Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit
About 5 years ago, I got really curious about dusty bourbon after sharing some notes on National Distillers Old Grand-Dad. Tastings and bottle shares were arranged. Flash-forward a couple years and RareBird101, remembering my love of those National Distillers bottles, made sure I tried this 2015 WTKS, noting profile similarities with vintage ND bottlings. This isn't the first time his WTKS recommendations have come in handy. The most interesting Kentucky Spirit I've tried - heavy lactic notes and baking spice, total eggnog bomb - also came on his recommendation.
WTKS gets lost in the shuffle. It makes sense. It's pricier (almost 3x standard 101). Wild Turkey also offers other single barrel options, older options, higher proof options, rarer options. Most damningly, it's younger sibling WT 101 is about the best bang for your buck bottle on the market and available everywhere. All this probably explains why I haven't felt compelled to buy a Kentucky Spirit since stashing a few old turkey fan bottles (pre-2011) with the lower barrel entry proof. Let's see what I've been missing.
These were tasted side-by-side because that's how I like to drink.
WTKS - “Russell’s Renegades” RareBird101 #183 - 50.5%
Nose: Brightest Turkey nose I’ve run across - super fruity. Tangerine. Apple. Pecan. Soft touch with the oak. Light vanilla and Cinnamon.
Flavor: Bookended with fruits - tangerine and apples. In the middle, pecan again. Vanilla. Light oak. Peanut brittle.
Structure: Balanced and linear with oak lift toward the finish.
Alcohol Integration: Pleasantly underproof.
Score: 7 (Highly Recommend) A fruity crusher. Not what I expect from Wild Turkey. It isn't overly dynamic or complex, but it's completely enjoyable. Tough to have just one pour.
WTKS - Holmes Liquor 3/31/15 #872 - 50.5%
Nose: Wow. Vintage amaro. Old recipe Zucca. Big cola. Jolly ranchers. Butterscotch. There’s some light floral notes in there. Solid, old-school oak. Worn leather. Stale marshmallow (pleasantly stale).
Flavor: Deep butterscotch up front. Then big cola notes. Into cherry bark on the back. Allspice. Fernet and coke. Rebounds with deep caramel.
Structure: Fat and rolling. Soft on the palate. Dynamic, slow well integrated swings and dips on the vertical axis. Length and easy transitions on the horizontal axis.
Alcohol Integration: Perfect.
Score: 9 (Stash Two) Complex. Deep. Dynamic. Totally dialed in. I'm temped to dose a bottle of standard 101 with some vintage Zucca and a few vials of Fernet, leave a little headspace, and forget about it in the basement for a couple years.
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Same recommendation I made on the 101 reviews two days ago. I'll be keeping an eye on Kentucky Spirit store picks - focused on "try before you buy" scenarios or bottle splits rather than blind purchases. For the past couple years, when a store released a Kentucky Spirit barrel, I didn't even consider it. I'd wait for a Russell's or go with a different brand. My palate/priorities are changing though. The balance of the 101 proof coupled and wide profile range is starting to look more appealing than my old strategy which often favored higher proof for proof's sake.
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