Wild Turkey represents one of the catalysts of my ever growing enthusiasm for spirits, and especially whisky. Being a one-time fan of Hunter S. Thompson, a bottle of the Wild Turkey 101 was the one thing I picked up in Duty Free on the return of my first ever trip to Canada. I think it was the first time I’d seen anything exceed 50% ABV, and while I didn’t really know what I was doing when I drank it (with ice, admittedly), I enjoyed feeling cool while I did so. So several years later, I wanted to revisit the Wild Turkey, but maybe get something a bit fancier.
So here you have the single barrel, Kentucky Spirit. I went for this one because it’s another step up from the already premium Rare Breed, and at $63CAN (around £30 at the time – pre-Brexit), an absolute steal – you’d be looking at paying around £70 for this in the UK.
Like the Wild Turkey 101, it is bottled at 50.5%, and like the Rare Breed, it is bottled in a receptacle that could be described as vaguely turkey-shaped. The Rare Breed is like a rotund turkey, while the flat nature of the Kentucky Spirit more brings to mind splayed tail-feathers. It is numbered and the glass is particularly nicely finished. Just before posting this I realised I hadn't found out how old this is, and having looked in all my reliable places, on the Wild Turkey website, and elsewhere... I still don't know. I'm going to guess 6 to 8 years, but that's really no use to you.
I’ve been sharing this one with guests, which probably makes me the subject of some envy, because it sure is good - very soft and full bodied and the extra strength brings out the flavours slowly. There’s a little dark, bourbon banana on entry and a touch of vinegar on the nose, but that vanishes almost as soon as it’s detected. There’s wood, then a sort of mellow sweetness, then the woodiness returns at the end.
It was a while before I could bring myself to add water to it, and when I did, it was the tiniest drop. It took a while for any benefits to show, and even then, you’re left with the quandary of whether you preferred it before or not. Adding water removed some of the edge from that woodiness and some of the burn, but it also reduced the soft luxuriousness that I consider to be a particularly pleasant aspect. However, on this occasion I did enjoy it more than ever. It actually took me well over an hour to drink that one glass, which may have had something to do with the fact that we were watching a particularly angering episode of Making a Murderer, but was more down to the fact that every sip was enough to last a good few minutes. I certainly wouldn’t add more water than that tiny drop though.
I’m not sure I could (in fact, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t justify paying £70 for it, but it is easily worth the 30 or so that favourable rates against the Canadian dollar provided at the time I bought this. When you look at other spirits that cost around £70 though, this probably is at least as good as most. It’s just that, for me, it’s about getting value. It’s hard for me to truly enjoy anything I’ve paid 70 quid for.
Cheaper, here in the UK, is the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, which is a previous winner of one of my Spirits of the Year awards. This Wild Turkey probably isn’t quite as good as that, but you might prefer it, and I don't mean that in a condescending way.