Since its introduction in the early 1940s, Wild Turkey 101 has carried an eight-year age statement. Many presume the age statement was dropped entirely in the early 1990s. It was dropped, but only for the United States. Eight-year Wild Turkey 101 lived on in the export market, especially Japan, and continues to do so to this day.

This is the part where I should probably calm the crowd. Yes, there are a few cool whiskeys exclusive to export and travel-retail markets. This isn’t unique to Wild Turkey. Many spirits brands do the same. So, if you’re getting riled up and annoyed not finding age-stated Wild Turkey 101 (eight- or 12-Year), think about what we have in abundance in the U.S. – namely, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel and Kentucky Spirit private selections (among others). Each of these expressions are aged a minimum of eight years, sometimes notably longer. In the case of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, it’s non-chill filtered and closer to barrel strength than Wild Turkey 101/8. 

All that said, do I wish we had aged-stated 101 domestically? Sure. At the very least, I’d love to see 101/8 and 101/12 at the distillery gift shop. I’m sure they’d sell out quickly, but then, if priced for demand they might stick around a little longer. After all, the price of Evan Williams Red Label is considerably higher in the U.S. when compared to the Japanese retail price. Heaven Hill doesn’t seem to have a problem selling the 12-year Evan Williams at their gift shop for a premium. Maybe Wild Turkey should follow suit?

Some of you are probably familiar with my Wild Turkey 101 12-Year review. If available domestically for a premium, I’d recommend 101/12 in a heartbeat. It’s that good. But what about the eight-year expression? Is it worth a premium like its 12-year cousin? That’s precisely what I’ll address in today’s review.

Before I dive in I should mention this is a 2022 bottling (July 8th, to be exact). Being a batched product, and possibly on a smaller scale than everyday Wild Turkey 101, profile variance is likely. From my experience, variation from month to month is subtle (if detectable at all), but from year to year it’s more noticeable. If you have or acquire a 101/8 export from a another year, your notes may not align with mine. And then there’s the whole subjectivity of interpreting a whiskey’s flavor. One can only draw so much from an individual’s impression. I’ll do my best to be as objective as possible, but nothing beats trying things out for yourself. 

With that, let’s pour!

Wild Turkey 101 – Aged 8 Years

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Proof: 101

Age: eight years

Misc.: Distilled and bottled in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, USA (box states “distilled & bottled at Wild Turkey, Lawrenceburg, KY, USA”).

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: amber

Nose: butter toffee, glazed apples, honey-roasted nuts, orange peel, charred oak, baking spice

Taste: vanilla, caramel drizzle, cream soda, sweet oak, faint lemon zest & maraschino cherry

Finish: long w/ toasted caramel, brown sugar, savory citrus, butterscotch, hints of cola & white pepper

Impression: While not as noteworthy as the 12-year export, this is damn good bourbon. There’s nary a hint of youthfulness, which only affirms that age statements mean something. It may not have the rich oak, medicinal cherry, and sweet leather of 101/12, but 101/8’s toffee, caramel, and savory citrus are more than enough to leave you thirsty for more. Frankly, for a straight retail purchase (about 22 USD for a 700ml bottle), it’s hard to beat.

At this point I’d wager you’re wondering how today’s eight-year Wild Turkey 101 compares to non-age-stated 101. I’ve ventured this comparison multiple times on various occasions. I’ll say that my affection for the eight-year expression has only grown. It’s not that domestic 101 isn’t worthy of a purchase. It very much is, and tastes fantastic for the affordable price and effortless availability, but the eight-year 101 is more complex and unquestionably refined. Both carry the signature Wild Turkey boldness, the age-stated version just has it with well-executed Kentucky grace.

Which brings me to the question posed earlier in this review: Is Wild Turkey 101/8 worth a premium? Yes, but only to a degree. In my tastings I’ve found that Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit frequently outperforms the eight-year Wild Turkey 101. One could always chalk that up to exemplary single barrels competing with a batched product. Possibly, though I’ve gone through a great deal of Kentucky Spirits. If we establish domestic 101 as the floor and Kentucky Spirit as the ceiling, a $50 purchase for a 700ml bottle of 101/8 should be completely reasonable. Hell, I might even pay $60 considering the classy presentation and guarantee of a Turkey that spent no less than eight years in oak. 

At the end of the day, it’s your money. If a bottle of eight-year Wild Turkey 101 is worth $100 to you, go for it. As for me, Kentucky Spirit scratches that itch at $75 just fine (with the added bonus of sometimes finding an incredible private barrel selection). I do feel that Campari should find a way to sell the eight- and 12-year 101 in the gift shop from time to time. Last I checked, distillery-only bottlings not intended for interstate commerce don’t require TTB COLA approval. Taking that into consideration, this could happen as soon as tomorrow.

So, how about it, Campari? Want to make your biggest fans happy? Get some age-stated Wild Turkey 101 stocked at the visitors center and watch the lines (and smiles) form.



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