August 16, 2018
Distillery: Wild Turkey
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Aged: ~6 years in virgin white oak barrels
Price: $3 (50mL), $25-30 (750ml)
From the Wild Turkey website:
“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 is Wild Turkey’s higher-proof version of its base bourbon, and one of the more popular ones in the US. From what I understand, Wild Turkey puts their unaged whiskey into the barrels at a lower proof so when it is bottled, only a little water is needed to get it to 50.5%. As a result, this means that Wild Turkey 101 is almost a cask strength bourbon. Is it good? Let’s find out.
Interestingly enough, peppermint spice is the most prominent smell. I’m surprised because the mash is made from only 13% rye, which is quite low. Even so, it still outshines the corn. Underneath the rye, there is light to moderate caramel sweetness and wood that complement the rye. The 51% alcohol is noticeable, but more gentle and subdued than I expected.
Swirling the bourbon releases some grassy and floral notes akin to being out in a field while crops are being cut. Even more swirling reveals light hints of cherry, vanilla, and bubblegum. When the glass is dry, there is a light amount of sweet corn mash, musty wood, and peppermint from the rye.
This smells like a nice, straightforward bourbon, but it doesn’t wow me. This is also a lot more mellow than I would expect from a 50% alcohol bourbon.
Very much like the smell, Wild Turkey 101 tastes decent, but is far from great. Every sip has a mix of light to moderate sweetness, peppermint spice, wood, and alcohol. The sweetness is made up of slightly sweet candy corn, vanilla, and bubblegum. There also are undertones of citrus and something herbal that I can’t quite identify. I would even classify this as a sweeter bourbon, especially because the alcohol is lighter than I expected.
After swallowing, I immediately taste a combination of corn mash (but not sour), wood, and peppermint. The aftertaste fades into light caramel, wood, and peppermint. Peppermint lingers the longest. The alcohol is gentle and pleasant. It’s not a bad way to end the drink.
Again, Wild Turkey 101 tastes like a standard high-rye bourbon, even though its made from a low rye mash. I enjoy sipping it and wouldn’t mind having it at the bar. It’s not special, but that’s not Wild Turkey’s goal with this.
Wild Turkey 101 is a good, but not great, bourbon. At its best, it’s straightforward and drinkable, so it’s appropriate for many situations. It was also significantly more mellow than I expected. It doesn’t require much of my attention, and sometimes that’s all I need. The first time I had this (prior to this review from a different bottle), I was not left with a good impression. The alcohol was very hot on the nose, and the flavors were subdued, but this little bottle has changed my mind.
I enjoyed drinking this and wouldn’t be upset if this was my only option at the bar. I wouldn’t buy this for my personal whiskey shelf, but I would consider it if I needed a good bottle for a party or other event.