Wild Turkey Rare Breed (56.4% ABV)
Wild Turkey Distillery
Taste score: 92
Category: American Straight Bourbon, NAS, Cask Strength
Whisky Cabinet Score: ★ ★ ★ ☆
Long-time whisky drinkers hate the youth of today. These old-time bourbon drinkers started getting grumpy years ago when Pappy become exclusive. But let's face it, Pappy was "that pretentious stuff some celebrity chef-turned-tv-personality drank."
W.L. Weller 12 wasn't the type of bourbon to get excited over, but you'd have it on the porch well enough if someone offered it to you. It used to be $30. Now it sells for as much as $150 when you can find it. You rarely can. Elmer T. Lee continues to be adored. Whisky enthusiasts chase it down and peck it from store shelves as though it was made of gold.
"Well, at least there's Wild Turkey Rare Breed," I could see one of these old-time bourbon drinkers saying. College kids shoot it, and people mix it with coke and ice, and sweet tea, and sometimes those pretentious snobs drink it out of a Glencairn glass. But at least it's still available.
In a world where the old darling bourbons can't keep up with demand, the unpretentious Wild Turkey Distillery continues to pump out excellent whisky. The distillery mostly makes younger whiskies. Sure, they have Master's Keep 17 Years Old, but we all know that legend Jimmy Russell scuffs at that older stuff. Jimmy Russell's son Eddie is behind the rye, and the older whiskies, and the premium Russell's Reserve brand. Eddie likes the older higher proof bourbons and ryes. Jimmy is said to stick to Wild Turkey 101.
While I don't have any facts to back this up, Rare Breed is the Wild Turkey release that seems to be the perfect compromise between father and son. Rare Breed is a mix of old and young whiskies. It's blend of 6, 8, and 12 year old barrels that are bottled at cask strength (no water added). It's not as hoity toity as Russell's Reserve, but it's a step up from Wild Turkey 101.
It would be best if those pretentious Glencairn whisky drinkers don't find out about it, but let's face it, they already have. I spent a wonderful five days sipping on Wild Turkey Rare Breed while in Kentucky. I used a Glencairn glass, of course, which I brought with me from Toronto knowing the Airbnb I was staying at wouldn't have "proper" glassware. This is a great daily sipper, with some edge.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed is released in batches. This review is for the 2015 release that was bottled at 56.4% ABV. The Whiskey Jug has done a vertical of Wild Turkey Rare Breed that I recommend checking out (our scores do differ).
Nose: Vanilla, cinnamon sprinkled dark caramel, lemon zest, nutmeg, and a distant note of charred buttery steak.
Palate: A bourbon that has no weak notes. The high flavours are rich caramel and peppery spice. The nuttiness on the nose comes through toward the middle and end, with an intense heated spice that settled on the tongue for a wonderful finish. Dried fruit and honey sweetness linger pleasantly. The charred notes come through like that last bite of a delicious fat buttery steak. A spicy burn brings the heat, and the zest lightens the drink.
Conclusion: Brash and sophisticated, with the “oomph” of flavour that delivers wonderfully while maintaining class and character. It's not a "heavy" whisky, and thus perfectly approachable. A rare whisky that's both a crowd favourite among casual whisky drinkers, and those obsessed with whisky.
*Whisky Cabinet Rating Explained:
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆ Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★ Extraordinary, memorable, and original