Wow – it’s been a busy week! It all started the Sunday before last with a Patreon Community livestream loaded with fantastic whiskey, entertaining guests, and interesting conversations. Then Tuesday’s blog post shook things up a bit (I’m still replying to messages about that one). “Talk Turkey” episode three aired, curiously categorized as “unlisted” on YouTube for the first two days (thanks for the find, James). And finally, the news everyone (including yours truly) has been going crazy about, the TTB filings for both Rare Breed Rye and Master’s Keep Bottled In Bond were made public. Not that either of these were a complete surprise, but to learn that Rare Breed Rye would be NCF … well, let’s just say that Christmas came early for this little birdie.

Taking all of that into consideration (as well as several things happening on Patreon and with American Spirit: Wild Turkey Bourbon), let’s just say I’m beyond busy. Yet, this blog is important to me. As much as I’d love to kick back and watch some Netflix, I appreciate writing about (and tasting) Wild Turkey even more. So that’s exactly what I’ll do today. In fact, I already have a special bourbon picked out and ready to go – a 2016 Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit selected by Aquistapace’s of Louisiana (thanks again, James).

I first enjoyed this particular Kentucky Spirit last year as a sample. Frankly, I loved it from first sip. So, spoiler: this is a damn good barrel. But spoiler or not, that won’t keep me from gushing about it. Nope. These are the types of bottles I’m thrilled to write about – particularly when it comes to the oft-under-appreciated Kentucky Spirit. When you find a great one, take note (and buy more if you can). Honestly, if you’re wanting to experience the essence of Jimmy Russell, a top-quality Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit selection fills that role like no other – this bottle exceptionally so.

All that aside, I promise to clear my head and go into this tasting with a clean slate. You never know – sometimes things change. While I doubt my opinion will sway much with this selection, it’s a pointless wager now. We’ll find out soon enough. Let’s pour!

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit – selected by Adam Acquistapace – 101-proof KSBW – no age stated (rumored at least eight years) – bottled 3/21/2016 from barrel #651, warehouse G, rick #4 – distilled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Company, Lawrenceburg, KY

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: rich amber

Nose: (hints of classic WT) creme brulee, toffee, gingerbread, vanilla, caramel, sweet oak, cinnamon, apple peel, nutmeg, honey-butter, hints of orange zest & bubblegum

Taste: (sweet w/ earthy spice) creamy vanilla, honey, toasted caramel, brown sugar glaze, “peppery” oak char, cola, nutmeg, licorice, clove

Finish: long & robust – vanilla spice, heavily charred oak, dense caramel, clove, molasses, sassafras, nutmeg, black pepper, faint leather

Overall: Now this is how you pick a Kentucky Spirit barrel. Excellent! One facet that particularly strikes me with this Acquistapace’s selection is the juxtaposing see-saw balance between the sweeter confectionery notes and the heavier earthy notes. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a Kentucky Spirit with this level of earthiness. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel? Sure. Kentucky Spirit? Don’t think so. Despite the intensity, it’s certainly not distracting nor overwhelming. While complex in the extremes, the overall profile remains surprisingly balanced. It’s that rickhouse-G magic – a robust, yet well-balanced profile. All. Damn. Day.

My hat’s off to you, Mr. Acquistapace. You picked a fine barrel, sir – especially considering that few vendors opt for a Kentucky Spirit bottling over Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel. Then again, maybe I’m giving too much credit for the expression option? Maybe this barrel fell under 110 proof to begin with? Regardless, it shouldn’t diminish this selection’s greatness or the fact it bears the Acquistapace (or Wild Turkey) name. It truly is excellent in virtually every way.

Rating: 4.25/5 🦃

Looking at my collection I’ve come to the realization that I’m severely lacking in Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit bottles (at least in comparison to Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon). Some of that is the result of sheer availability, though truth be told it’s not like Kentucky Spirit is impossible to find. Perhaps I should branch out a little more – find new vendors or clubs with reputable selections? Or even better, maybe resist the urge to go 110-proof NCF and opt for a Kentucky Spirit bottling the next time I select a barrel? It would be tough, but if I could find the right “Jimmy-style” bourbon, it might be worth trying in 2020.

Speaking of 2020, I’ve heard that rickhouse G is slated for next year’s single-barrel program roster. As many of you know, rickhouse G is a personal favorite. Perhaps the stars are aligning. Perhaps I should take this Acquistapace selection as a sign of what lies ahead.

So get ready Turkey fans – next year’s going to be incredible. Not only will we have Rare Breed Rye and Master’s Keep Bottled in Bond, but a whole new variety of rickhouses from which private barrels will be selected – rickhouses like Tyrone A, B, G, and K, as well as Camp Nelson C. Like I said … incredible! Which reminds me – you might want to start building those new sets of cabinets you’ve been thinking about. You’re gonna need ‘em!

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