Kentucky Spirit was Wild Turkey’s first single barrel expression. It was released in the 1990s as a 101 proof single barrel to partner with their standard Wild Turkey 101. There is no age statement on the bottle but it was similar to the standard Wild Turkey in age. The decision to remove the 8 years age statement from the standard brand was made about the same time as Kentucky Spirit was released but they were still putting seven years old whiskey in their product. The whiskey for the Kentucky Spirit was seven to nine years of age and they still keep that as the basic age range for the product today.
This bottle was a private selection single barrel made by the Bourbon Board of Directors for Party Mart liquor store in Louisville. The Bourbon Board of Directors consist of myself with Susan Reigler and Carla Carlton. When we pick a single barrel of whiskey for Party Mart we look for a good flavor but we want to make sure it tastes a little different from the standard offering so the customers get a unique bottle for their enjoyment. In this case I don’t think that is as important as it usually is because Kentucky Spirit has always varied in flavor. One of the best single barrels I ever drank was a Kentucky Spirit but I have had some bottles that were good but not outstanding. The average is somewhere in between. That is because the barrels are all different and that is reflected in the brand.
Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit
Nose: Lots of vanilla with pears and nutmeg and cinnamon. There is some old leather in the background hiding behind the oak.
Taste: Corn and vanilla with pears and nutmeg. Tasted with a dried cranberry enhances the pear and the baking spices but lessens the vanilla and corn. Tasted with a pecan enhances the vanilla and corn but takes away the fruit and lessens the spice. It actually gives it a cream soda feel in the mouth.
Finish: Starts very peppery and dries out with oak. Tasted with the cranberry it loses the pepper and the spice becomes more cinnamon. The pecan makes the finish oaky and less spicy.
Notes: This is a very good single barrel. Very distinctive and complex. Today I am enjoying this with a CLE Azabache cigar. The smoke makes the Bourbon less spicy but with a drier finish. The Bourbon makes the smoke a little sweeter and creamy. A good pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Michael Veach and Maggie Kimberl
December 6, 2017 at 11:24 am
Mike, I think you’re referring to the 8-year age statement, not 7. Wild Turkey 101 (KSBW) carried an age statement of eight years (domestically) from 1942 until 1992. There was, however, a WT 86.8 KSBW proof than ran from the 1970’s into the 1980’s with a 7-year age statement. In my experience the 86.8/7 is not near as mature as 101/8 from the same time period (and Jimmy and Eddie have said that much older stocks were going into the 8-year throughout the glut era).
As for Kentucky Spirit, it debuted in 1994 and the first release came in a box. I believe that if you look at the design it mirrors Blanton’s. The original had a pewter top, the glass is much more artistic than standard WT expressions, and of course, there’s the handwritten single barrel info. Again, very much like Blanton’s in consideration of the time it was released. Early Kentucky Spirit (“dusty” bottles, one might say) typically have a profile very much like the standard 101/8 bottles released in the glut era. And while a single-barrel release (so there’s always some variance) the general profile moves closer and closer to what we have now as the years progress.
Nice notes – they very much reflect what I often experience. You are correct that WTKS is more of a profile gamble nowadays. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, in my opinion, has a more consistent quality/flavor ratio. I highly recommend it. Nice write-up. Enjoyed it!
December 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm
Yes indeed I meant 8 years she statement. I have made the correction. Thanks
December 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm
That’s what I figured. Easy to do with so many old bourbons that previously carried age statements in the 6-8 year range. Hard to keep up with them all. Luckily, my focus is on one brand so I have less info to retain. You’re like a walking whiskey encyclopedia. I’ve relied on your info quite frequently. 🙂