The Wild Turkey brand was created in the 1940s by Austin Nichols Co. of New York. Austin Nichols was a grocery store that had become a spirits company at the end of Prohibition. The legend has it that the President of the company went on a wild turkey hunt with some friends and pulled a bottle of Bourbon from the stocks of whiskey at Austin Nichols and it was a hit with his friends. The next year they asked him to bring more of that “Wild Turkey Bourbon”. Thus Wild Turkey 101 was born. Originally, it had an 8 years age statement on the bottle and still does in the overseas market. The domestic version of the brand now has Bourbon aged 6-8 years. In this day of whiskey shortages it is impressive that the whiskey remains that old.
Wild Turkey has done the best job of making their whiskey the way it was originally made. They have resisted the economic factors that caused other companies to raise their barrel entry proof to 125. Wild Turkey has slowly inched their entry proof up from about 107 to about 115, but Jimmy Russell resisted every time he was asked to do so by the accountants. They have changed their fermenters from cypress to stainless steel, but the reason for cypress in the 19th century was that it was rot resistant and did not add flavor to the mash. Stainless steel fits both those requirements and is a lot easier to keep clean. For those wanting to taste whiskey that tastes the way it did in their grandfather’s time, Wild Turkey 101 is as close as you can find in the market today.
Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon
Age: No Age Statement
Nose: Corn and vanilla with lots of old leather and oak with some berry fruit notes and baking spices.
Taste: Very full bodied with caramel toffee and a note of coffee. Oak and baking spices are tempered with a hint of blackberry fruit. When tasted with a dried cranberry more fruit comes out of the Bourbon – ripe apples and pears, but it reduces the caramel and baking spices. When tasted with a pecan some citrus notes come out with a definite allspice note. This is a very complex Bourbon.
Finish: Long and dry with oak and fine leather. The cranberry shortens the finish and makes it more sweet and fruity with a hint of oak. The pecan lengthened the finish and added a lot more spices.
I decided to pair this with “The Tabernacle” cigar. I find the smoke to be full bodied with rich tobacco, vanilla and cedar spice notes that should hold up well with this full-bodied Bourbon. The Bourbon made the smoke more caramel than vanilla and the cedar spiciness became more sweet baking spices. The smoke made the Bourbon less spicy with more caramel and fine leather with a hint of apples and pears. It is a fine pairing worth repeating.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller