wild turkey 13 year father and son review

Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son (Export-only)

Wild Turkey 13 father and son

Distillery: Wild Turkey

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 43%

Composition: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley

Aged: 13 years

Color: 1.2/2.0 on the color scale (chestnut, oloroso sherry)

Price: $70-80 (1 liter)

From the back of the bottle:

“This limited edition, rare 13 year old bourbon has been born from a unique collaboration of father and son Master Distillers, Jimmy & Eddie Russel. Together, these two have over 100 years of combined experience making high quality bourbon – a true dedication to this artisanal craft. Jimmy & Eddie are the only active father & son duo of Bourbon Master Distillers in the world.”

Distillery: Wild Turkey

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 43%

Composition: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley

Aged: 13 years

Color: 1.2/2.0 on the color scale (chestnut, oloroso sherry)

Price: $70-80 (1 liter)

From the back of the bottle:

“This limited edition, rare 13 year old bourbon has been born from a unique collaboration of father and son Master Distillers, Jimmy & Eddie Russel. Together, these two have over 100 years of combined experience making high quality bourbon – a true dedication to this artisanal craft. Jimmy & Eddie are the only active father & son duo of Bourbon Master Distillers in the world.”

wild turkey 13 year father and son overview

In late 2020, Wild Turkey released Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son Bourbon, a 1L export-only release of yet another extra-aged Wild Turkey bourbon (the other one being Wild Turkey 13 Year Distiller’s Reserve). First off, this means that this bourbon wasn’t released in the US, although you can occasionally find it at duty-free, at a US retailer who acquired it from abroad, or from a European retailer who may ship to you.

This also means that it’s going to be tough for most Americans to get a bottle, especially when world travel has been minimal to non-existent because of Covid. Still, if there’s a will there’s a way to get a bottle.

I’m not much of a bourbon historian, mostly just a guy who’s likes drinking whiskey, so all I can really tell you is that 13 year old Wild Turkey Bourbon is pretty exciting stuff, especially when the only other older releases you can find today are the 13 year old Distiller’s Reserve (Japan-only), the limited Master’s Keep bourbons, and more recently Russell’s Reserve 13 Year Barrel Proof. Let’s find out if this Wild Turkey limited release is worth chasing in this Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son Bourbon review. 

As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for my reviews and comparisons (because they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass, Set of 6, Clear, 6 Pack. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

wild turkey 13 year father and son smell

Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son is very roasty, oaky, dry, and nutty up front followed by caramel, honey, fennel, licorice, dried apple and berries, peach, green apple, coffee grounds, cinnamon, and tobacco.

 As fragrantly roasty as this is (and it it’s very roasty), this bourbon also has a more vibrant fruitiness and herbal floralness that gives it great balance and range. It very much smells like a great 13 year old bourbon, but I really with it were more dense because it’s too watered-down for me.

Swirling (and probably my nose adjusting to everything), brings out more of the sweet, floral, and herbal qualities – emphasizing floral honey, vanilla, licorice, fennel, toasted vanilla, orange, peach and strawberry. Then comes the roasted oak, coffee grounds, dried grass, tobacco, and cinnamon.

 The older age brings a nice and enjoyable fragrance and vibrance on top of the quite herbal and fruity scents, but doesn’t come on too strong and burnt to overpower everything else.

It’s quite an interesting dance between sweet, fruit, oak, and spice, I Just wish this had a higher ABV. It truly would have been incredible at 50+% ABV.

wild turkey 13 year father and son taste and aftertaste

Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son Bourbon has really nice roasted honey, roasted oak, vanilla marshmallows, dark chocolate, fennel, licorice, green apple, dried orange, peach, cinnamon, and nutmeg with just a little tip of alcohol on my tongue. 

This is an oak and roasty-forward bourbon that still has very nice balance across the board, in part because it’s not a dark and heavily burnt oak. Unfortunately, the flavors are more dull than I would like.

“Chewing” brings quite flavorful caramel, roasted vanilla, fennel, licorice, red apple, roasted oak, strawberry, orange, peach, pineapple, tobacco, cinnamon, and clove. It hits a wide range of flavors that are quite oaky, floral, fruity, and herbal all at the same time, with a nicely viscous mouthfeel, although the flavors lack the same density because of the lower ABV.

The finish is lightly roasty and herbal with roasted oak, honey, licorice, fennel, coffee grounds, peach, and orange. It all fades away nicely into gentle and pleasant fruit and tobacco.

 After “chewing” I still get a lot of oak and overall roastiness, followed by honey, licorice, vanilla, cinnamon, apple, coffee grounds, pineapple, and this overarching floralness. This Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son leaves a long lasting and delicious roasty, herbal, and floral quality that’s so good and becomes even more pineapple-y over time.  

Even with the criminally low ABV that puts a low ceiling on how great this bourbon could have been (I’m beating a dead horse aren’t I?), there’s still an overarching and engaging vibrance and floralness. For better or worse, this is very drinkable and approachable, although not quite exceptional for me.

Place on the Whiskey Shelf

Mid shelf+

Jimmy and Eddie Russell did a great job creating Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son Bourbon, but why on earth would they choose 43% ABV? It’s so close to “Top Shelf” that it pains me not to give it that rating. 

They took a great bourbon (and I can tell it from what I’ve smelled and tasted) and drowned it in water. It makes me sad to think about how great this could have been…but I guess they didn’t want to steal the thunder from Russell’s Reserve 13 Year Bourbon.

A higher ABV really would have launched Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son into the stratosphere of truly impeccable bourbon. Maybe they thought that the export market wanted a lower proof release that could be more easily enjoyed instead of appeasing overly-critical whiskey bloggers like myself. 

Still, Wild Turkey 13 Year Bourbon Father and Son is satisfying as-is and I’m still able to pick up on the dance between oaky, roasty, sweet, fruity, herbal, floral, and spicy traits that mostly keep my interest. As old as it is, it still has a very present, pleasant, and unexpected herbal fruitiness and brightness.

Deep down, I really want to give this a “Top Shelf” rating because it is so close, but the ABV is a just a killer that will always bring up shoulda-woulda-coulda thoughts on how great it could have been. If anything, this reminds me a lot of Blanton’s Red in how herbal and bright it is while still having a dark, roasty, and earthy side.

As always, the final question is about value and whether should you buy one if you have the chance. Here’s my answer – sure it’s a good buy at around $70 given the age and novelty, but it’s does not qualify as a worthy $100+ bourbon for me solely based on scent and flavor. Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son Bourbon is a nearly great bourbon with so much missed potential, a lot like Woodford Reserve Very Fine Rare Bourbon.

I also compared Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son to Wild Turkey 13 Year Distiller’s Reserve, another export-only 13 year old Wild Turkey, to find out how similar / different they are. Check it out!

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