Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon Review
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon
Distillery: Wild Turkey
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley
Aged: NAS, but known to be a blend of 6-12 year old bourbon
Price: $45 (export only)
From the box:
“…the true, bold spirit of Wild Turkey shines in this Rare Breed Non Chill-Filtered (NCF) Barrel Proof, bottled at a higher strength to deliver its intense true character. Rare Breed Non Chill-Filtered is an uncompromised Kentucky Bourbon with tones of sweet tobacco and hints of orange and mint, making it a remarkably bold, genuine, and true whiskey legend. Travel Exclusive.”
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon overview
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon – you know it and maybe even enjoy it. One of the biggest qualms about Rare Breed though is that it’s chill-filtered, meaning that the whiskey cooled and filtered to remove oils and other components inherent in the whiskey, which can affect the end scents and flavors. It’s not the same as filtering out the oak bits so you don’t accidentally swallow them, which would be unpleasant. Chill filtration is a bit controversial because some people swear that it takes away from the end whiskey. I’m in the “I don’t really care” camp, but it’s a nice to have.
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon isn’t chill filtered, and I’m guessing that Master’s Keep releases aren’t as well, so I’m not sure why Wild Turkey does it with Rare Breed Bourbon. But if you’ve been yearning for a non chill-filtered version, wait no more because now there’s Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon Non Chill Filtered…but it’s only sold outside the US. Wait…huh…why? The whole export-only thing is a huge letdown for most living in the US.
Wild Turkey has a habit of releasing bourbon only outside the US, including Wild Turkey 13 Year Father and Son, 13 Year Distiller’s Reserve, 8 Year 101, and now this. Then again, the US gets Russell’s Reserve 13 Year, which I hear is amazing. Still, it’s a bit of a strange move since it should be the same Rare Breed minus that added filtration step, which I would think makes it easier to make. I wonder if it’s because Wild Turkey doesn’t want to stock 2 separate Rare Breed Bourbons in the US, which could stress their bourbon stocks for other things. Just my personal speculation.
Just like the 13 Year Father and Son, another international-exclusive, this non chill filtered version comes in a 1L bottle. I got it shipped to me from a Japanese retailer (to an address in Japan) for $46, which is superb. Let’s go searching for some unfiltered oils and other bits in this Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon review.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon smell
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered starts off dark and spicy with dark honey and lightly toasted caramel, cinnamon, dry orange, toasted bread, cinnamon bun, raisins, peach, vanilla, licorice, baked apple, cherry, roasted oak, clove, and rosemary. It’s quite cinnamon-y and roasty with hints of dark fruit, which I guess explains why I get lightly vanilla-frosted cinnamon bun.
There’s also this unexpected earthiness, but I wonder if that’s coming from the oaky char and less so the rye. And unsurprisingly, there’s a bit of nose-singing bite with the occasional stronger zing. Ah, this still smells like Wild Turkey Rare Breed, which is great. At the same time, this doesn’t seem like a massive shift from the usual experience, which also isn’t necessarily bad either. Let me remind you that I’m doing this review in isolation, so I did not pour a glass of chill-filtered Rare Breed Bourbon as reference. Assuming that Wild Turkey didn’t change the blend too much, non chill filtration shouldn’t make that big of a difference in the scents.
Swirling brightens it up a little with a bit more honey mixed-in with the toasted caramel nougat, butterscotch, honeycomb, peach, apple, orange, cherry, vanilla, toasted bread, raisins, licorice, toasted oak, cinnamon, clove, rosemary, and roasted grains. Over time, it starts to give-off some dark chocolate. Again, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the non chill filtered version is intense, sweet, and rich all around with a little less herbal, fruity, earthy, oaky, and spicy scents.
There’s also a slightly more subtle side with the occasional hint of maple syrup and corn mash, as well as a gentle floralness mixed-in. The cinnamon bun scent from the toasted sugar, cinnamon, raisin, and baked bread still persists. Because Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon is so intense (especially the heat at times), it needs a lot of air-time to open up and mellow-out, so give it time to rest if you can (I’ll come back to this at the end). Other than that, this is great.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon taste and aftertaste
Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered starts of with a big burst of caramel, vanilla, apple, orange, peach, cinnamon, and raisin, then licorice, earthy caraway seed and rosemary, roasted oak, clove, coffee grounds, and baked bread. It’s quite roasty and earthy with some dry black tea (kind of rye-like) and has a similar earthiness to EH Taylor Barrel Proof Bourbon, but with far less dark fruit. It seems a little more oily and viscous than the normal Rare Breed, but it’s not super oily like EH Taylor Barrel Proof and George T Stagg. It’s not the best direct comparison, but that’s what comes to mind.
