Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon vs Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon
For a while, people have been wondering whether Rare Breed would be better without chill filtration. In 2021, Wild Turkey finally granted that wish and released Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon. But there’s a twist – it’s only sold outside the US. I don’t know why, but it seems like a strange decision.
As a refresher, chill filtration is the process of lowering a liquid’s temperature to remove oils and other things (oak bits are a different process), which can change the liquid. Whiskey does not have to be chill filtered, so some distilleries do it for certain releases and not for others.
Since I write this while I’m outside the US, I have the chance to offer my thoughts on the burning question. So for this comparison, I of course have the Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered bourbon ($46 for 1L in Japan) and a normal chill filtered Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon, batch LL/GC. Time for a tangent.
I found this LL/GC, from March 2018, in October 2021 at a small mom and pop shop, behind glass for $36. Fun fact, the price had been increased from $32. The 2018 batches are interesting because they are known to have more older stock due to Longbranch taking up more than expected amounts of younger bourbon. I also greatly enjoyed the LL/GA (Top Shelf rating) I reviewed, so I jumped on the opportunity to get one and compare to the non chill filtered version. Back on track now.
As a result of using this LL/GC for this comparison, apart from filtration, there could be variation in blends across batches that affect the results because the two rare breeds were blended and bottled 3 years apart. The perfect way to do this is to compare bottles from the same batch, but alas I’m not doing that.
Anyways, let’s find out if chill filtration makes a difference in this Wild Turkey Rare Breed chill filtered vs Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered bourbon comparison.
The below table outlines key facts and figures for what I am comparing.
How Do They Compare?
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.
And the winner is...
I really didn’t see this coming…but Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered Bourbon wins and it’s shockingly not that close. The non chill filtered version has more caramel, earthy rosemary and caraway seed, roasted oak, dark berry, cinnamon, and chocolate. It’s heavier, darker, drier, more complex, more rich, and more cinnamon bun-y, making it even more Rare Breed-y.
The chill filtered version is brighter and more herbal with the balance shifted to more honey, orange, apple, and licorice. Yes its still rich and intense in it’s own way, but it pales in comparison. When I smelled the chill filtered version first, I thought I was off because I expected it to be darker, but smelling the non chill filtered version confirmed that I was fine and there actually were noticeable differences.
It’s as if the non chill filtered version took the base Rare Breed, and dialed up the low and low-mid end, which creates a different experience. Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon LL/GC is still very good, but the Non Chill Filtered version is noticeably better in every way.
It’s possible that something happened to the LL/GC from 2018 to 2021 as it sat on a shelf (away from direct light). But looking back at my old review, I didn’t really mention dark, earthy, dark fruit, and cinnamon bun. It was still rich, intense, and had brighter apple, orange, and herbal notes, so I’m more or less getting the same notes as before. My best guess is that the bottle is fine.
If that is the case, whoa Wild Turkey Rare Breed Non Chill Filtered is an upgrade that gives Stagg Jr a run for it’s money, and these days Stagg Jr is a lot of money. At the same time, I won’t be changing my previous Rare Breed Bourbon review.
I can also confirm that non chill filtration does increase the oiliness and dryness in the flavors and finish. It’s somewhat noticeable in the slightly more viscous and drying flavors, but even more so in the finish where it leaves more noticeable lingering dryness and stickiness. I’m not sure if makes that much of a difference with the scents. I also can’t say whether chill filtration or blending affects how much more dark, fruity, earthy, oaky, and spicy the non chill filtered version is.
Regardless, I can confidently say is that the non chill filtered version is better, I just wish I had a better sense of what was causing it.
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.
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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