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Wild Turkey 101 vs Elijah Craig Small Batch Comparison

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There are a lot of bourbons in the $20-30 range, often considered budget or affordable. And while “budget” is a subjective term that is different for everyone, many often claim that Wild Turkey 101 is the “best” budget bourbon out there. For the sake of continuing on my journey to find out the best affordable bourbons out there (in my opinion), I want to pit Wild Turkey 101 against Elijah Craig Small Batch.

I want to compare Wild Turkey 101 to the slightly more expensive Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon because I think Elijah Craig Small Batch is one of the best bourbons under $30 (prices will vary depending on where you live). People love to shower praise on Wild Turkey 101, but it seems to me that Elijah Craig is underrated and underappreciated.

For full disclosure, I already have reviewed both bourbons individually, and on rating alone Elijah Craig is the better bourbon. In head to head comparisons, Elijah Craig has fared well with Buffalo Trace and surpassed Gentleman Jack. None of that matters really here because direct head to head comparisons can be quite revealing. Admittedly, this isn’t a blind comparison, but there’s still a lot to learn from this.

I also should mention that the Wild Turkey 101 in this comparison is not the one I reviewed before. I reviewed a 50mL sample bottle before, while the one I have this time is a 375mL bottle from batch LL/GH. I guess it doesn’t really affect the comparison in any way, but I wanted to also be transparent about that fact.

Alright, I’m putting on my hat of objectivity, so let’s find out which bourbon I prefer in this Wild Turkey 101 vs Elijah Craig Small Batch comparison.

The below table outlines key facts and figures for each bourbon.

WT 101 vs Elijah Craig Small Batch comparison table website
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As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for everything (they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass Set of 6, Set of 4Set of 2, or just one. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

How Do Wild Turkey 101 and Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon Compare?

WT 101 vs Elijah Craig Small Batch radar
WT 101 vs Elijah Craig Small Batch traits table website
WT 101 vs Elijah Craig Small Batch radar
WT 101 vs Elijah Craig Small Batch traits table website
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If you’re on the move, this Glencairn-like stainless steel snifter glass should survive your travels. Shattered glass Glencairn’s really suck. Full transparency, this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)

And the winner is...

Gentleman Jack vs Elijah Craig Small Batch winner

It’s not close at all. Elijah Craig is far better than Wild Turkey 101. Elijah Craig Small Batch is so much more rich and layered with roasted sugars, fruits, oak, and spice that continually evolve and generally hold my attention. It’s just a strong sub-$30 bourbon that you should consider as your daily drinker. The 8-12 year old single barrels are also great options.

Wild Turkey 101 is pleasant enough to drink, but it’s not particularly interesting or compelling. It just smells and tastes young, thin, and underdeveloped. The graininess and thinness (even at 101 proof) really gives away that it’s young. The minimal fruitiness also doesn’t help. Sure, it’s not expensive, but you can do so much better at around the same price.

I know that many claim that Wild Turkey 101 is the “best” daily sipper, but I truly think that Elijah Craig Small BatchEvan Williams Bottled and Bond, and Knob Creek Small Batch 9 Year are better options and comparably priced. I’ve drank Wild Turkey 101 a number of times and just don’t get the allure, even for the price. I have nothing against Wild Turkey, because Rare Breed Bourbon and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel are some of my personal favorites. Wild Turkey 101…just isn’t that great. 

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is usually $5-10 cheaper than Wild Turkey 101, so you can pay less and in my opinion upgrade to a better bourbon for sipping and mixing. Or, you can pay a few dollars more and get Elijah Craig Small Batch, the clear winner of this Wild Turkey 101 vs Elijah Craig Small Batch comparison.

Seriously…if you haven’t tried Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon yet…do yourself a favor and try it. It’s not hard to find.

Gentleman Jack vs Elijah Craig Small Batch winner

It’s not close at all. Elijah Craig is far better than Wild Turkey 101. Elijah Craig Small Batch is so much more rich and layered with roasted sugars, fruits, oak, and spice that continually evolve and generally hold my attention. It’s just a strong sub-$30 bourbon that you should consider as your daily drinker. The 8-12 year old single barrels are also great options.

Wild Turkey 101 is pleasant enough to drink, but it’s not particularly interesting or compelling. It just smells and tastes young, thin, and underdeveloped. The graininess and thinness (even at 101 proof) really gives away that it’s young. The minimal fruitiness also doesn’t help. Sure, it’s not expensive, but you can do so much better at around the same price.

I know that many claim that Wild Turkey 101 is the “best” daily sipper, but I truly think that Elijah Craig Small BatchEvan Williams Bottled and Bond, and Knob Creek Small Batch 9 Year are better options and comparably priced. I’ve drank Wild Turkey 101 a number of times and just don’t get the allure, even for the price. I have nothing against Wild Turkey, because Rare Breed Bourbon and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel are some of my personal favorites. Wild Turkey 101 just isn’t that great even for $25. 

Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is usually $5-10 cheaper than Wild Turkey 101, so you can pay less and in my opinion upgrade to a better bourbon for sipping and mixing. Or, you can pay a few dollars more and get Elijah Craig Small Batch, the clear winner of this Wild Turkey 101 vs Elijah Craig Small Batch comparison.

Seriously…if you haven’t tried Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon yet…do yourself a favor and try it. It’s not hard to find.

Alex author

Meet the Author: Alex

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. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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