Review: Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival Bourbon

Wild Turkey has been on my radar in recent years. Frankly, they’ve been kicking @$$ and taking names.  Russell’s Reserve 1998 and 2002 were beautiful examples of prime Wild Turkey bourbon.  Their core range has been consistently solid.  Then there were first two magnificent Master’s Keep releases – the 17-year-old and Decades.

With Revival, Master Distiller Eddie Russell is moving forward by looking back. Years back, Jimmy Russell released the 10-year-old Signature Sherry. It certainly made an impression on Eddie, who told me that he used the profile Signature Sherry as a reference.  However, he wanted use bourbon that was older than a decade.

Revival is a batch of 12 to 15-year-old Wild Turkey finished in Oloroso sherry casks.  We’re not talking sherry-seasoned casks, currently used by the Scotch whisky industry.  Old sherry casks are hard to come by these days.  Eddie himself went to Spain looking for casks that were at least 20 years old and thankfully, he found a few.  Wild Turkey has not disclosed how long the finishing period lasted, but I’d guess a few months.  Revival is bottled at 101 proof and available for the suggested retail price of $149.99.  Only 1,600 cases were produced, so there’s not a lot to go around.

I generally don’t comment on color, but those sherry casks imparted a beautiful reddish-copper hue to this whiskey.  The aromatic nose is fruit forward, with hints of cherries, citrus, and raisins.  A bit of rye spice and toffee come in with a little time in the glass, as well as a sprinkling of fresh herbs.   Taste-wise, Revival is a wonderful balance of fruit and spice.  Sherried fruit hits the tongue first, followed by a wave of dark toffee, baking spices, orange peel, and toasted oak.  Wild Turkey uses a decent amount of rye grain in their mash bill, and it imparts a buttered, toasted rye bread note.  The finish is long and chest-warming, with lingering notes of dried fruits, oak spice, and leather.

Eddie Russell has done it again.  He’s crafted a lavish bourbon that moves the flavor spectrum in new directions while staying true to the Wild Turkey DNA.  The chosen sherry casks pair beautifully with Wild Turkey’s flavor profile.  This is a full-bodied whiskey, coating the palate with rich, fruity notes complemented by the signature Wild Turkey spice.  Master’s Keep Revival is a sumptuous bourbon that any fan of whiskey will thoroughly enjoy.  I know I did.  9/10

Thanks to Wild Turkey for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Review: Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Bourbon

This fall, Heaven Hill is releasing a 27-year-old barrel proof bourbon. This would be the oldest bourbon I’ve tasted. That title was previously held by Orphan Barrel’s 26-year-old Old Blowhard.

The one-time release was distilled in 1989 and 1990 at the Old Heaven Hills Springs Distillery. For this bottling, 41 barrels were batched together. Thirty-six of those barrels came from the first and second floors. Maturation on lower floors of a warehouse is generally slower than barrels aging on the top floors. Temperature swings aren’t as varied on the lower floors.

The 41 barrels yielded less than 3,000 bottles. The angels took more than their fair share. After 27 years, those barrels didn’t have much whiskey in them. The proof after batching came to 94.7, or 47.35% abv.

After a few minutes of airtime, the nose is quite fragrant with hints of dark toffee, cloves,  dried fruit, and leather.  There’s a kind of dusty quality that develops, but it’s ever so slight.  On the palate, there’s an initial burst of dark chocolate-covered cherries.  Hints of slightly burned caramel, vanilla bean, and dried fruit soon develop, giving way to old oak, leather and spice – notably cloves and nutmeg.  I love the development of flavors on the palate.  The long finish is dry, with lingering notes of dried fruit and oak spice.

I’m quite surprised this bourbon isn’t over-oaked.  At 27 years old, there’s obviously a soft bed of old oak on which all other flavors play on, but the overall flavor profile is not dominated by oak. The folks at Heaven Hill certainly know how to craft an ultra-aged whiskey.   At an SRP of $399 a bottle, Heaven Hill 27-year-old bourbon isn’t a whiskey to shoot or rush through.  This old bourbon is elegant and requires your attention as you nose and taste it.  I hope to have the chance to buy a bottle when it’s released.  This is a must-have for fans of older whiskey.  9/10

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Review: Booker’s Bourbon Batch 2018-02 (Backyard BBQ)


Summertime is synonymous with BBQ.  Former Jim Beam Master Distiller Booker Noe used to hold giant BBQs at his Bardstown, KY house, dubbing them “bourbon-ques.”  With that in mind, the second batch of Booker’s for 2018 is aptly named “Backyard BBQ.”

The barrel strength bourbon comes in at 64.4% ABV, or 128.8 proof.  The youngest barrels in the batch are 6 years, 2 months, and 10 days old.  Barrels were pulled from six locations in three different 9-story warehouses, broken down as follows:

  • 4% from warehouse E, 4th floor
  • 29% from warehouse E, 5th floor
  • 10% from warehouse E, 7th floor
  • 8% from warehouse J, 5th floor
  • 32% from warehouse I, 6th floor
  • 17% from warehouse I, 7th floor

I love the disclosure of this kind of information, especially from a company as large as Beam-Suntory.  But the important thing is how the whiskey tastes…

On the nose, a slight departure from the “classic” Booker’s profile finds maple syrup instead of vanilla as the dominant aroma.  This is still Booker’s through and through, with hints of vanilla, toasted oak, peanut butter and a touch of fresh herbs.  Slightly overcooked caramel kicks things off on the front palate, followed closely by vanilla custard and some spice. This is the point where that high proof shows its cards – a full mouthfeel and a bit of a kick.  You’re definitely in flavor town here (a Guy Fieri reference – was that really necessary?). The mid-palate brings hints of grilled corn and cigar box, with cedar shavings following.  The long finish is chest-warming, which is always welcome.  Acid reflux be damned!  Bittersweet caramel and barrel char linger.

This batch of Booker’s slightly leans towards the sweet side compared to previous batches.  It’s a welcome quality knowing it still fits under the brand’s flavor profile.  “Backyard BBQ” featured less of a corn note and more caramels, meaning it could pair nicely with BBQ ribs, or a smoked brisket, perhaps.  All in all, it’s tasty – and I wouldn’t expect anything else from Booker’s. 8/10

Thanks to Booker’s Bourbon for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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