Things You Should Know About Wild Turkey
Wild Turkeys roots trace to 1855, when Austin Nichols & Co., a wholesale grocer, set up shop in Lawrenceburg, Ky. That company eventually took over what would become Wild Turkey Bourbon, now one of the top-selling whiskey brands in the country.
Below are 10 more things you should know about Wild Turkey.
Wild Turkey Whiskey Release Dates And Label Changes
To say that Wild Turkey has been prodigious in their whiskey output might be a bit of an understatement. I know there are releases that Ive missed and if you have dates for them let me know and Ill gladly add them in. My hopes for this section is that it gives context to releases and knowing what era different dusty Wild Turkeys come from. Though if you want to get super nerdy about when exactly your bottle of Turkey was bottled check out Rare Bird 101s post on bottle codes.
Actor Matthew Mcconaughey Has Taken His Role As Creative Director Of Wild Turkey A Step Further Announcing The Launch Of His Own Signature Bourbon Made Under The Guidance Of Master Distiller Eddie Russell
The new Wild Turkey bourbon will be released under the name Longbranch, and is a small-batch straight bourbon refined with oak charcoals and Texas mesquite an homage to McConagheys home state.
Made with eight-year-old Wild Turkey bourbon, Wild Turkey Longbranch is bright gold in colour with its an aroma profile of vanilla and spices, with flavours of caramel, pear, and hints of citrus that round out the palate, a release states, and a subtle, smoky finish described as buttery smooth, with notes of gentle pepper and toasted oak.
When we were creating Wild Turkey Longbranch, we talked at length about how to make a product that represents elements of both Texas and Kentucky, said Wild Turkey Master Distiller Eddie Russell. Our goal was to make a straight bourbon whiskey with a soft sweetness that was still unmistakably Wild Turkey. The result was a bourbon that we both truly enjoy drinking neat, and look forward to sharing with others.
Its launch marks the first time Wild Turkey has unveiled a product that bears a signature of someone other than the master distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell, and is the result of an on-going collaboration with Academy Award winning actor McConaughey, who has served as the brands creative director since 2016.
Wild Turkey Longbranch will be available on shelves across the US in May for a suggested retail price of $39.99 and will roll-out to additional markets around the world later this year.
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Distillery History And Timeline
Getting to the brand we know and love today took the merging of three different timelines. One of a family, one of a business and one of a location: location the piece of land that would eventually be called Wild turkey Hill the business a grocer in New York the family French Huguenots who arrived in America via Ireland 106 years before the hunting trip that would give Wild Turkey its name.
Records arent always optimally kept and sources sometimes have conflicting dates, but I did my best to study the location , the business and the people who got us to where we are now. If you have any additional info, with sources, to add let me know and Ill happily include it to the Wild Turkey Timeline below.
Michael Jackson Called It The Clint Eastwood Of Whiskies
In a 2006 Whiskey Magazine review, famed beer and spirits writer Michael Jackson wrote of Wild Turkey 101: A huge whiskey. Put together with style and sophistication, but still with all the robustness of a true bourbon. A classic, of course. A Clint Eastwood of whiskeys. The late Jackson, who is credited with the creation of modern-day whiskey and beer writing, also called the whiskey raisiny, rummy, powerful, and soothing.
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The Actor And Proud Texan Reflects On Whiskey Marketing Music And What Hes Learned As The Kentucky Distillerys Creative Director
f you want to get Matthew McConaughey talking, ask him about whiskey. Describing the difference between a six- and eight-year, or how to bring a storied distillery to a new demographic, he waxes poetic.
Every story has three acts. The sip, the bourbon takes the entrance through the mouth, and then down the back, tells Forbes. Thats three acts on the journey before you swallow it.
The Academy Award-winning actor has been busy. In the past 18 months, McConaughey has published a memoir, starred in the animated film Sing 2 and even toyed with a gubernatorial run in his home state of Texas. But for the past five years, he has also been immersed in Kentuckys most famous export: bourbon.
Since 2016, McConaughey has been spokesperson and creative director for Wild Turkey, working with the Campari-owned whiskey to writeand of course star ina wide variety of ads. Hes also appeared in plenty of other marketing efforts including virtual bourbon tastings, a Thanksgiving dinner for bartenders in London and, just last month, a partnership with Australian camping company Homecamp to raise money for brushfire recovery. Earlier on in his tenure, McConaughey even collaborated with Wild Turkeys master distillers to make his own whiskey, which he affectionately refers to as the juice.
Were peddling bourbon. This is not overly serious. It should be funWe dont want to take you to class.
Is Wild Turkey A Good Whiskey
It is a perfect storm when high proof, a great price, and great flavor combine to create Wild Turkey 101. Aside from its high proof, it has great flavor balance, an attribute that budget bourbons cannot always boast of. This bourbon makes a fantastic mixer because its above-average proof and at a good price.
