I’ve been fascinated to learn about the history of Wild Turkey’s history of rye whiskey production. It seems to me the more I learn about it, the more that it’s obvious that Wild Turkey has considered rye whiskey as their red-headed stepchild. But with the changing of the guard imminent in the future, Jimmy is losing the battle with how much the brand creates and bottles of it. No longer is Wild Turkey rye such a limited item.
When Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon launched, the rye version followed shortly thereafter sporting a green label and an alcohol content of 104 proof. I do not know the exact date that RRSiB Rye bottles began to pop up, but Rarebird101 talks about distinctive differences between the 2015/2016 bottlings versus the modern day ones. So now every time I find a RRSiB Rye in the store, I carefully hold up the bottle to the light trying to find a bottle from 2015 or 2016. No luck so far.
But this bottle in front of me is LL/HG, which means it was bottled in July of 2019. The age isn’t stated (but it’s probably around 6 to 8 years old) and it is proofed down to 104 proof. The mashbill is the only rye mashbill that WT uses, which contains 52% rye (which makes essentially a barely legal rye). With a high corn content and being aged in Kentucky, what exactly does RRSiB Rye bring to the table? I sat down with my VERY FIRST BOTTLE to find out for myself.
Nose: Sweet caramel toffee and vanilla custard. A sweet cream pat of butter on top of cornbread with lots of cinnamon and clove. A little bit of fragrant wood like oak and cedar
Palate: Cherry juice, cinnamon red hots, oak, tobacco, a little bit of peppermint, thick and chewy raw honeycomb. The tannins are really present and well integrated with tobacco and charred oak. There’s black pepper, mint and some pine needles.
Finish: Deep and rich, this is a very rewarding finish. There’s pipe tobacco, peppermint and gingerbread all hitting the heavy notes. There’s also a decent amount of rye character with fresh hay and pine needles at the end that reminds you that you’re drinking rye. The chewy caramel keeps the long finish sweet until the very end.
Wild Turkey is actually a very good rye whiskey producer, who would’ve thought? Admittedly, my Kentucky Rye experience is not as varied as most and my experiences with what I thought about them have not been as good. I am an MGP and Canadian rye whiskey lover to the end. But this Wild Turkey rye has opened my eyes to the richness, spice and depth of a rye whiskey that is produced within the Bluegrass State. I can’t wait for Wild Turkey to bring back their single barrel program for it and that’s when I think that it’ll really blow up.
For more information and further explanation of Wild Turkey’s history with rye whiskey, I highly encourage you to visit rarebird101.com to learn more from fellow reviewer and Wild Turkey’s biggest fan, David Jennings.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary
6 | Very Good | Better than average
7 | Great | Well above average
8 | Excellent | Exceptional
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close
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