Origin: Kentucky (USA)
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Ageing casks: American Virgin Oak
Added coloring: No
Owner: Campari Group
Average price: € 45.00
Official website: wildturkeybourbon.com
You can’t drink only Scotch, and since we are people open to all experiences (more or less), after Italy we are again diverting from the perfidious Albion to take a tour of the former colonies, drinking a whiskey (with an e, please) from those barrels in which our beloved Scotch is aged.
Founded in 1855, the Wild Turkey distillery is a 100% American brand… except for the fact that it’s owned by Italians, but don’t say it too loud or Trump might get upset.
In fact, the distillery has been in European hands since 1980, and in 2000 it suffered an extremely serious fire that reduced more than 17,000 barrels to smoke, causing an environmental catastrophe because the whiskey set fire to the surrounding woods and contaminated the water in the nearby river. Purchased shortly afterwards by the Campari Group, whiskey production was continued first in Indiana and then in Arkansas, returning to the original site (and new distillery) eleven years later. And one cannot help but think of the recent fire at Jim Beam, also in Kentucky, whose damage to the environment was fortunately contained.
In 2016, Matthew McConaughey became creative director of the distillery, leading to a major revival of the brand and creating, last year, its first bottling, Longbranch.
This, like all Wild Turkey Bourbons, is made from a composition of rye, corn and malted barley, vatting from various vintages between 6 and 12 years old, one of the oldest cask strength produced (since 1991). Gradation and packaging have changed over time, this is a pre-2015 bottle.
A beautiful coppery colour welcomes us into the glass, together with alcohol that immediately stings the nostrils. Once past the alcoholic barrier (not so thick, all things considered), the sweet and pungent scents of the distillate arrive: vanilla, corn, candied orange, pepper… a warm and seductive profile that, when left to breathe, better balances its sweetness.
On the palate, you are inundated with butter and caramel, with a very smooth mellowness. The alcoholic bite is there but pushes the spicy side, while letting it breathe you can still perceive vanilla, that of pipe tobacco. More candied fruit in a profile that appropriately mixes sweet and peppery.
The finish is long, of pepper and caramel.
Going from Scotch to Bourbon may not be easy, some of the scents may be reminiscent of those you are used to, but the presence of rye and corn veers everything in very different directions.
A warmly sweet, almost wintery glass that might just win you over.