This one arrived completely out of the blue. Until recently, I’d never heard of the export-only Wild Turkey Master Distiller Selection. As luck would have it, if you contribute to the right whiskey community long enough, good things come your way.
I don’t have a wealth of information on the fourteen-year Master Distiller Selection, other than it was a 2006 Asian market release. According to a reputable source, it was limited to 6,000 bottles, all batched at barrel proof (107 in this case). Bottles were labeled with batch and bottle numbers, though I’m unable to determine if it’s composed of multiple small batches (similar to Rare Breed) or a one-time master batch. As with many Wild Turkey limited editions, it’s boxed and adorned with its share of marketing fluff. The reverse label reads:
Master Distiller Jimmy Russell’s vision of the “Ultimate Bourbon” has finally been realized. A bourbon taken directly from the barrel, with a long and powerful finish. At 107 proof, Wild Turkey Master Distiller Selection 14 Year Old Barrel Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey tastes the way bourbon was originally intended.
We’ve all seen this type of language before, on many special and not-so-special bourbons (not just releases from Wild Turkey). The real test – the only test – is how it sips. With that, on to the tasting!
Wild Turkey Master Distiller Selection (2006 export) – 107 proof KSBW, aged fourteen years – batch #MD-9206, bottle #5733 – distilled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY
Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …
Color: black tea (I rarely, if ever, comment on “legs” in a whiskey glass. This one is worthy of noting and something to be seen.)
Nose: (classic & dusty) immense herbal & floral notes, honey-maple, sweet tea, vanilla bean, robust funky oak, fragrant tobacco, leather, blood orange, clove, licorice
Taste: (wow … just … wow) honey-maple, rich & sticky vanilla from another dimension, dense oak, floral perfume, sweet herbs, blood orange, brown sugar, tobacco, layered baking spice
Finish: (in a word … beautiful) long, flavorful & pleasantly warming – thick honey-maple, classic caramel, intense sweet oak, leather, slowly diminishing herbal/floral spice
Overall: One thought repeatedly comes to mind as I’m penning these notes: This is beautiful whiskey. And it truly is. Yes, the label touts the typical eye-roll jargon. Whether or not this Master Distiller Selection is actually Jimmy’s “ultimate bourbon” is highly contestable. Based on the interviews I’ve read with the Russells, fourteen-year-old whiskey isn’t Jimmy’s preferred pour at all. That said, it really doesn’t matter because it’s an exemplary bourbon of which I’ve enjoyed every breath, sip, and exhale.
Folks, 2006’s Master Distiller Selection is everything one could want in a top-quality Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. It’s undeniably complex, with intense classic Wild Turkey notes, as well as some notable dusty profile characteristics to up the ante. It’s near-perfect in maturity, with the oak staying ably in check with its delicate contrasting nuances. As for the finish, the Master Distiller Selection is one of those few bourbons that impart a true “grand finale.” By that, I mean it maintains the same degree of complexity found when nosing and tasting – triumphantly fading out in the most enjoyable fashion. That, to me, is the essence of balance. There’s not only balance from phase to phase (nose, taste, finish), but balance overall in relation to each and every phase.
In closing, Wild Turkey’s fourteen-year Master Distiller Selection easily falls within my personal “Top Five” Wild Turkey whiskeys I’ve tasted to date (more realistically, somewhere within my “Top Three”). It’s that exceptional. As with most vintage Wild Turkey limited editions, the trick is finding it and not paying more than it’s worth to consume it. I can’t give you a monetary value (that’s up to you), but I can tell you it’s about as perfect as bourbon can get.
Rating: 5/5 🦃
Photo Courtesy T. Baughn (2017)