W.B. Saffell Batch #1

W.B. SAFFELL BATCH #1

MASH BILL – Wild Turkey (75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley)

PROOF – 107

AGE – NAS (blend of 6, 8, 10, and 12 year bourbons)

DISTILLERY – The American Medicinal Spirits Co. (i.e. Wild Turkey!)

PRICE – $50 for a 375ml bottle (shipping from NYC brought it $60)

BUY AGAIN? – Already did! But won’t often given at 750ml it would be a $100 bottle.

A large photo of a tiny bottle. W.B. Saffell may be among the cutest little bottles of bourbon ever produced, with its old-timey label and diminutive stature. But what’s inside is no small feat!

First, in brief:

COLOR – soft burnt orange

NOSE – rustic toasted honey, dusty oak and caramel

TASTE – creamy, autumnal-spicy, sweet caramel, a touch of tangy orange

FINISH – lingering spice and orange-tinged caramel with a bit of black pepper

As a Wild Turkey fan I just could. not. WAIT for this to hit California. I asked around at all my local shops and none could find it listed among their distributor’s possibilities. So I ordered two from a place in NYC and had them shipped. This upped the already steep price by another $10/bottle. That’s what I get for being impulsive. (Had I slowed down, I’d still have done it. But I might have thought to do a group order with friends to help bring the shipping down. A good money-saving trick, when you can arrange it—or remember it!)

Anyway, it was worth it. Though it does not say “Wild Turkey” anywhere on the label, this “American Medicinal Spirits Co” offering is actually the best new bottling out of the Wild Turkey Distillery in a while. In 2017, Campari, which owns many brands including Wild Turkey, started a line of boutique 375ml bottlings called The Whiskey Barons Collection. W.B. Saffell is the line’s third offering. An expert blend (thank you Eddie Russell) of 6, 8, 10 and 12 year old bourbons, W.B. Saffell is non-chill filtered and bottled at a crisp 107 proof.

In terms of flavor and complexity, I believe this could have been released as a 750ml bottle in the annual Master’s Keep series and held its own alongside past editions. It would without doubt have been the younger—and younger-tasting—of the Master’s Keeps. It has a spritely quality not found in the more mature Master’s Keep Decades, Revival, or 17 Year. The taste leans toward the kicky Wild Turkey 101, with something of the thoughtful, layered intricacy of Decades. W.B. Saffell is refined in its own particular way, both complex and approachable (a Wild Turkey hallmark) and perfectly satisfying.

The price tag is a sad fact. I’m at peace with having overpaid a bit above msrp for the two bottles I had shipped—and I’m going through this first bottle fast! But I wouldn’t ante-up to ship W.B. Saffell again. If it eventually does get released in California, and I’m able to find it under $50, it will be a regular feature on my shelf. Otherwise, after enjoying my current bottles I’ll content myself with Saffell’s excellent, cheaper, imminently available forbearers: Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Small Batch when I want Saffell’s thoughtful side, and Wild Turkey 101 when I want its feisty spirit.

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