Want to make a friend who doesn’t drink bourbon wonder what you’re up to? Walk up to the bar with him and after he places his order, order a Wild Turkey. For good or ill, Wild Turkey has a reputation. A reputation as the drink of choice for those who care more about getting fucked up than for good taste.
Maybe it harkens back to being the drink of choice for Hunter S. Thompson (kids, ask your parents). Maybe it's the numerous appearances in the hands of tough guys on tv and in the movies going back 40 years or more. Or maybe it’s just that as many other bourbon brands were dropping their proof to 86 or 80, Wild Turkey sat firm at 101. It’s a reputation that those who sell Wild Turkey have been happy to exploit with advertising campaigns such as the infamous “Give ‘em the Bird” campaign from a few years ago.
But all that said, there’s a little secret hiding behind that reputation. And that's that it’s largely undeserved. Wild Turkey might be the softest, most complex bourbon you can find in it’s proof and price range. It’s sweet, spicy and well aged. It’s a damn good bourbon. And as it was one of the first that I purchased as I started my bourbon journey, it’s partially responsible for turning me on to bourbon in the first place.
Wild Turkey 101 proof Bourbon
Purchase Info: $21.99 for a 750mL at Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN
Details: 50.5% ABV
Nose: Citrus oils, bubble gum, brown sugar, allspice.
Mouth: Velvety mouthfeel. Sweet. Caramel, ginger, citrus and a nice bit of oak.
Finish: Long and warm. Sweet ginger and a lively tingle dance across the tongue after you swallow.
Thoughts: You’d be hard pressed to find a more complex bourbon for under $25 than the 101 proof version of Wild Turkey. It’s sweet, spicy and full flavored with a nice nose and a lovely finish. It’s proof and price make it versatile enough to hold it’s own in a cocktail or while cooking and tasty enough that you can enjoy it neat as well. This is one of my every day favorites and I try to always have one on the shelf.