If there’s one Wild Turkey expression I’ve passed on year after year, it’s Wild Turkey Spiced. What’s Wild Turkey Spiced? Essentially, a bourbon-based liqueur. The label states, “A bold blend of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey with spice and other natural flavors.” Bold, eh? Well, bold can go different ways. I’m not so sure this’ll be the bold I’m looking for, but what the hell? Might as well go for it.
But before I do, I should stress Wild Turkey Spiced is a discontinued expression. While it can still be found with a little effort, you won’t find many people chasing it. That really says something considering it was produced for a very short period of time (around two years from my research). But then, it is a liqueur. I can still find late-2000’s bottles of the long-tenured American Honey on retail shelves. Why should Spiced be any different?
Let’s dive in …
Wild Turkey Spiced (2013) – a blend of KSBW with “spice and other natural flavors” – 86 proof – no age stated – bottled by Wild Turkey Distilling Company, Lawrenceburg, KY
Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …
Color: copper sheen
Nose: (more sweet than spice) orange creamsicle, vanilla Tootsie Roll, candy apple, hints of nutmeg
Taste: (far more sweet than spice) orange creamsicle, vanilla syrup, “boozy” citrus, muted baking spice, faint oak
Finish: short/medium-short (but not short enough) – orange creamsicle, Cadbury Creme Egg filling, mild peppery spice
Overall: Ehh … This certainly isn’t the Wild Turkey I know and love. It’s far too cloying – far to faux-orange/vanilla for my liking. If you want an orange profile liqueur, pick up Grand Marnier and you’ll be set. As for the touted spice element of Wild Turkey Spiced … I’m just not getting much. Frankly, there’s more “spice” in modern Wild Turkey 101. Whatever spices are supposed to be here, they’re completely drowned out by intrusive sweetness. Not a pleasant neat pour in the least (and I don’t think ice would help either).
Rating: 1.75/5 🦃
Going into this tasting I couldn’t help but wonder how or why this expression existed to begin with. The best I can determine is that Wild Turkey Spiced was an attempt to compete with the wildly popular Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. If so, nice try Wild Turkey, but that’s not your gig. Let the Captain sail the high seas and hornswaggle the undiscerning masses; y’all stick to the Kentucky River and satisfying those who appreciate quality straight whiskey.
I’m now left with what to do with this bottle. I’d imagine it could service the right daiquiri. Maybe in a robust coffee with some heavy cream? Hard to say without trying. Thankfully, there are those who’ve experimented before me. According to some trusted bourbon buddies, Wild Turkey Spiced makes one hell of an eggnog. Really? Well, that I can do! In fact, it sounds like a great time to put fellow writer and friend Aaron Goldfarb’s homemade eggnog recipe to the test.
For those unfamiliar, Aaron is the author of 2018’s best-selling Hacking Whiskey: Smoking, Blending, Fat Washing, and Other Whiskey Experiments. His follow up, Gather Around Cocktails: Drinks to Celebrate Usual and Unusual Holidays, was released this Fall. Hacking Whiskey is all about experimentation – infusing, finishing, and getting a little crazy with whiskey; Gather Around Cocktails is all about entertaining – crafting the perfect libation for a special occasion or holiday. Both books get my highest recommendation, as each provides something fun and unique for the adventurous spirits reader.
Speaking of holidays, let’s get started on that eggnog. I’ve modified Aaron’s recipe to incorporate Wild Turkey Spiced and other spirits, as well as reducing the overall yield of the recipe down by two thirds. Here’s my spin on Aaron’s classic:
(Yields approximately one liter)
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 ounces Wild Turkey 101 bourbon
- 2 ounces Wild Turkey Spiced liqueur
- 2 ounces armagnac
- *2 teaspoons Longbranch Vanilla (vanilla-infused Wild Turkey Longbranch)
- Powdered nutmeg, for garnish
Separate the yolks from the egg whites. Beat the whites to your desired consistency. In a separate large bowl, whisk the yolks with the milk, cream, sugar, bourbon, liqueur, armagnac, and Longbranch Vanilla until you get a smooth texture. Transfer the mixture to a large serving bowl. Fold the beaten whites until combined. Chill and serve garnished with a sprinkle of powdered nutmeg.
Besides a few substitutions and an overall reduction in yield, I followed Aaron’s instructions with one minor exception – instead of beating the egg whites in a stand mixer, I beat them by hand. This provided greater control over consistency, as I prefer a slightly thinner eggnog. I also added two teaspoons of Longbranch Vanilla (thanks James). While I wouldn’t necessarily add run-of-the-mill vanilla extract to this recipe, if you have a homemade vanilla-infused bourbon, try adding a teaspoon and giving it a taste. You might just add another!
Cocktail Fun Rating: 5/5 🦃
In summary: There’s a reason Wild Turkey Spiced was discontinued. Fortunately, it works as a unique cocktail element, and therefore deserves a little (I’ll stress – a little) redemption. I wouldn’t necessarily seek it out, but with the holidays around the corner you might consider picking one up should the opportunity present itself. It makes a damn good eggnog. I’ll give it that. If that’s the best it can do – well, there’s far worse fates for sub-par booze. Cheers! dj