What follows is an email I received from Dixon Dedman of the historic Beaumont Inn and Kentucky Owl Bourbon. Dixon, like anyone that appreciates damn fine whiskey, is a fan of Wild Turkey. When I mentioned that I’d be comparing two of his Russell’s Reserve private selections, he said he had a story to share about his all-time favorite Wild Turkey pick. My original intention was to include a summary in my review, but after reading his email (and thoroughly enjoying it) I felt it best to publish it on its own. I hope you take as much from it as I have.
The story of barrel 68 is hazy at best. It was just Eddie, Jamie, and I that day, and we’d already picked barrels at Four Roses that morning. There’s a certain familiarity you develop with Eddie when he becomes comfortable with you and you’re not dragging along ten other people taking pics for Instagram and posting all over social media. Eddie always has something to share with us and we usually bring Eddie something as well. Honestly, I think Eddie gets tired of everyone always asking questions about why they don’t make Turkey that tastes like old Turkey and things like that. I think because we’re there to select barrels and have a great relationship with him – Jamie even more so than me – he gets really excited about just drinking amazing barrels with some easy-going guys who aren’t going to pester him with all kinds of goofy questions. [rarebird101: note to self – don’t be nerdy or goofy around Eddie.]
At any rate, I respect those that compile laundry lists of tasting notes and are very introspective about the process. We, however, do not. It’s a glass, a bottle of water, and that’s about it. We don’t ask about the rickhouse or the age. We don’t really care about any of the specs or that type of thing. We go by what comes out of the barrel.
The long and short of it is that we had tasted barrel 68 on a previous pick. I don’t recall what we selected in its place, but Jamie probably does because he has that type of memory. We tasted through probably a dozen barrels, and while we found some we liked, we weren’t thrilled. Eddie said we could go over to the other side of the rickhouse and look at some of those barrels. Seriously, Jamie has an encyclopedic memory for this stuff and when we walked past the barrels he said, “Isn’t that the low-yield barrel that was here last time?” Sure enough, it was. We pulled a sample, tasted it, and both said, “Why the hell is this still here?” Eddie was equally perplexed. He liked it as much as we did. Nothing else that day came close. So the barrel we passed on once was still there when we went back, and we opted not to pass on it a second time.
When the barrel came in, Jamie called me. He said, “Dude, no joke. That barrel 68 is the best barrel we’ve ever picked from Turkey hands down.” I honestly thought he was full of shit. So he then brought me some bottles from some other picks and a few from 68. I called him back after I opened them to confirm that he was right. It’s the best barrel we’ve ever picked from Turkey.
So, that’s what I remember from the pick of barrel 68. It’s pretty cool to have the opportunity to help Jamie with some of these picks. He has an incredible talent for recognizing good barrels. He’s no nonsense about it. I think that’s why his barrel program is so successful.
Not to mention, when you’ve got Eddie weighing in as opposed to just administering the pick, you end up with something even more special.
It should also be noted that while not listed on the neck tag for barrel 84, Jamie was very much a part of that pick and helped select that barrel as well. So, this is actually a Farris/Dedman v. Dedman/Farris slugfest. May the best team win.
April 2, 2018