Wild Turkey Bourbons

There are a number of different bourbon whiskeys produced by Wild Turkey.

Wild Turkey
from the Wild Turkey Facebook page

They are distilled by the Wild Turkey Distilling Co, a division of Campari Group, at their distillery near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The brand developed around 1940, as an NDP (non-distiller produced) bourbon. Much but not all came from the Ripys/Gould distillery in Tyrone, Kentuckey. But the Wild Turkey that we know today really started in 1971, when Austin Nichols bought the Boulevard Distillery, and renamed it the Wild Turkey Distillery.

How are they different from each other? We have a breakdown kindly provided to us by Sam Kershaw, UK Brand Ambassador at Wild Turkey.

Wild Turkey Jimmy and Eddie Russell
A photo from Wild Turkey showing Master Distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell in the rickhouse.

All are produced for either WT or Russells Reserve. There is just one mash bill, high rye.

Aged in #4 charred barrel ASB, 200 litres from the Independent Stave Company.

There are 28 rackhouses, with a barrel inventory of 680 thousand barrels.

WT 81 proof – Their standard bourbon. 5-7 yrs (bulk 6.5 yrs)

101 proof – 6-8 yrs (bulk 7.5 yrs)

WT Rye 81 & WT 101 Proof (4-5 years each)

Russell’s Rye has a 6 year age statement; it actually has 6.5 year old rye in it- the oldest rye they have.

Rare Breed, first bottled in 1991. There have been 11 different releases since then. It is sold at barrel proof, but chill filtered. It is a blend of 6, 8, 12 years, in batches of about 200 barrels a time.

The UK release of Rare Breed is 112.8 proof, but available in the US and Australia at 116.8 proof.

The original Rare Breed was 110 proof – thats the only release of that proof

The same is true with Russell’s Reserve – same mash bill, so essentially the same whiskey when it hits the barrel. The only difference across all the bourbons is age, proof, batch size and positions from the various rickhouses where they are aged.

KS, 101 and Rye about 1200 barrels per bottling.

Rare Breed – 200
Russells -150
13 year – 100 (has a little 15 year in too)
Kentucky Spirit 1 barrel (single)

Invariably, the higher the age and proof the richer, spicier, cinnamon/vanilla/caramel, stone fruits I get, the lower the proof and age it becomes ‘breakfast’ bourbon – creamy, light, sweeter rather than spicy rye, vanilla, cereal sweetness.

Also see this excellent article by Josh Peters, Wild Turkey Distillery: History, Timeline, Mash Bills, Products and more

pointing finger

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