Please note: These thoughts are my own. I’m not an employee or representative of Wild Turkey Distilling Co. or its parent company, Campari.

Twenty years … seems like the blink of an eye. Two decades ago my adulthood was shifting into second gear. Life was easy; I had more free time (some of which was surely wasted). But, by September 11, 2001 everything would change. In a matter of hours life would become intensely serious. It was a wakeup call like none I’d experienced before.

I realize this isn’t how one expects a whiskey blog entry to start. Hell, there may not be any like this before; nevertheless, I have thoughts to share. You might not relate or agree and that’s fine. I don’t expect everyone to see things my way – never have. Yet, it’s important I express my concerns in hopes of a better future. But first, a little bourbon.

Wild Turkey 101 (2001) – KSBW @ 50.5% ABV – no age stated – bottled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY

Tasted neat in a rocks glass …

Tasting notes: caramel, honey-maple, blood orange, rich oak; butterscotch, ripe plum, nutmeg, hints of almond; medium-long finish w/ brandy, vanilla spice, sweet tobacco, faint leather

Impression: While not saturated in the dusty funk of 1980’s and early-1990’s Wild Turkey, this 2001 Wild Turkey 101 is exceptionally brandy-esque in character. Much like a well-aged Cognac or Armagnac, there’s a fermented dark fruit and “cellar oak” component that immediately stands out. I get whispers of those notes in 2021 McBrayer B private selections, but nowhere to the degree of this turn-of-the-century 101. It’s a reminder that nothing stays the same – that we should savor what we have while we have it.

I sometimes wonder what those who lost their lives on September 11th would think of the state of our modern world. In 2001, the United States was instantly unified by a common threat. We didn’t always agree on how to address that threat, but we worked it out. We arrived at a consensus – together – with a goal in mind and in remembrance of the fallen. Where are we now? Apparently, far from that.

Like most folks that rarely travel, my exposure to the entirety of this country is limited. Thankfully, there’s a worldwide network of kind and generous individuals in the whiskey community to keep me aware and open minded. I’m exposed to different perspectives and ways of life. I’m virtually surrounded by individuals of different lifestyles, means, ethnicities, and identities. Like the infinite variety of whiskey profiles to discover, there’s an equally diverse field of humanity to explore.

This isn’t a new topic of discussion. I’ve prosed similar themes in the past. Yet, in light of present circumstances, I feel they bear repeating.

I care about this community. It feels like a family at times. Sure, we occasionally fuss and fight, but more often than not we arrive at a peaceful consensus – even if it’s simply agreeing to disagree. Outside of the profiteers and charlatans, I’d say we’re a damn fine ragtag group of whiskey consumers. We’re not perfect (no family is), but we learn from each other; we lean on each other when times are tough.

I understand our community can’t change the world. Anyone with half a brain who watched the bourbon-bro-fest Heist episode on Netflix will likely take us less seriously for a considerable amount of time. But here’s the thing – we’re so much better than “bourbon broism.” We’re not “Pappygate” (ugh, I hate that word). We’re a group of individuals from all walks of life who share a common appreciation for America’s spirit. At least, I’d like to believe the majority of us fall into that category. 

I’m going to request two things from you today. They aren’t difficult. They shouldn’t be controversial or polarizing. And, they damn sure aren’t political.

First, respect the concerns of your fellow enthusiasts and whiskey establishments. If your local liquor store has a sign on the door asking you to wear a mask, wear a mask while you’re in their store. No one is asking you to swear allegiance to an ideology. They’re just asking you to be mindful of the health of their employees and customers for the brief time you’re there. That’s all.

The same goes for whiskey events and distilleries. When attending a tasting, tour, or private barrel selection and asked to wear a mask, wear a mask. It’s not hard. Willfully disrespecting an establishment’s COVID guidelines doesn’t make you a patriot. It makes you an asshole. Besides, you never know what the person next to you is going through. They may have a daughter with Cystic Fibrosis or a spouse with cancer.

Speaking of cancer, that brings me to my second request. A member of our community needs your help. Terri Nolan is a Nashville area whiskey enthusiast who has been battling breast cancer since January 2020. For a brief moment she thought she’d defeated it, but in June of this year she was informed the cancer had managed to hang on. Now, Terri is back in the fight, and once again, in the midst of a pandemic. 

If you have a few additional minutes to spare, I humbly ask that you read Terri’s Go Fund Me page. And, if you’re able, consider taking the amount you would’ve spent on your next bottle of whiskey and put it towards this worthy cause. At the very least, share her fight with your friends and fellow whiskey enthusiasts on social media. The road ahead for Terri won’t be easy, but if we each shoulder a portion of the load we can lighten her burden. I’ve challenged my Patreon supporters and many have answered the call, as have countless others in the whiskey community. Now, I’m asking for your assistance. To those who have contributed, you have my gratitude. To those considering, thank you in advance.

Before wrapping up, I’d like to circle back to my introduction. Time, like a bottle of fine whiskey, goes by faster than expected or desired. Sometimes it ends abruptly, like it did tragically for thousands twenty years ago. There are no guarantees in this world. Like the 2001 Wild Turkey 101 in my glass, the best we can do is savor what we have while we have it.

Let’s watch out for one another and continue to do what this community does best – fellowship, respecting others, and sharing. The world could learn a lot more from the whiskey community. We’re not about “broism” or heists. We don’t worship Pappy. We push the daily noise and rhetoric aside and focus on a common passion. Here’s to seeing it stays that way – for you, me, and generations to come. Cheers!


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