Wild Turkey, a brand owned by the Campari group, and labeled “Austin Nichols Distilling Company”, has been on the shelves under its current name since 1940, although the distillery had been producing bourbon since 1869. Its flagship product is bottled at 101 proof (50.5% ABV) after a distillation that the company refers to as “low and slow”, yielding a relatively low barrel-strength of 109 proof (around 54.5% ABV).
Nose: The nose tickle is strong, but there is a bright acidity to the aroma. Lemons, vanilla ice cream, some raw grain spirit. A dash of water brings out some green grass and a hint of honeysuckle.
Palate: Powerful and fiery, they aren’t kidding about the 101 proof (even if it is a gimmick). The flame resolves into a nice bright bouquet of sour lemons, unripe pears, cinnamon, vanilla creme brulee, molasses, and a strong suggestion of campfire ashes (barrel char). Fiery, but not as youthful or industrial-tasting as some other young bourbons I’ve tried. A dash of water doesn’t tame the burn much, but does yield a delicate nutty sweetness – roasted chestnuts.
Finish: Short, but warming. Mostly wet charcoal, over-browned baked goods (cookies?), and a bit of nuttiness – maybe walnut.
I am a lot more impressed by this bourbon than I was with any of the earlier cheap American whiskeys I’ve tried. The rawness of the grain is apparent in the nose, but subtly hidden on the palate by the surprising variety of fruit and sweet baked flavors. Still not as easy to drink and enjoy as a single malt, but definitely worth drinking neat, especially at this price. It’s even nicer with a dash of water. This may be the first sub-$25 bottle of bourbon that I can heartily recommend!