It’s not that I don’t have a lot to talk about, I just have a lot to not talk about. So much has gone on in the last ten months. Where to begin? But then, it’s probably best I don’t. I just hope for a day when we can all get together once again – share glasses of whiskey and debate the little things that don’t really matter.
For now, I keep the daily doldrums away by interacting virtually with this wonderful whiskey community. There’s loads of quality content to be found – blogs, podcasts, social channels, YouTube, and online forums. Yet sadly, one of my favorite digital magazines, Malt Review, recently announced its end. It seems March 2021 may be the last we’ll see of this leading independent voice in whiskey. While I don’t always agree with Malt’s ratings (what’s wrong with you, Taylor? 🙂 ), I admire their zeal for reviewing, be it glowingly positive or brutally negative. Malt Review is our Lester Bangs in an industry fraught with marketing bullshit and self-serving prose, and I’m sad to see it go.
Speaking of voices in whiskey, I recently decided to do something constructive with all of my non Wild Turkey bottles. (No, I didn’t start an infinity bottle. Note I said “constructive.” 😉 ) Some of you are already aware, but for others that pay little attention to social media (probably a good thing), I started a new venture, TweetDrams.com.
So what’s Tweet Drams? Easy – whiskey reviews in 1,200 characters or less. Essentially, it’s a platform created to share my thoughts on other pours. There’s no fancy photography, no lengthy articles or epic reviews, just a handful of sentences, some tasting notes, and an unconventional rating. It’s quick, simple, and painless (Benchmark tasting excluded). It also affords me the time to stay Turkey-focused, yet throw out my two cents of foreign currency whenever desired.
If you have a few minutes, please give Tweet Drams a look. You might just find the reviews helpful and entertaining. At the least you should get a decent eye-roll or two out of it.
In true hodgepodge-post fashion I’ll move to the next phase of this blog entry, a bourbon review. It’s been a while since I last reviewed a vintage Wild Turkey expression. Seeing that I still have plenty of holes to fill, there’s no time like the present to get back to filling.
Today’s review is special as it arrives courtesy of a longtime bourbon friend and O-G Patreon supporter. Scott, I truly appreciate your generosity. Dusty Turkey isn’t cheap or easy to find these days, so any opportunity to sip Jimmy Russell’s finest is a celebrated occasion.
And with that, late-1990’s Wild Turkey 101. Cheers to Scott and Jimmy!
Wild Turkey 101 (1999) – KSBW @ 50.5% ABV – no age stated – bottled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY
Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …
Nose: (fragrant classic WT) honey-maple, warm apple cider & cinnamon, boozy vanilla, rich oak, orange peel, sweet herbal spice
Taste: (unmistakably Russell) caramel apple, vanilla syrup, honey-maple, sweet oak, herbal & floral spice, nutmeg, ripe citrus
Finish: long & perfectly balanced – butter toffee, creamy caramel candy, autumn fruit, brown sugar, diminishing oak & pepper
Overall: These early “bird in profile” 101 bottles are so under-appreciated. They’re not 1980’s or 1990’s Wild Turkey 101/8s, but they’ll damn sure give a majority of the 101 “Old No. 8” releases a run for their money. This 1999 101 is classic Wild Turkey in quintessential form. With faint traces of dusty bourbon, and a whole helluva lot of old-school character, it’s everything you’d expect it to be and then some. It’s not as diverse or complex in terms of tasting note variety, but the profile notes it boldly showcases are beautiful, well-balanced, and lovely on the senses. Hell, I’m tempted to seek out one of these bottles myself.
Rating: 4/5 🦃
Date Codes, etc.
Considering this particular Austin, Nichols label ran for well over ten years, how can one tell the difference between “bird in profile” labeled bottles? For starters, my bottle code guide should answer a majority of your questions. There are, however, two additional identifiers to look for.
The first trait is a URL, or Wild Turkey web address, on the reverse label. This URL was added around 2002-2003 (bottle size depending). If you find a “bird in profile” label without a URL, it’s likely 1999-2002 (or thereabouts).
A second identifier is the bottle code. In 2006, then owner Pernod Ricard moved bottling from Lawrenceburg, Indiana, to Fort Smith, Arkansas. Due to the change in facilities, bottle codes switched from black ink to laser etchings on the glass (bottle’s lower side, not underside). If you have a laser-etched code, the bottle was filled 2006-2011. If you have an ink code (neck foil, glass, or reverse label) or partial ink code, the bottle was filled in 2006 or prior. In either case, if you can read a full bottle code please refer to my code guide to determine an exact date.
And that’s about it for today. I certainly appreciate you hanging on through the meandering. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. At least today it involved a vintage delight. Thanks again to Scott for the delicious pour and generous support over the last three years. Thank you to all of my Patreon supporters, and to you, my readers, for keeping this blog going. Your interest and attention means more to me now than ever before. I’m grateful for this amazing community and hope to be productive and relative for many years to come. Cheers!
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