What a weekend! I’m willing to bet most of you caught Whiskey From Home, but if not, you should definitely take some time to watch. With over five hours of continuous American whiskey content, from history lessons to live tastings, Whiskey From Home more than delivered. And while every presenter and panelist did a damn fine job, it was Bourbon Pursuit that deserves a lion’s share of the credit for its success. There was an epic ton of behind-the-scenes work put in by Kenny, Ryan, Lauren, and Fred, not to mention making it all happen in the first place. So cheers and thanks to Bourbon Pursuit!
For those of you that haven’t watched (spoiler alert), Wild Turkey 101 stole the show. But don’t thank me. Thank Dads Drinking Bourbon, The Bourbon Enthusiast, t8ke Review, and Fred Minnick. Each of these fine gentlemen (as well as numerous individuals in the live chat) made it undeniably clear: Wild Turkey 101 is as quality as quality bourbon gets. I wholeheartedly agree, of course. It’s in many ways a contrast to the commentary on Reddit’s r/Bourbon just a few weeks ago.
So what happened? Simply put, there were several reports of “off” batches of recent Wild Turkey 101 bottles (specifically February 2020 1.75L, or “handle,” bottles). While there hasn’t been an official statement from Wild Turkey, Campari PR quickly stepped in and addressed the matter on Reddit directly. For what it’s worth, I threw my two cents in the barrel as well.
Fast forward to this week, and what did I find sitting on my local’s shelf? 2020 Wild Turkey 101 handles. While none of them were February (LL/IB) batches, I did find several March (LL/IC) bottles (a no-brainer buy as far as I was concerned). But would March 2020 measure up to the fantastic 2018 and 2019 batches I’ve enjoyed countless times? I sure hoped so. 1.75 liters is a lot of whiskey.
I’ll kill my usual bit and cut to the chase – it’s rock solid Wild Turkey 101 if ever there was. While it’s always possible that February had an off-profile batch (even likely considering how much I trust the palates of several enthusiasts who brought the matter to light), these types of occurrences are rare at best. I’ve seen Wild Turkey’s operation first hand, as well as talked with folks behind the scenes enough to know that consistency is paramount for the brand’s batched products. While perfection is always sought and preferred, it’s seldom achieved by any distillery.
With that behind us, let’s sip some Turkey.
Wild Turkey 101 (March 2020) – KSBW at 50.5% ABV – no age stated – distilled and bottled by the Wild Turkey Distilling Company, Lawrenceburg, KY
Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …
Color: brilliant copper
Nose: (modern WT) warm vanilla, butter toffee, caramel, herbal tea, “sugary” oak, orange peel, fruit cocktail, baking spice
Taste: (silky mouthfeel) caramel candy, vanilla, sweet oak char, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, hints of citrus & floral spice
Finish: long & balanced – confectioners sugar, nutty toffee, toasted vanilla, caramel, sweet oak, nutmeg, faint pepper
Overall: Folks, it really doesn’t get much better than this for the money. The top-quality whiskey the Russells put into everyday Wild Turkey 101 would cost you three times more in a fly-by-night fancy NDP or craft bourbon (if not considerably higher). Am I as impressed with this particular 2020 bottle as I have been with some 2018 and 2019 releases? Maybe not quite as much, but overall, pretty darn close. (I have zero complaints, if that says anything.) And while it’s no formal comparison, it seems as if this 2020 batch is a little sweeter … a little less oak and earthy spice than batches of the recent past. That’s just me pulling from memory, so your mileage may vary.
The bottom line is this: You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bourbon that compares to Wild Turkey 101 at near-equivalent price, proof, and volume in 2020. Sure, Evan Williams and Old Grand Dad Bottled in Bond are great deals. But they’re four-year whiskey (maybe five years at best). They taste good for the price – but don’t fool yourself – they’re no Wild Turkey 101. (They’re just not, so 😛 )
Rating: 3.5/5 🦃
Before I wrap things up I just want to say, please don’t take my (obvious) bias too seriously. I confess: I’m a Wild Turkey fan. I pull for the home team through thick and thin. Thankfully, Wild Turkey doesn’t navigate “thin” all that much. But for the record, I call each pour as I see it. I don’t think Eddie Russell or anyone at Wild Turkey Distillery would appreciate me blowing smoke any more than readers. Should you ever question my judgement or disagree with my opinion, feel free to shoot me a message or comment on a post. I’m always open to discussion and up for friendly debate. Besides, this hobby wouldn’t be near as much fun if we all agreed on everything. Cheers!
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