“Chewing” gives me earthy but still just as bold sweetness that’s toasted caramel, vanilla, apple, cherry, orange, rosemary, licorice, caraway seed, roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, slightly burnt bread, coffee grounds, and maple syrup. Every now and then I get caramel chews. And now with “chewing” Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon becomes more oily. At least from memory, it seems more oily than the normal Rare Breed because I didn’t mention oily at all in that review. Nonetheless, I’ll confirm with a comparison to regular Rare Breed.
This bourbon has a fantastic mix of rich and intense flavors across the board with good complexity, with the primary focus on caramel and vanilla sweetness, then earthy rosemary, then roasted oak and wood spices, and then the herbal and fruity notes. It’s no surprise that the 58.4% ABV is intense too, but it’s actually a tad more hot than I expected, drinking closer to the mid-60%, so it maintains it rough around the edges character.
The aftertaste first eases into honey, orange, dry oak, cinnamon, coffee grounds, licorice, fennel, and caraway seed. It’s a little sweet, oaky, herbal, and earthy, and then becomes a little more peachy and orange-y over time. It’s also somewhat oily, leaving some lingering oaky dryness and stickyness, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a drastic change in experience.
“Chewing” leaves more alcohol tingle in my mouth with honey, licorice, rosemary, dried apple, roasted oak, cinnamon, and clove, but overall is mostly the same. What does change is the oiliness, which becomes moderately oily. It’s nothing crazy like EH Taylor Barrel Proof or George T Stagg, but it seems to be noticeably more oily than average, which is a little oily to not at all. It manifests itself as a sticky, gummy, and dry sensation that grows with every sip, so the non chill filtration becomes more obvious over time. A great finish by the way.
Overall though, Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon is very flavorful and brash. It’s not perfect, in part because I’m a sucker for more dark fruit, sweet oak, and a tad less heat, but yeah it’s still got that something something.
Whiskey is also for sharing, so I use Vivaplex, 12, Amber, 2 oz Glass Bottles, with Lids for smaller samples and Vivaplex, 12, Amber, 4 oz Glass Bottles, with Lids for larger ones. Full transparency – This is an Amazon affiliate link so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else. Regardless, I actually use these myself.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Rating
At the same time though, there still are moments where I’m reminded that the blend likely includes a lot of the younger 6 year old bourbon, especially from the rowdy heat that takes a long long time to calm, not always well-defined traits, and less of that old and fragrant oakiness (aka sweet oak) I find in Wild Turkey 13 Year Distiller’s Reserve and 13 Year Father and Son. This is less of a complaint and more of an observation, because this is a sub-$50 bourbon, not $80+.
All things considered though, Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon Non Chill-Filtered continues to deliver a great bourbon experience that virtually no other whiskey can offer for the same price. For another time, I wonder what would happen if I added some Wild Turkey 13 Year Distiller’s Reserve to blend-in more of that dark oak maturity, and also lower the ABV as result. More to come on that later because it seems like a great experiment.
Now for the question about what non chill filtration offers. From having this alone, it seems to bring a little extra oiliness and dryness, although I wouldn’t say that it completely transforms the experience. The slightly extra oily and dry touch in the flavors, and especially the finish, does inch it just a little closer to the likes of EH Taylor Barrel Proof Bourbon and George T Stagg, which are very oily.
To validate if the chill filtration makes a difference, I’ve compared this Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered version to an LL/GC batch of Rare Breed from 2018, which I happened to find in Japan for around $35 (amazing!). It won’t be perfect since the batches are years apart, but it’s better than nothing.
To make sure I cover all the bases, I need to mention that just like any other Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon, it still needs a lot of air to get the best experience. It’s going to be pretty harsh right out of a newly opened bottle, so you may think that it’s a dud at first. You’re probably not going to get the best experience until 3-4 glasses are out of the bottle and the whiskey can breathe in the bottle for at least 2 weeks. Use those 3-4 glasses for cocktails, or let them air out in the glass for at least an hour before consuming because the alcohol is very hot. It seems like overkill, but it’s how you can maximize its potential and let it wow you when it’s ready.
So with a lot of patience and the ability to leave the country to find this export-only release (or have it shipped to you), Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon Non Chill Filtered is a winner.
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Shattered glass really sucks, so if you’re on the move, this Glencairn-like stainless steel snifter glass should survive your travels. Full transparency, this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.
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