Tuesday, April 3, 2012
The Last Flight of the Wild Turkey: 101 Rye
This is the second in a series of joint reviews I'm doing with Jason at Sour Mash Manifesto and Tim at Scotch & Ice Cream. Our first review, as you may recall, was of the roundly panned Rebel Yell Bourbon. Today we hope to up the ante with Wild Turkey 101 Rye.
For years, Wild Turkey 101 has been a reliable, workhorse rye: cheap, available, good for cocktails or sipping neat. Recently Campari owned Wild Turkey announced that it would bring out a new 81 proof rye, and that the release of this new rye would result in shortages of 101, which makes sense since they only have so much rye and presumably they are using the same batches for the new 81. Sources seem to differ as to whether 101 will go away entirely or will be back once rye stocks are replenished.
I haven't tried good old Wild Turkey 101 Rye in a while, so consider this a goodbye (for now) tribute.
Wild Turkey 101 Rye, 50.5% abv ($20 if you can find it).
The 101 picks right up with a nice, spicy rye nose. The nose is so full of rye spice that it's much closer to LDI or one of the Canadian straight ryes than your typical 51% Kentucky rye. Think pine, brine and the kitchen spice cabinet (you know, that blend of all the spices in there). The palate doesn't disappoint with its rye strength either. It's less sweet than the versions I recall from years past but full of punch. It starts with a big rye hit with a touch of sweetness, gets a bit soapy mid way through and then trails off into a hot rye finish. Water brings out some bitter notes, so I say leave it out.
There's not much complex about this rye but it's got everything you need for a general rye whiskey, does wonders in cocktails and there are few better deals around. Let's hope it spreads its wings again soon.