In the very beginning, there was a man by the name of Austin Nichols who began selling wine and spirits as a wholesale grocer in 1855. His company would later own the Wild Turkey brand. Around 1869, Wild Turkey distillery as we know today was founded by the Ripy Brothers. Their family came to United States from Tyrone County, Ireland to settle a plot of land in the renamed community of Tyrone, Kentucky. They built their operation on the grounds of an older distillery in the area. Their business grew for many years until Prohibition was enacted in 1919. During this time, the distillery remained open only producing a moderate amount of medicinal whiskey. The business struggled for survival up to the repeal of Prohibition. Several years after the repeal, Austin Nichols & Company left the wholesale grocery business to focus on wine and spirits in 1939.
This leads us to the most famous story of the brand’s origin. The story came from an Austin Nichols executive around 1940. While on an annual wild turkey hunting trip with friends he shared some samples of his bourbon. The bourbon proved very popular among friends and they continued to ask for more of that “wild turkey bourbon”. Austin Nichols started bottling under the Wild Turkey brand in 1942. The distillery changed hands around 1949 from the Ripy brothers to the Gould brothers who continued to produce fine whiskey that was largely sold to Austin Nichols & Company. For more than three decades Austin Nichols remained a non-distiller producer (NDP). Until in 1971, they purchased the distillery outright and renamed it the Wild Turkey Distillery. Several years later, Pernod Ricard acquired the Wild Turkey brand and distillery in 1980. Fast forward to 2009, the brand and distillery were acquired again by the Campari Group who continue to steward the brand today.
Wild Turkey has a history and tradition that not a lot of distillery’s have. A large part of that tradition lies with one person in particular. That individual is Mr. Jimmy Russell. He truly is a treasure to the bourbon industry. If you listen to him, he’ll say that he’s made bourbon his way for over 60 years. And that is the honest truth. Wild Turkey never wavered from their ideology on how bourbon whiskey should be made. During the great bourbon glut of the late 60’s to the mid 80’s, Wild Turkey never produced anything that could be considered a light whiskey. That was not something that interested Jimmy. He believes in the pure, rich flavor that comes from bourbon produced his way. There cannot be enough appreciation shown to the man who has done so much for American whiskey to be where it is today.
Wild Turkey Masters Keep: Decades Bourbon
Origin: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
Distiller: Wild Turkey Distillery, Lawrenceburg, KY
Mashbill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Barley
Cask: New charred American White Oak
Age: A blend of 10 to 20 year bourbon
ABV/Proof: 52%/ 104 Proof
Price: Varies by Region (Picked up locally for $150.00)
Wild Turkey Masters Keep: Decades Bourbon Review
Color: Dark Amber
Nose/Aroma: Initially I get a nutty/cereal note followed by spice, oak/old wood, cinnamon, dark fruits, and caramel. It is a soft and refined nose. I had trouble detecting flavors initially that I had to go back to it later.
Palate/Body: Dark Fruit, Vanilla, Caramel, Cinnamon. The dominating characteristics switch from initial sip to the end from sweet and youthful to heavier old oak and spice. The palate is characteristically Wild Turkey. Medium Body.
Finish: Long finish for me with with Spice, Oak, Dark fruit.
Overall: I enjoyed this expression from Wild Turkey. Honestly, I love their flavor profile on a regular basis. Wild Turkey 101 is a go to daily expression. There is a character in their expressions that is not replicated anywhere else. This really is an interesting whiskey with the combination of aged stock. You taste the younger more youthful whiskey and right after come the characteristics of fine aged whiskey. I don’t have too many older aged whiskey’s in my collection. I’m happy to have this around for special days, events or whenever I feel like it. I originally purchased it for my brother’s recent trip into town. He was already being kind enough to bring me a few bottles from up north. I had to grab something we could both enjoy that would expand our palettes.
Have you had this particular expression? What did you think? Leave a comment below!
Or, do have a favorite Wild Turkey release from the past? Mention in the comments below!
Drink well friends! 🥃👍