Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Bourye Serendipity: Wild Turkey Forgiven

Back in 2010, High West shook up the whiskey world with its Bourye, a blend of straight bourbon and ryes.  Before High West came along, a blend of whiskeys meant, well, blended whiskey, a mix of high proof neutral spirit (i.e. vodka) and whiskey that was pretty much always crappy.  Of course, many bourbons and ryes were blends of different barrles, or vattings as they used to call them in Scotland, but no one in the modern era had marketed a blend of just straight bourbon and rye.  Bourye was quite good and deservedly popular, later spawning Son of Bourye.

Now Wild Turkey is getting into the Bourye game with Forgiven, a blend of straight bourbon and rye whiskeys.   Forgiven is composed of 78% six year old bourbon and 22% four year old rye.  Oh, and there's a back story about how this whole thing was the result of an accident...blah, blah, blah.  For the same story, see Ardbeg Serendipity or, for that matter, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Wild Turkey Forgiven, Batch #302, 45.5% abv ($50)

The nose is really nice with honey, floral notes, and spice, like laying in a spring meadow.  The palate has some of those same honey notes along with clove, but then it falls flat and develops a soapy note.  The finish has some bitterness on the palate and some nice spice on the nose.

The nose sets up an expectation for a really interesting flavor balance, but the palate doesn't deliver.  This surprised me since Wild Turkey makes high quality bourbon and rye, but if you're looking for a bourbon/rye blend, I'd stick with High West.  Perhaps Wild Turkey should have gone for a more Eastwoodian name: Unforgiven.

78%, 6-year-old Bourbon and 22% rare, high-proof Rye - See more at:


Matthew J. Brown said...

This was almost exactly my experience. The nose is quite beautiful, while the palate is pretty blah. I didn't get the soapy note, though, but perhaps I'm not sensitive to it. It certainly isn't worth the price of admission.

EllenJ said...

It's not that Forgiven is bad; it's not. It's just that it's not really as "unique" and original as the Campari folks would like to believe it is.

Wild Turkey Bourbon's mash bill is 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malt.
- 78% of the whiskey in Forgiven is made from that mixture.
Wild Turkey Rye's mash bill is 23% corn, 65% rye, and 12% malt.
- 22% of the whiskey in Forgiven is made from that mixture.

That means that the final product (Forgiven) is derived from 65.6% corn, 24.4% rye, and 12% malt. Basically a high-rye bourbon, if it had been orginally mashed and fermented at those percentages.

As a comparison, MGP's high-rye bourbon is 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malt, and is the bourbon of choice for several of the NDP bottlers who use their products, including High West and Smooth Ambler. Many of those, however, are using MGP high-rye bourbon that has been aged much longer than just 4 to 6 years.

Sorry, Campari, it's a nice try, but it's not going to work. Those who associate Wild Turkey with either excellent bourbon or excellent rye won't be quick to try something unfamiliar, and those who WOULD appreciate a new kind of spirit are more likely already drinking Smooth Ambler, Rendevous, High West, Corsair, and other offerings from smaller producers/merchants who are developing their own reputation for this sort of thing.

sam k said...

Hmmm...let's see. A 750 of Wild Turkey 101 bourbon is about twenty bucks, the same for a 750 of WT 81 rye. Combine 78% of bottle "A" with 22% of bottle "B" to create a blend with an ABV of approximately 45% alcohol, and you'll still have a total of 750 mls of rye and bourbon remaining to consume separately.

Total cost: $40...for TWO bottles. I hope I can be "forgiven" for figuring this out on my own. Yeesh.

sam k said...

Sorry...I totally missed EllenJ's answer porior to my posting. At least we're on the same page.