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American Spirit: Wild Turkey Bourbon from Ripy to Russell Book Review

American Spirit: Wild Turkey Bourbon from Ripy to Russell Book Review

When I first started out on my whiskey journey, I poked around on a lot of blogs, websites and the notorious subreddit r/bourbon. 

Early on, I identified voices that I considered to be the experts on particular areas of American whiskey and came back to them often.  I first learned about David Jennings, aka “rarebird101” on Reddit and visited his website shortly thereafter. 

His wealth of knowledge is undeniable and so it came as no surprise when I learned he was writing a book about all things Wild Turkey.  

This visual presentation and layout of the book is clean in style and somewhat subtle.  I would’ve expected a giant turkey to grace the cover, but that may have been too gaudy, so I appreciate the timeless design of the graphics and colors. 

The book’s size is just right and is easy to hold with one hand.  A quick flip of the pages reveals lots of professional photography laced throughout.  The first 1/3 of the book goes into detail on the origins of the Wild Turkey distillery in a way that is genuinely fascinating to read. 

The one interesting thing that stuck out to me was that American Spirit sometimes reads like David is sitting next to you, telling you a story about the Ripy’s, Austin, Nichol & Co. and the Russell’s

While this may seem like an atypical approach to some in the publication field, I think that this style resonates well with whiskey enthusiasts all over because telling the stories we’ve learned is how many of us pass on the knowledge of the drinks we love so much.  

I won’t go into too much of the history that is covered by this book, but it’s an easy enough read that everyone from the casual reader to the learned historian will come away satisfied. 

In my opinion, it left me wanting to read more by time the story concluded with what modern-day Wild Turkey looks like.  The sentimental touch that David gives at the end may not be appreciated by those that view whiskey as a liquid and nothing more, but it touches on the spirit of family and tradition that embodies what the bourbon industry is really all about.

Wild Turkey Products; Past and Present

David’s breakdown of most notable Wild Turkey products; past and present, foreign and domestic, is succinct enough to rekindle a die-hards love for them and educate those who may be new to the brand. 

The insights and reviews of these bottles ends with his acknowledgements section and what feels like a quarter of the book left to read. 

I thought it was peculiar that his acknowledgements didn’t come at the very end of the book, but as I turned the page, I realized that the remainder of the book contained nifty sections that included recommendations of equivalent Wild Turkey products to those produced by other distilleries, a cocktail recipe section and a very thorough timeline of events that occurred at the Lawrenceburg Distillery.

David started off with a passion for Wild Turkey that has led to years of research, writing and relationship building.  To finally see it all culminate into this book and to see him rise from fanboy to author has made our entire community of whiskey lovers proud. 

On a personal note, it was David’s persistence to me that I try a different product or his explanations into the different flavor characteristics of warehouses that eventually turned me to love and respect this brand as well. 

Final Thoughts

As I sat and read this book, I realized that this was something more than a love letter from David to Wild Turkey.  It was David’s way of making sure that if you never get a chance to meet him, that he has at least told you the story of why when it comes to American Spirits, there are none better than Wild Turkey.        

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