Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon
If the Dram Club has done one thing for me, it has introduced me to the world of bourbon. It used to be that I thought of bourbon as the one I'd give to friends who 'drank whisk(e)y' but wanted to mix it with coke (yes, it was a test to our friendship). While Bourbon still does not have the same romance as scotch to me, there is a realm of complexity and an entire new palate of flavours to explore. I can admit when I'm wrong, so thanks go to Drinks by the Dram for this awakening.
I love this distillery's claim to fame. It encapsulates the passion and love that goes into whisk(e)y at every stage from the raw materials to production and straight through to the glass that is currently sitting at my right hand (dangerously low might I add). At the distillery works a man by the name of Jimmy Russell who holds the honour of being the longest-tenured active Master Distiller. As if that isn't enough, his son is following in his footsteps, having become a Master Distiller in his own right in 2015. Jimmy has worked for more than 60 years in this role with his son having 35 years under his belt. Better still - Jimmy was trained by the son of the Original Master Distiller! A lineage that clearly demonstrates the dedication that goes in to making this whiskey.
The whiskey got its name in a rather interesting manner. In 1940 a distillery executive was hunting with friends when he shared his bourbon around the group. Seeing that there was an obvious market for the product, it required a name. What better than to memorialise this pivotal day by christening it after the game they were hunting - Wild Turkey.
The Rare Breed expression is notably not diluted with water and is bottled at 56.4%. I have to say, for me, the splash of water improved my experience immensely. I had done this as a blind tasting and found many of the nuances inaccessible without. Having said that, I love a cask strength bottle, because I get to decide how much dilution suits my palate. With that in mind, my notes:
Nose: Before Water - Heavy spice with some detectable vanilla. After Water - Spice is still prominent, but narrowed down to a peppery sensation. Green apples drizzled in treacle comes in as a balancing sweet note. This made me think of toffee apples at Halloween (I would love to say when I was a child, but I still very much enjoy a toffee apple to this day).
Taste: Oak is dominant. The spice remains as pepper. The notes say ginger: I would not have got this on my own, but having read it there is something there at the back of the palate. A hint of honey is fleeting as the spice intensifies. The mouthfeel has a pleasing tingle.
Finish: A longish finish with the sweet notes at the back of the palate fading away behind long lingering pepper.
This is a bourbon I would be happy to pour and sip neat, which is something I never thought I would see myself write. Wild Turkey Rare Breed has convinced me that bourbon really does have a lot to bring to the table. Just make sure you note the strength and add water bit by bit to taste. You will be rewarded for the bit of extra patience.