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Wild Turkey Has Two Master Distillers
At the helm of Wild Turkey Distillery are father-and-son duo Jimmy and Eddie Russell. Jimmy Russell is the worlds longest-tenured master distiller, having worked at the distillery since 1954. His son Eddie Russell earned the master distiller title in 2015, after working up the ranks for 35 years. Both Russells are members of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
The Strongest Wild Turkey Bourbon
The Wild Turkey Rarebreed is the strongest wild turkey bourbon. It has a high alcohol content of 112.8 proof . Bottled in cask strength, this rare breed can hold itself to ice and splash of water. Its like drinking straight from the cask.
It is made from 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. The rare breed is a 6, 8, and 12-year blend.
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It Was French For 29 Years And Now Its Part Italian
In 1980, Wild Turkeys original owner Austin Nichols & Co. sold to French spirits conglomerate Pernod Ricard for a reported $100 million. In 2009, the distillery changed hands again, when Italys Gruppo Campari purchased the distillery for a cool $575 million.
Campari, which still owns Wild Turkey today, is credited with bringing the whiskey brand back to life. Wild Turkey Bourbon is now the groups third-largest brand, after its own Campari aperitif and subsidiary Skyy vodka.
Wild Turkey Was Named After A Hunting Expedition
According to company lore, Wild Turkey got its name after a hunting expedition. A distillery executive named Thomas McCarthy brought some whiskey samples from then-owner Austin Nichols & Co. on a wild turkey hunt. His companions liked it so much that the next year they asked him to bring some of that Wild Turkey bourbon and the nickname became a famous brand, The Guardian reports.
The product lineup today includes Wild Turkey Bourbon, Wild Turkey Bourbon 101, Wild Turkey Rye, Wild Turkey Rye 101, and several reserve bottles.
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Wild Turkey Bourbon And Skyy Vodka Are Bottle Buddies
Skyy vodka is packaged and shipped from the Wild Turkey bottling plant in Lawrenceburg, Ky. Its transported there from the vodkas Illinois production facility. Whiskey and vodka dont mix, of course, so the packaging is entirely separate. A Wild Turkey bourbon in Skyys signature blue bottle would be one strange bird.
How To Drink Wild Turkey Bourbon
Bourbon is a sipping whiskey. It is somewhat versatile and other bourbons might be easier to sip on than Turkey. You can drink this bourbon on the rocks, in a shot, or mix it with your favorite cocktails.
If youre doing shots of Wild Turkey, I suggest you allow it to chill slightly for the full effect.
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Kentucky River Fish Kill
On May 9, 2000, a seven-story warehouse in Anderson County, Kentucky was destroyed in a fire, spilling the contents of thousands of gallons of the company’s whiskey aging barrels into the Kentucky River. The alcohol spills killed hundreds of thousands of fish along a 66 mile stretch of the river. The company paid $256,000 to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife in an effort to restore the fish population in the river.
Wild Turkey Has A Lot Of Nicknames Too
Since getting its official name in 1940, Wild Turkey has earned several nicknames. These include The Dirty Bird, The Screaming Eagle, and The Kickin Chicken. The whiskey is also a pop culture icon, counting references in films, songs, and even the 1990s vampire classic television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
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Continuing Innovation: Today’s Wild Turkey
With Campari’s purchase of Wild Turkey in 2011, the Russells got a breath of fresh air, new capital and a brand-new distillery. And now, at over 100 years of combined experience, the future is bright, not only for the Russells, but also for whiskey drinkers everywhere.
In 2000, Wild Turkey released the first batch of Russells Reserve Bourbon to commemorate Jimmys 45 years of service. It was originally called Wild Turkey Russells Reserve, and was bottled at 101 proof. Jimmy did not actually like the name at first! It made him the only Master Distiller to have his own name on a product at the time. He would eventually warm up to the idea, realizing that it would be a legacy project that he could hand over to his son.
In 2007, Russells Reserve Rye was added to the lineup as well. Today, both the Russells Reserve Bourbon and the Rye come in Small Batch bottled at 90 proof and Single Barrel at 110 proof bottlings.
The Small Batch Bourbon is age stated at 10 years, meaning the youngest whiskey in the batch is a minimum of 10 years, with some of it probably being older. The Rye is stated at 6 years. In a whiskey world where age statements are either warranting a super-premium price or just going away altogether, the Russells Reserve line provides great quality, availability, and, most importantly, affordability. These are true gems that every whiskey drinker, from the novice to the expert, should have on their bar.
Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival Rating
I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. Im proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.
Shattered glass really sucks, so if youre on the move, this Glencairn-like stainless steel snifter glass should survive your travels. Full transparency, this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.
