The 1990’s were great years for me. I was in the prime of my young adulthood with limitless possibilities ahead. Unfortunately, when it came to whiskey I was stuck in “Jim & Jack land” – completely oblivious to the quality straight bourbon whiskey coming out of Lawrenceburg, KY. But that’s youth for you. You know what you like (hell, you know everything) and no one’s going to tell you otherwise. If I could travel back in time, I’d slap myself in the head and drag my know-it-all ass down to the nearest bottle shop. If only.
While without doubt the 1980’s saw some amazing Wild Turkey whiskeys, particularly the flagship WT 101/8 and the special edition 101/12 Beyond Duplication, it was the 1990’s that was arguably the best decade for diverse Wild Turkey expressions. The list is impressive: “Cheesy Gold Foil” and “Split Label” 101/12’s, “Pewter-Top” Kentucky Spirit and Kentucky Legend (AKA “Donut”) single barrels, numerous Rare Breed batches, various age-stated (and non age-stated) exports, etc. Simply stated, Wild Turkey bottled some fantastic A-grade bourbons in those ten years.
And so it is with great pleasure that I have the opportunity to taste this 1992 Wild Turkey 101 8-year. I’ve had 1991 WT 101/8 on many occasions, so if the ’92 is anywhere close in profile, it should be fabulous. The only thing I’m not sure about is if this bottle is a domestic or export release, as 1992 was the year the age statement was dropped. Regardless, the whiskey inside is all Wild Turkey – and isn’t that all that really matters?
Wild Turkey 101 8-Year (1992) – KSBW at 50.5% ABV – aged at least eight years – bottled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY
Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …
Color: deep/dark amber
Nose: (signature “dusty” WT) molasses, rich vanilla, big musty & funky oak, blood orange, leather, clove, herbal & floral spice
Taste: vanilla bean, brown sugar, honey-maple, charred oak, ripe citrus, caramel, leather, fragrant tobacco, herbal spice, hints of floral perfume
Finish: (near-perfect) long & strong – complex herbal/floral spice balanced with sweet oak, thick vanilla & brown sugar
Overall No surprises here – this is excellent whiskey. It’s strikingly complex, notably mature for its stated age, and well-balanced in flavor throughout all phases (nose, taste, and finish). Quite exceptional when you consider that this bottle was produced as an everyman’s everyday pour. The profile is right on par with 1991 Wild Turkey 101 8-year, with loads of signature dusty WT notes. The primary differences between the two bourbons appear in mouthfeel and finish, with the ’91 having a slightly oilier texture and the ’92 having a bit more intense finish. But that’s getting real picky (and merely brief observations from a single tasting). Bottom line is, it’s hands-down one helluva great sipper. Too bad my younger self “had it all figured out.” Oh, well – here’s to a swan song of the bourbon glut era! A-