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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Classic. I really loved sipping along with y’all and some 101 for Whiskey at Home this weekend. One of the notes I got in mine (LL/HE) reminded me of the sweet, fresh cut oak smell I remember from splitting wood in the fall up at our family cabin. I wasn’t an immediate lover of 101 in my whiskey journey, but I always ended up coming back to it time and time again. I couldn’t deny the power of the kickin’ chicken, ha ha.
Thanks for watching and reading! Most folks eventually come back around to 101. It’s hard to beat!
Awesome review as always! You did a great job on WFH. I get so conflicted inside when I hear you and others preaching the Gospel according to Russell. I want WT to get the credit and respect it deserves but I get worried about creating a hype train that is headed toward allocation town. Nonetheless, I route for the home team too and always get joy listening/reading you doing the same
Thanks Evan! 🥃🦃
I have an LL/IB 1.75 if you need a sample for comparison. For what it’s worth I’m a WT fan and hadn’t noticed a difference and didn’t know of this “issue” until reading this review.
Appreciate it Cameron. I’m good for now!
I can’t find the dating mechanism you mentioned on my 2020 handle of 101. I read the reddit but it’s too confusing. Where on the 2020 1.75 liter bottles?
You should see a code laser etched in glass. Sometimes a flashlight helps. Check the side of bottle towards the bottom.
I just bought a handle of LL/IG. I’m a big fan of Wild Turkey, however mostly drink Rare Breed and Russell’s Reserve SB. Have had a few pours of 101 over the past few years and wanted to revisit, especially after reading this review and the comments, so I jumped in with both feet. It’s delicious. You nailed the review Rarebird101. I’m getting most of what you describe on the nose, palate and finish. I had OGD114 as my No.1 under $30, but I think WT101 just surpassed it. Kudos and keep up the good work!
Thanks so much, Tom! Glad you found a new value pour. Hard to beat 101!
Wild Turkey 101 is a staple in my house. It’s always in my collection. A few years back at my nephew’s wedding i talked with some of his young friends and the talk turned to bourbon. They asked me my opinion of Maker’s Mark and my comment was it was a decent starter bourbon. They looked at me in amazement and said “Starter bourbon? What do you think is better?” My instant reply was “Wild Turkey 101”. They looked at me like I was crazy. I just said, “Try it.” Hopefully they did and are now fans.
Yes sir. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that same experience. When I tell folks I’m a Wild Turkey fan, I get a lot of strange looks and chuckles. 🙂