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Review: Wild Turkey 101 (2019, 2001)

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Wild Turkey 101

I’ve mentioned this before, but I've consumed more Wild Turkey than any other whiskey. Behind a bar in Michigan from 2005-2012, WT 101 was our house bourbon shot and go-to mixer. Every Thanksgiving, I’d buy a couple special occasion bottles of Rare Breed and hang a “Closed. Private Event” sign on the front door. Price of admission for regulars was partaking in a shot of the high proof dirty bird. Entry got you all the Rare Breed you could drink and unlimited plays on the jukebox. There would be, give or take, a dozen or so faithfuls every year, never enough Rare Breed, always another song. This is the first Thanksgiving in a while I haven't had one of those older Rare Breeds open. Which is fitting, it's a different kind of holiday for all us this year; it should feel different. I may be a long way off from Thanksgivings that run into 5am fueled by 108 proof bourbon, but over the next two days, I'm gonna taste some Turkey side-by-side because that's how I like to drink.


Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon - 2019 - 50.5%

Nose: Smells like a straight rickhouse. Musty oak. Savory herbs. Vanilla. Touch sour. Orange oil. Rich caramel as it opens. Heat comes through pleasantly. Faint cherry.

Flavor: Caramel. Cinnamon. Leather. Oak. Dries out pleasantly.

Structure: Gentle, small waves. Long. More linear than the 2001.

Alcohol Integration: Punchy in the tail where it needs to be. 101 proof is totally dialed in. Even a couple drops of water kills the complexity on the nose and muddles the palate.

Score: 6 (Solid) It's as high a 6 as you can get.


Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon - 2001 - 50.5%

Nose: Old bourbon notes: rich butter, caramel, burnt sugars, natural oils, leather, walnut, old books, stewed fruits.

Flavor: Caramel. Walnut. Old school oak. Thyme. Light mint and florals.

Structure: Slow escalation from caramel to the oak. Slow slide back down to candied notes threading in the oak and herbal spice at even intervals, proving well integrated, tumbling complexity.

Alcohol Integration: Spot-on.

Score: 7 (Highly Recommend) Dries out a bit more in the finish than I usually prefer, but it's layered and rich most the way.


You May Also Dig:

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit

When it comes to Wild Turkey 101, I could say, "Why do you need anything else?" The quality/price point is ridiculous. The enthusiast pivot is obviously the Russell's Single Barrels. But I'm finishing up some Kentucky Spirit notes and after being more misses than hits for me between 2012-2016, I've come back around on them lately. There's probably a very good reason Wild Turkey dials in so well around 101 proof and off-profile barrels can be really fun pours.


Rating System

10 - Reevaluate The Budget

9 - Stash Two (If Able)

8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)

7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers

6 - Solid - Above Average

5 - Acceptable For The Situation

4 - Not Vocally Complaining

3 - Anything Else To Drink?

2 - Nothing Nice To Say

1 - Drain Pour

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