WILD TURKEY KENTUCKY SPIRIT
Barrel No. 187, Warehouse B, Rick 1, bottled on 7/2/14
MASH BILL – 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley
PROOF – 101
AGE – NAS (~9 years)
DISTILLERY – Austin Nichols Distilling Company
PRICE – $51
BUY AGAIN? – If I ever found another bottle of this batch? Instantly!
I hadn’t planned on a Tuesday post this week. But I couldn’t resist sharing this fun little Thanksgiving find.
I picked up this bottle on Thanksgiving day last week. The kitschy old-style turkey bottle is a must, of course. And Wild Turkey bourbons in any incarnation have an inherently autumnal quality to them—bright baking spices, apple and cherry pie crust dough, caramel, dusty oak and dried herbs.
There were a handful of these old bottles lined up on the store’s shelf. Two from Warehouse H, bottled in 2017. The other three bottled in 2014, one from warehouse B and two from warehouse N. I did a bit of research (thank you, David Jennings!) and ascertained warehouse B would likely appeal to me most. So here we are.
I uncorked it that night for Thanksgiving dinner and tried it neat, in a traditional Glencairn, alongside the meal. It fit in perfectly, the rustic oak, baking spices, caramel, and very strong cherry notes complimenting the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, grilled Brussels sprouts and butternut squash, cranberry chutney, butter and bread. Bam!
Then to go with our pumpkin pie (topped with laboriously hand-whipped cream) we used the WT Kentucky Spirit to make a cocktail that dates back to 1862, called the Stone Fence—3 ounces of unfiltered apple cider, 2 ounces of bourbon, 1/4 ounce maple syrup, and a slice of fresh apple plopped in a well-chilled glass. Bam again! The rustic mix of Wild Turkey bourbon, unfiltered apple cider, spice-laden pumpkin pie, and fresh unsweetened whipped cream… Well, it’s a pairing I highly recommend.
One doesn’t comes across these slightly older bottlings of Kentucky Spirit that often anymore. Bottled in 2014 and aged something around 9 years, it was quite likely distilled during the brief period from 2004-06 when the Wild Turkey barrel entry proof was 110—a brief bridge from the fabled 107-entry-proof era to the still current 115. The 107-era bottlings are highly prized. Given the 110 period was so short, bottlings from then aren’t particularly sought after nor written up with the same fervor. But of course no Wild Turkey fan is going to turn down the opportunity to try one!
Sipping it at its uncorking, I could tell it was special. The cherry notes were particularly strong, and that satisfyingly dusty oak that Wild Turkey can sometimes offer was also prominent. I noticed this right up front in the aroma, and those notes continued to dominate through the taste and into the finish. But I was drinking the whiskey, not tasting it. And a plethora of other savory aromas and flavors were vying for my attention. Naturally I wanted to try the bourbon again on its own, separate from the influences of the Thanksgiving meal.
So here we are, two days after uncorking and about five pours into the bottle, tasted again in a traditional Glencairn.
COLOR – soft medium-orange with yellow and brownish tints
NOSE – cinnamon, cream, caramel, pastry dough, something like apple brandy, then that bright baked cherry note emerges in the second wave and sticks around
TASTE – bright overall, with cinnamon rolls served up on a smooth plank of oak, just a touch of edgy tannins on swallowing
FINISH – dark caramel, some chocolate, the oak, a bright tingly peppery warmth
OVERALL – good Wild Turkey: neither froofy nor forgettable, just solid autumnal bourbon tasting like you’d expect bourbon should
This does remind me of some of the 2006 Wild Turkey 101 bottles I’ve had, that slight tannin edge to the oak notes. The nose, I will say, wins the day here. At first it’s all restrained pastry dough flavors, and then after just a few minutes in the glass, that baked cherry note washes over everything and stays.
Tonight the taste then leaned into the wood and pastry notes, without the cherry’s sweet influence. And the finish then darkened things a bit. I’ve had better outings with Wild Turkey products. But the nose on this single barrel certainly elevates it from the average Wild Turkey 101 or past Kentucky Spirit bottles I’ve had.
Now nosing the empty glass, I get lovely oak notes, coffee, brown sugar and baking spices. The gift that keeps on giving!
The trouble with posting notes on a single barrel release, of course, is that the chances of any readers finding this particular barrel are slim to none—especially a barrel from six years ago. But in a way that doesn’t matter. If you love Wild Turkey, or are Wild Turkey curious, any older bottling that says “Distilled by the Austin Nichols Distilling Company” on it is a no-brainer buy. They can still be found in the odd corner store here and there, and online secondary market prices for Wild Turkey don’t really start to hike until you reach back past the year 2000.
I myself went back to the shelf where I found this bottle and picked up the last of the 2014’s still sitting there, a single barrel out of warehouse N also bottled on July 2, 2014. It will be very interesting to compare them. Stay tuned…!