Monday, April 24, 2017

Review - Wild Turkey Rye

This rye whiskey was first released in 2015 and is bottled at 81 Proof (proof is the old American system of measuring alcohol strength and equates to 40.5% ABV).  It joined the popular Wild Turkey whiskey range - this includes the 81 Proof bourbon, 101 Proof bourbon and a stronger version of the rye, called 101 Proof Rye.  The mash bill for this whiskey is 51% rye, 37% corn and 12% barley, and it has been matured in American white oak casks.  The Wild Turkey Rye is available through specialist whisky retailers in the UK and Europe, but is widely available throughout the USA. A bottle should cost between around £30 each.

The Wild Turkey distillery is in the town of Lawrenceburg in the famous whiskey making state of Kentucky. It was founded by the Ripy family in 1869 and there are a couple of stories regarding the name - one is because it was built on Wild Turkey Hill and the other regards a story about a former employee. He used to go on an annual turkey hunt with and took whiskey from the distillery with him. In the following year they asked him to bring more of "that wild turkey whiskey" and soon after the Wild Turkey brand was introduced.

The brand was one of the most popular bourbon brands before Prohibition, but the distillery was forced to close during that period.  However, it was one of the first to reopen after Prohibition and this helped to re-establish Wild Turkey as a leading American whiskey brand.  It is currently owned by Gruppo Campari, who took control in 2009.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a deep golden yellow and the nose has a lovely mixture of sweet and spicy aromas - think of vanilla, honey and earthy baking spices in particular, especially cinnamon. Despite these, the impression is of freshness and vibrancy. This is accentuated by delicious additional aromas of maraschino cherry and candied orange peel.

On the palate this whiskey has a softness that is not always present with ryes. Most have pronounced spiciness and bittersweet notes.  This whiskey has these but they are more subtle and toned down - imagine delicate cinnamon, white oak and bitter cereals, plus hints of menthol and cocoa powder. These notes are complimented by well balanced sweet and fruity notes. These are most reminiscent of the vanilla, honey, cherry and orange characteristics from the nose, along with a hints of golden syrup and milk chocolate.

The finish sees a more pronounced spiciness and dryness than on the nose or palate and these are the elements that linger longest.  This gives an increasing warmth in the mouth, which is very pleasant, especially once the sweet honey, vanilla and fruity notes have faded.

What's the verdict?
The Wild Turkey Rye is a lovely whiskey and one that shows the subtler side of rye whiskeys. The lovely balance between the sweet, fruity and warming spice notes is very good and makes this an enjoyable and easy-drinking whiskey.  It works very well when taken neat, but also works superbly when used in classic American whiskey cocktails such as the Manhattan and Old Fashioned. The whiskey is also good value at just £30 a bottle and one of the better ryes to come out from the big brands.


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