Origin: Kentucky, USA
Price: $70 (Aus), $40 (USA)
Its aroma fills the room and suddenly, for whatever reason, the lyrics from John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” start pounding in my head. It was at that first whiff I knew I was in for a wild ride that made me ponder just one question at every turn: can bourbon get any better? Yes, but not by much.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed is barrel proof bourbon which means that it is bottled straight from the barrel without cutting it down with water. At 54.1% alcohol volume it is rich hard hitting bourbon boasting heavy wood notes from new white oak barrels with #4 alligator char and a foundation of full flavoured grain with a dash of spicy rye to boot. This full flavour comes from the deep layered alligator char and the fact that Wild Turkey distills its whisky at what it describes as a lower proof, a distilling method which is thought to allow more of the grain flavour to carry through from the mash as the distillate is less concentrated with alcohol.
The nose presents with powdered brown sugar and sparks of paprika as smoothing layers of vanilla, mild chocolate and salted caramel moderates the big drying wood notes. Toasted coconut emerges, much like a macaroon, with shades of vanilla and cocoa. There is an aspect of earthiness combining with the grain and lashes of rye, as they shine with dried fruit, raisins, apricot, sweet strawberry sauce, fresh mint leaves and hints of maple syrup and brown vinegar. On the palate the taste buds are electrified with shades of rich charred oak, spicy cayenne pepper, rye and heavy dark chocolate with citrus peel as the sweetness of vanilla, maple, cigarette tobacco, mint, sultana, dates and the bite of pickled ginger counteracts those heavy dark notes. These flavours linger on the finish, and gradually begin to fade as the wood becomes more dominant as it accompanies flickers of cocoa, coffee, glazed cherry compote with vanilla pods and the faintest cinnamon.
Overall, this is a fine sipping bourbon that is enjoyed best at it’s full glory of 54.1%. Add ice if you must and mix it with your favourite mixer, but personally this is a bourbon best served neat and much like revenge, cold. Not too cold, though. I suggest keeping it in the fridge rather than the freezer as Wild Turkey’s Master Distiller suggests. After all, you don’t want to deaden your taste buds and miss all the action!