Wild Turkey has been making a rye whiskey for decades – since 1954 according to the bottle label. It was never a huge percentage of their business, but it has always had a loyal following. It is a very good rye in the “Kentucky Style” of rye whiskey which uses a large percentage of corn in the mash bill. The fact is, I would call it a “High Corn Rye”.
Twenty years ago they would distill rye for three days a year and now Jimmy Russell tells us that they have doubled that capacity and distill rye for a whole week each year now. Jimmy is known to exaggerate every now and then when talking about whiskey, but I don’t think so in this case. Rye is a growing market but it is nowhere near the size of the Bourbon market.
Part of the growth of Wild Turkey rye is that they have introduced a lower proof expression at 81 proof, as well as, their traditional 101 proof. The marketing people believe that the lower proof appeals to bartenders who use rye in cocktails. I am not sure of that since I believe the higher proof makes a better Manhattan or Old Fashioned. In any case, today I am tasting the traditional 101 proof expression.
Wild Turkey Rye
Age: No Age Statement
Nose: Rye grass, vanilla, caramel and a bit of fine leather and spice. There is a hint of fruit in the background – ripe pear maybe, but very indistinct.
Taste: Rye grass, vanilla and that pear fruit comes out with some baking spices and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry, the spice diminishes and the vanilla comes forward with some fruit, but that may be the cranberry. Tasted with a pecan, a bit of citrus and vanilla come forward with only a hint of baking spice.
Finish: Dry oak wood and baking spices that turn a little peppery as the finish lingers. Very nice finish. The cranberry makes the finish mostly oak with only a hint of baking spice. The pecan gives the finish a lingering citrus note with oak and a hint of spice.
This is a very good whiskey. It has plenty of character and holds up well when mixed in a Manhattan. It also pairs well with a cigar. Today I am having E.P. Carrillo Inch Maduro. The smoke really brings out the spices in the whiskey making it bit peppery. The whiskey brings out a dark chocolate note in the smoke. A very good pairing on this spring afternoon.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller