About two years ago I received an email from author Aaron Goldfarb. He was researching Wild Turkey expressions and had a few questions for an article he was working on. I answered as best I could and the end result was Punch Drink Magazine’s “How Wild Turkey ‘Funk’ Became a Whiskey Geek Obsession.”

Looking back, Aaron’s article marks the point when this website started drawing regular visitors. While my writing has always been for fun and my blog a convenient means of sharing my passion for Wild Turkey, I’ll admit it feels good when people take notice. I have Aaron to thank for his role in that.

About a year later, Aaron authored a genre-twisting book, Hacking Whiskey. It was immediately a best seller and rightfully so, as it’s undeniably the craziest whiskey book ever written (a helluva fun read too). Once again, Aaron’s generosity extended my way and two of my custom Wild Turkey blends were included in the publication. Thanks again, Aaron!

But something that most folks probably don’t know about Hacking Whiskey, are the whiskeys Aaron personally selected to celebrate and promote the book’s release. There was a WhistlePig Single Barrel Rye finished in ex-apple cider casks (freakin’ awesome, BTW) and a Kentucky Spirit from what I consider Wild Turkey’s “wildcard rickhouse,” Warehouse K.

“Wildcard rickhouse?” That’s right. There’s something truly unique about rickhouse K that’s hard to explain. Of all of the Wild Turkey single-barrel bourbons I’ve tasted, selections from K are curiously the most variant. From bright citrus and sweet summer fruit, to dense funky oak and dark earthy tobacco, rickhouse K mysteriously turns whiskey barrels into one-of-a-kind treasures. Even the rejects are remarkable! 😉

I was both fortunate and grateful to receive a bottle of Aaron’s “Hacking Whiskey” Kentucky Spirit, though truthfully, I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t a Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel selection. To me, 110-proof NCF is where modern Wild Turkey really shines (outside of full barrel proof, of course). But I’ve since put my bias aside and accepted that it’s only fair to judge the classic 101-proof chill-filtered expression on its own merit.

Before moving to the formal tasting, I should probably admit that I’m a little anxious. Aaron’s a good friend that’s helped me so many times, the last thing I want to do is write a discouraging review. Thankfully, Aaron knows how I roll. If Jimmy and Eddie Russell don’t get a break, he sure as hell won’t either! 🙂 But wait – why am I assuming this will be an unfavorable review? Aaron’s sipped his fair share of Turkey. Surely all of those cereal milk whiskeys and “baconized” bourbons haven’t fried his palate yet, right? Eh, I don’t know. Maybe they have? Maybe he’s hacked out? Maybe I just need to stop typing and sip the damn whiskey?!

Hacking Whiskey WTKS

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit “Hacking Whiskey – Spirits Scribes Barrel Selection” – 101 proof KSBW – no age stated – bottled 1/14/2019 from barrel #18-0002, warehouse K, floor 3, rick 6 – distilled and bottled by the Wild Turkey Distilling Company, Lawrenceburg, KY

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: copper

Nose: (“neo-classic” WT) butter toffee, vanilla-orange, cake frosting, tangy oak, herbal spice, fruit cocktail, caramel drizzle, toasted marshmallow, citrus zest

Taste: (well balanced) caramel candy, vanilla, honey, pepper, sweet charred oak, orange peel, herbal spice, nutmeg, sugar cane, faint cinnamon

Finish: (elegant w/ depth) long w/ lingering spice – vanilla, spicy oak, cinnamon, orange/lemon zest, gum drops, clove, leather, hints of floral notes & pepper

Overall: Have you ever read The Monster at the End of this Book? Well, I feel like I just finished it. First, there was absolutely nothing to be anxious about. There was no need for ropes, or boards, or bricks, or yelling “YOU NOSED THE WHISKEY!!” As it turns out, the monster at the end of this tasting is the whiskey itself. Sweet, lovable, tasty whiskey.

Aaron, you did well, sir. I’m sincerely impressed with this Kentucky Spirit – and – time has done nothing but wonderful things for it as I’ve sipped it down. The nose is very much modern Wild Turkey, but with a distinctively classic flair. I’ve heard that Jimmy Russell refers to Kentucky Spirit as “Wild Turkey 101 in a tuxedo.” If so, Jimmy’s nailed it – especially in relation to this barrel (dangerously sharp with a solid 101 backbone). But the one feature that really makes this selection stand out is its notable lingering finish.

If you’ve ever had Wild Turkey American Spirit (a 15-year bottled-in-bond LE from 2007), you might recall its long spicy finish. Aaron Goldfarb’s “Hacking Whiskey” Kentucky Spirit has an eerily similar diminishing spice that both captivates and satisfies. The oak isn’t as intense as what’s found in American Spirit, but the spice and “tingle” are certainly comparable. There’s rich layers of cinnamon, clove candy, and zesty citrus, all pushing this Kentucky Spirit well above the average single-barrel private selection. As such, it shall be rated accordingly. Cheers!

Rating: 4/5 🦃