On our way back home from an unforgettable honeymoon in Charleston late last year, my wife and I stopped in Tallahassee for gas. I remembered reading about a great liquor store in the area, Market Square Liquors. We were nearby and decided to take a quick detour. Whenever I travel, I manage to squeeze in a visit to a liquor store or two. I’m glad I did. There was an impressive wall of bourbon and other whiskies. My eye got drawn to a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 Rye. With rye whisky experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, demand is high. Wild Turkey 101 rye got taken off the market for a while. While their 81 proof rye is available in most places, Wild Turkey’s 101 rye whiskey is currently limited to bars. If that’s true, how did Market Square Liquors have several bottles for purchase? Their bar is connected to their retail store and is owned by the same gentleman. Needless to say I snatched up a bottle of WT 101 rye (also picked up a bottle of Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Seasoned Oak Finish.)
Wild Turkey 101 proof rye whiskey is a blend of 4 and 5 year old whiskey stock. On the nose I get primarily vanilla, honey and rye spice. The flavors don’t differ much – lots of rye spice, honey, light caramel and mint. The finish on this is medium and sweet, think honey for the aftertaste.
This is one of the sweeter rye whiskies I’ve tasted. It’s not as sweet as Angel’s Envy Rye. It holds up nicely in one of my favorite cocktails, the sazerac. I hope Wild Turkey’s supply of 101 rye catches up with the demand soon. A liter bottle will run you just north of $30. If you’re in the market for a rye and run across a bottle, snatch it up quickly.
Rare Breed is Wild Turkey at barrel strength. Wild Turkey 101 is already bold enough on it’s own. Is a barrel proof Wild Turkey even necessary? Yes! Any release that can get us as close as possible to what the Master Distillers taste from the barrel is necessary in my opinion. Rare Breed is barrel proof, which means no water added. Different batches vary in proof. This one is 112.8 proof. It is a blend of 6, 8, and 12 year old stocks of Wild Turkey bourbon.
(Wild Turkey’s PR firm provided a review sample) The classic Wild Turkey aromas and flavors are here, albeit in a slightly more concentrated form. On the nose there’s lots of vanilla, caramel, cinnamon spice and brown sugar. Given its high alcohol content, there is a large bite upfront. After it subsides, there’s sweet creamy vanilla, toffee, caramel, cinnamon spice, nutmeg and citrus (orange?). Overall it’s a bit sweeter than Wild Turkey 101. The finish is long and sweet. It really warms your chest.
Do I prefer Rare Breed over Wild Turkey 101? Slightly. WT 101 is a great bourbon that’s budget price ($22). Wild Turkey Rare Breed retails for about $45. There’s more bang for your buck in a bottle of WT 101 than Rare Breed. You’re paying $20+ for about 10 proof points and a smidge more flavor. Is that enough of an upgrade? I think so, but ultimately that’s up to you. Recommended.
My earliest memories of Wild Turkey began in college, when the mere mention of bourbon made people scrunch their faces. I suppose bourbon wasn’t too popular back then. Fast forward several years and I come back to it in the capacity of a bourbon enthusiast.
Wild Turkey is 101 proof. From what I understand, while other bonded bourbons were being released at 100 proof, Wild Turkey tried to best them by one proof point. That “101” on the label really stands out. The company has a long history that can be traced back to 1855. Master Distiller Jimmy Russell has been in the business for 60 years, and his son Eddie is following in his footsteps as Associate Master Distiller. I’ve read Jimmy prefers his bourbon around the 6 year mark, and that’s about what you get with Wild Turkey 101. It’s a blend of 6, 7, and 8 year old bourbons.
On the nose, Wild Turkey 101 gives me lots of caramel, cinnamon, and vanilla. The first sip lets you know it’s bold (partly due to the high proof). This tastes like what I’d consider to be an excellent example of standard bourbon – lots of caramel, a little spice (like nutmeg), some vanilla and a little citrus. The finish is sweet, a little oaky and long. Delicious.
Wild Turkey 101 is an inexpensive delicious bourbon at about $22. I’ve had this neat and I’ve had this in an old fashioned cocktail. Wild Turkey makes an 81 proof bourbon. At a couple of dollars more, I’d suggest you get yourself a bottle of 101. You won’t regret it.