Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey 101 "Real Kentucky" straight bourbon whiskey is the flagship brand in the Wild Turkey Bourbon portfolio. It is as American as baseball and apple pie. John Rambo drank it in First Blood, Part II. Uncle Eddie drank it in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Raoul Duke drank it in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It is easy to find, it is inexpensive, and it is damn good bourbon.

As a resident of South Carolina, I must reiterate the story of how "the whiskey made at Ripy distillery" became Wild Turkey. In 1940, Thomas McCarthy, an Austin, Nichols executive, brought a sample of undiluted 101 proof whiskey from the warehouse on an annual hunting trip on a friend's property in South Carolina. An Avid sportsman, Mr. McCarthy and his friends gathered each year to hunt wild turkeys. The following year, his friends insisted he bring more of "that wild turkey bourbon" and the brand name was born.

For the last 60 years, master distiller Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie have overseen the Wild Turkey brand, and they have ensured high quality despite lack of consumer interest in the 1970s and 1980s and a negative image through the 1990s (akin to Four Roses). Wild Turkey should be a staple in anyone's liquor cabinet, not just because it is cheap but because it is great.

Wild Turkey 101

Austin, Nichols Distilling Co./Wild Turkey/Campari
101 proof
$9/pint at Green's Beverages in Columbia, SC

Color: Medium amber/golden

Nose: Vanilla and honey, citrus zest, freshly mown grass, light oak character, corn and alcohol

Tasting Notes: Pow.  A heavy dose of spice right up front rounded out by syrupy, honey sweetness.  There is an undeniable butterscotch flavor, which is balanced by a light oak and cinnamon candy bite.  The finish is long and dry and woody.

Overall: B+.  Wild Turkey 101 is the Budweiser Heavy of bourbon.  I'd bring it to a tailgate.  I enjoy drinking it neat, but NO ONE is going to furl a brow if I drop a bunch of ice cubes into it.  It's strong and American and awesome and I paid $9.99 for a pint of it.  It is possible that homeless bourbon drinkers like Wild Turkey 101, but I bet you most bourbon snobs have some squirreled away too. 

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