A few months back I reviewed a 1994 Wild Turkey 101 Old No. 8. Those familiar with that post will likely recall the objection I expressed towards the classic “age statement switcheroo.” I’ll refrain from beating a dead Turkey, but the gist of it is this. 1992 saw the 8-year age statement dropped from domestic bottles of WT 101; however, instead of just releasing a NAS (non-age-stated) 101 bottle, someone (I’m assuming Pernod Ricard’s marketing department) decided to swap the faithful “8 years old” phrase with “Old No. 8.” So, what does Old No. 8 mean? Absolutely nothing.
I think what frustrates me most about the 101 statement swap, and something that I didn’t discuss in the aforementioned ‘94 Old No. 8 review, is that Wild Turkey was producing some amazing “foolery-free” NAS expressions in the 1990’s. While most weren’t released until after 1992, the Old No. 8 label remained in use until 1999. In those seven years the domestic market saw Rare Breed (numerous batches), Kentucky Spirit (“pewter-tops”), and Kentucky Legend (“Donut”).
All of those Wild Turkey expressions lacked age statements and to-date are some of my favorite Wild Turkey whiskeys I’ve ever sipped. Seems to me that WT 101 would’ve been just fine in the 90’s without any sort of age statement, much less a mimic of one. At least someone (again, I’m assuming Pernod Ricard’s marketing department) decided to make that a reality before the year 2000.
Okay, so enough venting. Besides, this is a whiskey blog – a Wild Turkey whiskey blog – and that means I should be focused on things that really matter (like tasting Wild Turkey, of course). Speaking of which, today’s review is a WT 101 Old No. 8 from 1992 (the initial year of release). Special thanks to Ryan at Signde Drinks for the generous sample. If you’re not familiar with Ryan’s whiskey blog, it’s one of my personal favorites and I highly recommend it. In fact, go ahead and check it out now. This review will be here when you’re done.
Wild Turkey 101 “Old No. 8 Brand” (1992) – KSBW at 50.5% ABV – no age stated – bottled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Company, Lawrenceburg, KY
Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …
Color: rosy copper
Nose: (yep, dusty WT) honey-maple, vanilla bean, funky & musty oak, herbal tea, molasses, leather, clove tobacco, hints of floral perfume, orange peel
Taste: honey-maple, spicy vanilla, musty oak, brown sugar, herbal & floral notes, leather, hints of citrus
Finish: long, warm & flavorful – rich vanilla, funky & musty oak, sweet herbs, caramel, nutmeg, faint cinnamon, citrus & floral spice
Overall: Well, you can be unhappy about the Old No. 8 label all you want to, but I’ll guarantee you won’t be unhappy with the bourbon behind it (at least this ‘92). It may be FAS (“faux-age-stated”), but it’s every bit of dusty Wild Turkey as a ‘92 WT 101 8-year export. And while there are many dusty whiskeys that share similar “old bottle” qualities, vintage Wild Turkey has an amazing musty/funky oak backbone with a signature herbal/floral spice that really sets it apart. Core bourbon notes like vanilla and caramel are indeed there, but it’s that unique oak and spice combination that make it truly memorable.
If you’re actively looking for a dusty Wild Turkey KSBW expression – be it by trade, auction, or international retailers – you may want to consider a WT 101 Old No. 8 bottle. Depending on the year, you’ll likely get the dusty WT 101/8 profile for (slightly) less of a premium than the typical 80’s and 90’s age-stated releases. That said, vintage Wild Turkey is growing in popularity, so it may be easier to simply find a fellow whiskey enthusiast willing to provide a sample. It worked out well for me. In fact, I enjoyed every drop of this WT 101 sample just as much as any older 101 poured from a bottle I own. Cheers!
Rating: 4.5/5 🦃
Photo courtesy K. R. Oberleitner (2017)