are created equal. In fact, when Jimmy Russell said CGF and Split Label 101/12’s are the same exact bourbon, he’s likely telling the truth. Maybe it’s just that some batches are inexplicably better than others (better barrels from better seasons, or from better rickhouses, or whatever). It might just be that simple. Anyone paying or trading top-dollar for CGF bottles nowadays may be in for quite a shock when/if they compare to Split Label or even “Pseudo-Split” Label export bottles of WT 101 12-year.

In closing, I want to thank my fellow Turkey fan for making this happen (you know who you are). Not only did I get to sip some fabulous bourbon whiskey, I got a little education out of it in the process. It’s bourbon wisdom we can all share. The more you know. …:::*