[…] American Spirit is an engaging read that should appeal to both whiskey novices and veteran bourbon enthusiasts. David is a generous and welcoming host; his passion is contagious and he devotes substantial sections of this book to laying the groundwork and equipping rookies with the tools they’ll need to understand not only Wild Turkey, but bourbon more generally. At the same time, the pedants among us will delight in the technical nitty-gritty and the obscurantia of hunting trip libations metamorphosing into the well-known and better-loved trademarks of the current day.
I once wrote that “Every great distillery deserves a fan like David,” and this tome only increases my conviction in that conclusion. As a reference work it is useful; as a story it is entertaining; as a philosophical treatise it provides food for thought and fuel for debate. Most importantly, however: as one superfan’s love-letter to his muse, it is inspirational. David set out to write a book about Wild Turkey but in the end, he has produced a book about (and energized throughout by) passion for whiskey. As a consequence, I can happily recommend this to drinkers of Wild Turkey, bourbon, and just about anything else.
Taylor Cope – Contributor, MALT Review
Driven by his own desire to explore what makes Wild Turkey special—and to debunk the fallacy that it’s a whiskey mainly for “roughnecks, old men, rock stars, and frat boys”—Jennings delves into how Wild Turkey originated, starting in the early 1830s with the struggles of brothers James and John Ripy after they left Ireland for America in search of a better life. He covers the distillery’s modern history, from now-master distiller Jimmy Russell’s first days as an employee to the appointment of his son Eddie Russell as co-master distiller in 2015, and even up to the release, in 2019, of the first rye whiskey in the Wild Turkey Master’s Keep collection. Jennings takes his reader on a highly personal, yet deeply researched, journey in which he aims to inspire a greater appreciation for Wild Turkey whiskey—and a trip to the local liquor store to pick up a bottle or two.
Jennings’ narrative is brought to life by dramatic shots of the Lawrenceburg, Kentucky distillery by photographer Victor Sizemore, as well as historical photographs of various members of the Ripy family, Jimmy and Eddie Russell, and other key figures from the Wild Turkey saga. In an effort to appeal to both seasoned whisky drinkers and “Turkey newbies,” Jennings includes several classic cocktail recipes using Wild Turkey 101 bourbon and rye and a guide to exploring other Wild Turkey whiskeys, along with highly specific technical information about the distillery’s equipment, recipes, and other details. Pick up this book if you have any interest in Wild Turkey or bourbon history—or if you just want to see a young, athletic Jimmy back when he was known as “Russell the Muscle.”
Zak Kostro – Contributor, Whisky Advocate Magazine
We’re all fans of something. Some of us may dive deeper and be considered enthusiasts or devotees. Then there are the few who take the leap to make it something more. A true part of their life. Passion put into action.
David Jennings is one of those few.
In his first book, American Spirit, David (known to some as “RareBird101” from his social media handles) turns from longtime fan of Wild Turkey bourbon to full-on historian […] He dives in with wit and charm, while giving you a great timeline from the birth of the Ripy Distillery in the 1800s, all the way to the state-of-the-art Wild Turkey operation we love today. David does a wonderful job taking you through the history and giving you all the facts you need but without overwhelming you. It certainly doesn’t feel like a textbook, but more of a journey that you feel you’re taking with the author as he poses questions to the reader that he himself asked as he researched the storied whiskey producer.
The history alone would be enough to warrant a read but David treats us to an appendix of notes on many Wild Turkey releases, including his own impressions (which feels less like someone just spouting their opinion and more like a true and experienced fan giving his honest thoughts).
If you have even a passing interest in whiskey this book is a must have. Cheers!
Matt Rehwoldt – Founder, Wrestling With Whiskey
American Spirit is a deeper look into the rich history of what may very well be America’s most iconic bourbon brand. Jennings addresses the commonly associated, oft-misunderstood image of Wild Turkey by taking readers on a journey through the archives of the pre-prohibition-era distillers, right up to finding great expressions sitting on the shelf today.
If you’re a fan of Wild Turkey bourbon, you’ll quickly appreciate this book. If you’re a Wild Turkey naysayer, it’s an opportunity to explore history as a means of gaining new understanding of the monumental impact this brand has had on our native spirit. The line between American distilling history and Wild Turkey Bourbon history is so thin that I defy anyone who reads this book to describe where one ends, and the other begins.
John Henderson – Founder, TheWhiskeyNet.com
American Spirit is a competent and enjoyable read, from the first image to the final paragraph. Jennings has managed to include everything an interested bourbon drinker needs, and nothing they don’t, delivering both an entertaining read and an unshakeable reference. The arrival of an endeavor like this is long overdue for bourbon drinkers, readers, experts and the curious alike.
Jay West – Founder, t8ke.review
I often hear Jimmy Russell gently correct his admirers when they respectfully address him as “Sir.” He’ll quietly inform them, “I’m just Jimmy.” In American Spirit, David Jennings does a masterful job detailing why this living legend is so fully deserving of the moniker, “Sir.”
David’s passion for Wild Turkey Bourbon, its storied history and the famous families behind it, shines through on every paragraph of every page. But this book is more than just whiskey. It’s about people – who they are – where they came from – and their drive to create something special. It’s an informative and entertaining journey.
If you’re like me and love bourbon history, you need to read this book! If you’re like me and love Wild Turkey … you’re REQUIRED to read this book! Cheers!
Bo Garrett – Tour Guide, Wild Turkey Distillery; Guitarist, Montgomery Gentry
Contrary to the folklore they spin, bourbon brands are born in branding rooms. And every now and then, one sticks, enduring the test of time and turmoil. Bourbon superfan David Jennings tells us how Wild Turkey flew into this flock, dominated the biker bar persona and stood on the shoulders of the great Jimmy Russell. If you’re a bourbon fan, you must learn the true story of Wild Turkey and not the one created in a marketing spin room.
Fred Minnick – Author, Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey
Wild Turkey and its iconic master distiller, Jimmy Russell, have flown under the hype radar. But not for true bourbon enthusiasts. And certainly not for new author David Jennings, who weaves together history with legend, transition with tradition, and family with globality into an unexpected love story.
Brian Haara – Author, Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America
Few products are as quintessentially American as bourbon, and few brands are as classic as Wild Turkey. David Jennings has captured everything that’s special about this legacy in a book that’s as much fun as it is informative.
Reid Mitenbuler – Author, Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey
Wild Turkey is a brand with a rich heritage and this book does an excellent job telling their story.
Michael Veach – Author, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage
Order your copy today at WildTurkeyBook.com.