Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey you’ll find Bayway World of Liquors. Okay, maybe not in the swamps, but around the swamps of Jersey. Okay, okay – maybe not around the swamps, but surely in the Garden State (Elizabeth, NJ to be precise). As a Springsteen fan that doesn’t get to review many New Jersey based Wild Turkey private selections, this may be my only chance to use that line, alright? Moving on …

While I’ve reviewed a fair number of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel private selections, I’ve yet to formally review a Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit private selection. It’s not intentional. I’ve written a good many Kentucky Spirit reviews in the last few months – I just rarely see WTKS private selections (and never a single one locally). But thanks to my favorite whiskey enthusiast community, I now have the opportunity. So without further ado, let’s see how this whiskey sips.

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – selected by Bayway World of Liquors, Elizabeth, NJ – 101 proof KSBW – no age stated (rumored at least eight years) – bottled 7/13/2016 from barrel #288, warehouse H, rick #5 – distilled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Company, Lawrenceburg, KY

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: deep amber

Nose: classic vanilla, toffee, caramel, musty oak, baking spice (cinnamon, clove), faint citrus & cream cheese icing

Taste: spicy vanilla, toffee, herbal tea, musty oak, “crisp” citrus, baking spice

Finish: long, spicy & sweet – vanilla, cinnamon, sweet oak, caramel & toffee

Overall: As far as modern Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit is concerned, this is pretty much the top of the bar. I’ve discussed the differences of post-2011 Kentucky Spirit versus Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel before, and it basically comes down to profile and dilution. Russell’s Reserve SiB tends to be creamy, with rich vanilla, maple, and brown sugar notes. Mid-2010’s Kentucky Spirit, on the other hand, has a thinner mouthfeel, is vanilla/spice-forward, and is arguably a touch youthful in nature. Based on the proof differences between the two, WTKS is likely more diluted (unless WT has a lot of barrels proofing down). Still, at 101 proof Kentucky Spirit has a lot going for it. It all depends on the barrel. In the case of Bayway’s selection, they did an excellent job.

In closing, this Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit is without-a-doubt a rock-solid B-grade whiskey; however, after having my share of recent WTKS bottles I can say that this one is a cut above and deserves some recognition. The cream cheese icing notes on the nose … well, I haven’t detected that since the entry-proof change. There’s also some herbal tea notes on the palate – again, more of a classic Wild Turkey profile. There’s some complexity, certainly more maturity than modern WT 101, and definitely balance from nose to finish. I would’ve loved to have tasted this whiskey straight from the barrel. It would’ve been something else, I’m sure.

Rating:  3.5/5 🦃