Bourbon Breakdown: Wild Turkey Bourbon

September 2, 2021

While Wild Turkey is a popular and widely available brand of bourbon (and rye), most average drinkers don’t know much about the portfolio beyond the flagship 101 bourbon bottling. However, there are several Wild Turkey bourbons worth getting to know from recent additions to established bottlings. As an added bonus, they’re affordable and available unlike many hard-to-find bourbons with insane markups (cough, Weller, cough).

But beyond the bourbons, there are two important figures you should know as well — Jimmy and Eddie Russell. This father-and-son duo are Wild Turkey’s master distillers who have over 100 years of experience between them. Together, the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Famers have kept the brand relevant even through the dark days of the ’70s and ’80s — when bourbon had gone quite out of style — until today.

Read along to find out a few details about each Wild Turkey bourbon bottling along with our Distiller community rating. This way you’ll be ready the next time you’re in the bourbon market.

Wild Turkey 101

Named for its proof, this is the brand’s flagship bourbon. Go to any bar — dive, cocktail, and everything in between — and simply ask for “101.” This is what you’ll be served.

What to Know:

It’s been made the same way for over 60 years thanks to the original yeast strain being used. Additionally, 101 is aged for 6-8 years in alligator char #4 new American oak barrels. .

What Our Experts Say It Tastes Like:

Flavors of toasted wood, caramel, vanilla and a rich chocolate maltiness.

Avg US Price: $23
ABV: 50.5%
Community Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3,479 Ratings)

Wild Turkey 101 /Photo Credit:Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Bourbon

Formerly known as Wild Turkey 81, this Kentucky straight bourbon is, you guessed it, bottled at 81 proof.

What to Know:

Master Distiller Eddie Russell crafted this 81 proof bourbon in 2011. Word has it that Eddie developed this bourbon for mixing, but you can enjoy it however you like.

What Our Experts Say It Tastes Like:

Baking spices, sweet corn, apples and dark rye.

Avg US Price: $19
ABV: 40.5%
Community Rating: 2.95 out of 5 stars (978 Ratings)

Wild Turkey Bourbon /Photo Credit:Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Rare Breed

Rare Breed is a barrel strength bourbon.

What to Know:

Rare Breed is made in batches from a blend of 6, 8, and 12-year-old bourbons. Each batch will vary in proof, but will be around 112-116 proof. Significantly, when it was released in 1991, it was one of the first barrel strength bourbons in existence.

What Our Experts Say It Tastes Like:

Brown sugar, vanilla and burnt toast … sultry smooth all the way

Avg US Price: $51
ABV: varies
Community Rating: 4.11 out of 5 stars (2,075 Ratings)

Wild Turkey Rare Breed /Photo Credit:Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit

Kentucky Spirit is the brand’s single barrel bourbon expression first introduced in 1995.

What to Know:

Aged for 8 years, each bottle displays the bottling date, warehouse information, barrel number and the signatures of both Jimmy and Eddie Russell. It’s bottled at 101 proof.

What Our Experts Say It Tastes Like:

Butterscotch candies mixed with peppery oak flavors.

Avg US Price: $59
ABV: 50.5%
Community Rating: 3.85 out of 5 stars (723 Ratings)

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit /Photo Credit:Wild Turkey

Other Wild Turkey Bourbon Expressions to Know:

Wild Turkey Longbranch

In 2016, actor Matthew McConaughey joined Wild Turkey as its Creative Director. Beyond being a face for the brand, he and Master Distiller Eddie Russell collaborated on Longbranch which was released in 2018. This bourbon is refined with Texas mesquite and oak charcoals combining both Texas and Kentucky flavors.

Wild Turkey Longbranch /Photo Credit:Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep

Master’s Keep is an annual limited-edition series featuring some rare and unique whiskeys. For example, the most recent Master’s Keep release featured a 17-year-old bottled-in-bond bourbon. A Toasted Oak Finish bourbon expression is on the horizon. Each one is worth seeking out so make sure you’re acquainted with your local retailer.

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep /Photo Credit:Wild Turkey

Ready to do your own Wild Turkey bourbon comparisons?

With Distiller, you’ll always know what’s in the bottle before you spend a cent. Rate, Review, and Discover spirits. Head on over to Distiller, or download the app for iOS and Android today!

Want to enjoy Distiller ad-free? Join Distiller Pro today to support the Distiller platform and keep ads off of your screen.

You may also like...