Distillery: Wild Turkey
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley
Aged: 8 years
Price: ~$30 for 750mL (in Japan). $9 for this 200mL
From the back of the bottle:
“For more than 60 years, legendary Master Distiller Jimmy Russell has been crafting Wild Turkey 101 the right way. With a high rye content, this iconic bourbon is perfectly aged in American White Oak barrels with the deepest char for more character.”
Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon is popular in the US as an affordable and accessible bourbon, but I honestly think it’s just decent at best. It tastes so young, grainy, and underdeveloped that I can’t get into it or recommend it. I’m on team Evan Williams Bottled in Bond instead. Now that I’m Japan, the good news is that I can easily find Wild Turkey 101 8 Year Bourbon, the 8 year old age-stated version that’s a Japan-only release. For this review, I spent about $9 on a 200mL bottle.
I’m curious if this version is any better, so let’s find out if the added age statement turns this decent bourbon into something better in this Wild Turkey 101 8 Year Bourbon review.
You can also watch the Youtube version here.
Wild Turkey 101 8 Year is actually quite rich with dark roasted caramel, dried grass and nuts, toasted vanilla, fennel, roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, coffee grounds, and very dry apple and orange. The 8 years has given this added darkness, oakiness, sweetness, and overall body that is mostly absent in the NAS US version.
Swirling opens up more caramel, vanilla, a lot of fragrant roasted oak, clove, and nutmeg, then licorice, apple, orange, and just a hint of strawberry. Wild Turkey 101 8 Year is oak and spice-forward with a nice darkness to it that also provides a gentle oaky bite. While this isn’t quite as dense and rich as say Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon, this still smells quite good and wipes away all of the youthful and slightly sour grain that turns me off from the US release. I can get behind this Wild Turkey 101.
Roasted caramel and vanilla lead the way followed by more roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, then lighter cocoa powder, licorice, apple, and orange. Just like the scents, Wild Turkey 101 8 Year’s flavors are roasty, oaky, and spice forward with not too much alcohol bite.
“Chewing” offers a similar experience with roasted caramel, vanilla, dry oak, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, fennel, apple, orange, rosemary, and a little dry grass, nuttiness, and coffee grounds. Mocha comes to mind at times. It’s still oak and caramel forward, but still has a good amount of everything else for balance. There’s also a slight roughness around the edges, but I don’t mind it. Wild Turkey 8 Year 101 is not that complex or layered, but I certainly enjoy drinking it and wish we had this superior version to the fairly nondescript one there is in the US.
The finish has a lot of oak, coffee grounds, cinnamon, and clove followed by lightly burnt caramel, vanilla, apple, orange, fennel, and coffee grounds. It’s a logical oaky and roasty conclusion.
Wild Turkey 8 Year 101 is a drastic improvement over the non-age-stated Wild Turkey 101 that’s in the United States and Japan. Then again, you pay about ~$5 more for the age statement (in Japan at least), but it’s so worth it. Wild Turkey 101 8 Year smells and tastes so more mature, with more fragrant and tasty caramel, roastiness, fruit, oak spice, apple, and orange. The extra oak and spice also create a slight edginess / rowdiness that’s sort of in Wild Turkey Rare Breed, but not Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon. You could even call this Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon Jr.
Especially around ~$28, this is a great pickup as an everyday sipper if you happen to be in Japan. It really isn’t far off from the $80-90 Blanton’s Red either. I’m happy to say that I like really Wild Turkey 101, but only the 8 year version.