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Wild Turkey Masters Keep Revival
This whiskey, aged 12 to 15 years, is made from a blend of Wild Turkey Straight Bourbon. Its then finished in 30-year-old Oloroso sherry casks. This results in a creamy mouthfeel of sweet tropical fruits, vanilla, and oak flavors. It has a long and lingering strong oak and spice finish.
We like the balance and complexity created from a blend of fruity flavor profile and high-aged whiskey, mixed with a gentle barrel finish.
It Once Offered A Full
In November 2012, in preparation for the annual pre-Thanksgiving presidential pardoning of a turkey , Wild Turkey master distiller Jimmy Russell reportedly wrote a letter to then-President Barack Obama requesting the spared turkey be sent to join the Wild Turkey staff as its spokesbird.
In our humble opinion, there is no better place for this years Presidentially-pardoned bird to live out its golden years than the Wild Turkey Distillery grounds in central Kentucky, Russell said in a statement. There really is no bird more undeniably American than the turkey.
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Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Single Barrel
Its one of the first single-barrel form bourbons from the brand. It is bottled at the peak of its maturity in single barrels with the barrel number written on the label. The warehouse number and date are written on there, too.
Full-bodied with rich vanilla flavors and notes of smooth caramel, fruit, and rye spice, this Kentucky spirit is best enjoyed neat. It has surprisingly rich and complex flavors even for its 101 proof.
Whiskey Review: Wild Turkey American Honey
Theres a current trend of flavored liqueur being made from bourbon. In some cases, the results are pretty good but, on the whole, they mainly seem to be trying to follow in Fireballs footsteps to capture that same market. American Honey is Wild Turkeys take on the category, so today were giving it a spin to see how it stacks up not only against its flavored liqueur peers, but against its bourbon origins as well.
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Distilling A Brandand How To Market It
Despite the modern advertising, Wild Turkey has plenty of history. Founded by Thomas Riply in 1891, the distillery has changed owners several times since the Prohibition Era. Jimmy Russell became the third distiller in 1954, decades before his son, Eddie Russell, joined in 1981 as a relief operator. In 2000, Jimmy Russell was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, and people familiar with the whiskey world consider the Russell family as bourbon royalty.
But until recently, no one knew the master distillers, says Eddie Russell. I remember just going to liquor stores and signing bottles and trying to tell our story. And thats the way it went for several years.
Some of the brands earlier marketing ruffled some feathers. In 2011two years after Gruppo Campari acquired Wild Turkey from Pernod for $575 millionit ran a controversial campaign called Give em the Bird, featuring a middle finger on its website and social media, as well as other content that led to a complaint filed with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. The trade body decided the ad violated its ethics code, and Wild Turkey withdrew the campaign.
It got peoples attention, but wasnt a great marketing campaign, Russell admits.
Matthew McConaughey on the set of a 2018 commercial shoot for Wild Turkey bourbon.
The biggest change in the bourbon category over the past few years has been the appetite for knowledge, according to Combs.
Wild Turkey Vs Jack Daniels
Wild Turkey and Jack Daniels are two distinctly American brands familiar with newcomers to the American whiskey category and ardent whiskey drinkers alike. While both are popular choices at pubs and taverns across the United States, most seasoned bourbon drinkers have their favorite.
In this point, well help you understand the pros and cons of each and how a charcoal mellowing process and other production methods used by the respective teams of whiskey makers affect the finished product. Well explain why your taste buds perceive each spirit differently when poured straight in a glass or used as the main ingredient in bourbon cocktails so that you can make an informed decision the next time youre ordering at the bar or picking up a bottle from your favorite whiskey shop.
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Is Wild Turkey A Rye Whiskey
The Wild Turkey Straight Rye Whiskey has a proof of 81 . This whiskey is a tribute to Americas first distilled spirit: rye whiskey, which is 5% alcohol. Big vanilla notes and spice notes envelop the bold taste of the rye without changing it. Whether mixed with water, mixers, or in cocktails, Wild Turkey Rye stands up strongly.
The Complete Guide To Wild Turkey Whiskey: Important Bottles And History Explained
From 101 to Master’s Keep, here’s everything you need to know about Wild Turkey, one of America’s most cherished whiskey makers.
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Wild Turkey isn’t the most divisive whiskey maker in the U.S., but collective perception of the brand might be least unified. Depending on who you ask, it’s college kid whiskey something cheap and good swirled together in a tub with god knows what else. It’s also a collector’s whiskey, but not because it’s joined the industry-wide conga line of pushing old, pricey and very limited bottles annually its Turkey’s bottles from the ’80s and early ’90s that sell for hundreds of dollars in whiskey’s grey markets. Still, some may know it likely for its 101 expression as the standard bearer for well-made, well-priced American bourbon without the fuss brought on by the 2010s. But that’s not how new bourbon enthusiasts that congregate on Instagram, /r/bourbon and private Facebook groups view them they’d point to Wild Turkey’s exceptional single barrel offerings as the brand’s calling card.
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