Wild, WILD TURKEY

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Wild, WILD TURKEY

Unread postby Mike » Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:05 pm

Remembering WT Tribute from a few years back, I spent more for a bottle of bourbon than I have in a very long time. When Master's Keep came out last year, the suggested retail price was $150. Had the bottle I bought been for sale at that price I would have passed it up, but at $19.95, (OK, so I lie), I could not pass it up.

Anywayhow, I have in my possession, and right before me, a bottle of Wild Turkey Master's Keep bourbon. Some few of you may remember that I always favored older bourbons. To me, the extra tannins delivered a longer finish and a subtlety that I enjoyed. If, as it was in the case of the Tribute, it also included some really rich barrel flavors, so much the better.

Suspecting that at 17 years of age (who in their right mind would trust any 17 year old) this one might be a mite too far on the tannic side, and not have, because of its 86.6 proof, enough of the treasured barrel richness, I also purchased a bottle of Russell's Reserve 10 year old Single Barrel at 110 proof as a potential corrective to the MK. I know the RR well and it is a superb bourbon in my opinion, with loads of the barrel flavors that makes the better Wild Turkey bourbons so special.

Actually, because of the strange history of the MK bourbon it IS a barrel proof bourbon. It went into the limited number of barrels at about 105 proof and came out at about 86 proof. Proof, if any was needed, that the world is more than a bit topsy turvy these days. That aside, the MK is unlike any other WT bourbon with which I have experience (which is not trivial by the way). It IS old bourbon, and in my eyes, very good bourbon....... but, just as I feared, the tannins have a mite too much to say. Also, in my opinion, the low proof gives over some of the barrel flavors, but I do not know that I have sufficient knowledge to back that statement up, since MK was not watered down to its bottling proof, at least not in the normal way of adding water to what came from the barrel.

As it comes from the bottle MK delivers a barrel full of oak, in fact, I get a hint of acorns, burnt toast, and, in the nearest aroma that comes to mind smoked meat. Now, this is not all unwelcomed, just different. A tasting delivers some of the expected richness, but the tannins rule. Not so much, by the way, that I do not find this bourbon to my liking, as I expect most bourbon drinkers will. They might legitimately say, IS THIS BOURBON?. I would reply YES, and I would buy it again.

Now, lads and lassies (should there be any), let us examine the proposed corrective to the weaknesses of MK, by name, that would be Russell's Reserve Single Barrel at 110 proof.

A few years ago (I remind you that at my age, time has lost most of its meaning for me as a measure of anything) WT released RR as a Single Barrel at 110 proof. Thus did they correct the mistake they made when a few years earlier they tried to sneak one in on those of us who loved RR at 101 proof by reducing it to 90 proof. This (opinion time) newer release of RR Single Barrel came out with an increase in cost to those of us who consider bourbon one of life's necessities, yet are not alcoholics (I doubt that alcoholics are so choosy......... and are not as full of shit as are we bourbon cognoscenti). WT's accountants, who must always poke about into these matters along with marketeers, knew what they were about, and also knew how, in most cases, to cover their asses in a business that is both booming, and risky because of the lead time in making bourbon, and the volatility of the market as regards alcoholic spirits. The preceding editorial comments were brought to you free of any charge other than that of your wasted time.

RR Single Barrel is the best bourbon WT offers because it embodies the things that make WT one of the best whiskies (or spirits of any kind) in the world......... a bit of the defining characteristics of American whiskey, the rye bite, and the barrel vanilla and maple sweetness from the new charred barrels, in an exceptionally clean and smooth spirit. That one finds so many aromas and flavors in WT bourbons....... oak, leather, nuts, chocolate, citrus, and whatever your own nose, mood, and desires find there, is why WT bourbons command such respect.

Now, as some of you know, a knock on American whiskies, as opposed to that one made where there are as many sheep as people (maybe more?), is that they are too sweet. For my part, this is where the strength of the older bourbons lies, the tannins manage that sweetness with a measured amount of their bitterness. Ah, then for me to find, or create, a bourbon that has the wonderful rich flavors that come from the barrel (think RR Single Barrel at 110 proof) and at the same time having the subtlety of a proper dose of the tannins to control that very sweetness, and carry the lot across the full mouth and throat (think MK at 17 years of age) is bourbon at its best.

So, here, have a sip of 50% RR Single barrel and 50% MK, a bourbon that is 98.4 proof and is near perfection. It is smooth (an almost over used word, but still of some value), rich, oaky, with a cleansing rye bite, and enough tannins to tote the full load home. It is not, and never was intended to be, as subtle as Cognac, nor does it have the vaunted smokey softness of Scotch. But, it is of a piece with the American character, just as Cognac is of a piece with the French character, and Scotch is of a piece with the Scotch character.

For that few of you who happen to be still interested and/or awake, I thank you for your patience with me. I hope what I have written holds some interest for you, that has been its primary purpose. I think bourbon deserves some respect, this is my way of showing that respect.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
Mike
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Re: Wild, WILD TURKEY

Unread postby RandyG » Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:53 pm

Excellent write up Mike. I picked up a Master's Keep a little while back (about $120) and might pick up another after reading this. I thought the MK was good but not $120 good. With Russel's Reserve Single Barrel around $60, a 50/50 comes in at $90. Better price. Better whiskey. Yep, gonna have to try it. Maybe try something with the new rare breed as well.

Cheers,
Mr. G
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Re: Wild, WILD TURKEY

Unread postby Mike » Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:55 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Randy. I came back to the MK after a few days, and I still like it, but it definitely has that astringency that comes from a bit too much barrel time. BTW, I also paid $120 for mine. Let us know if you find any difference between using Rare Breed and RR. I considered using RB, but I have always liked RR just a bit better.

Also I tried upping the RR to 70%, which ups the proof of the mixture to about 103. I prefer the 70% RR mixture. That makes it, strange to say I know, a slightly softer whiskey because the astringency does not hold on quite as much. You might want to try this too.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
Mike
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Posts: 2231
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:36 pm
Location: Savannah, GA

Re: Wild, WILD TURKEY

Unread postby RandyG » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:44 pm

I only mention [the current] Rare Breed because it tastes thin and young to me. I would think the MK would do well in bettering both of these flaws.

On another note, I here tell there is another Master's Keep coming out soon. This one is labeled "Decades" and will come in at 104 proof. Hope I get a chance to try this one.

Cheers Friend
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