Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon

Wild Turkey 81

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

81 Proof

It seems in a world where bourbon has become the star of the spirits show, some of the old guard’s less exciting offerings are getting overlooked.  For better or for worse, the world’s palate is evolving to appreciate bolder, higher proof, super-aged bourbon whiskeys.  I wanted to take it back a notch and sit down with a cheapish, low-proof, tried and true bourbon, and I’ve chosen Wild Turkey 81 for that purpose.

I myself am guilty of the same thing–I really never think about drinking this bourbon anymore.  I bought a handle of it months ago at the beach, drank a lot of it, and forgot about it.  The truth of the matter is it’s not that exciting, but there is some beauty in that.

This particular expression came out a few years ago as a replacement for the standard Wild Turkey 80 proof bourbon.  I’ve never actually tasted that one, though I did see a dusty bottle of it the other day and I’m regretting passing it up, if for no other reason than that I’d love to side-by-side taste these two.  From what I gather, Wild Turkey wanted to create a bolder, spicier version of their standard 80 proof bourbon, plus they are using barrels aged 6-8 years (as opposed to 4 years for the 80 proof).  They needed to distinguish the two marketing-wise so they changed the bottling proof to 81, a smart move because the 80 proof was not that popular.

On the nose I get leather, orange, oak, and caramel.  It’s really not a very exciting nose though, kinda muted.  Tasting this, I know it’s the familiar Wild Turkey mash bill, a little spicy, oily in the mouth with a lot of leather, one I bet I could pick out of a line-up and at least say “that’s Wild Turkey something or other.”  The cinnamon carries over nicely, lots of sweet corn and spice.  Finishes woody and uneventful.

For most people, Wild Turkey means Wild Turkey 101, which is a great bourbon that I would love to sit down with and do a legit tasting of sometime.  This 81 expression is decent, and maybe I’m just so excited about too many other bourbons to give it it’s proper due, but it’s just not doing it for me like I want it to.  Still love you Jimmy…

Rating: 6.4 / 10

Bought at an ABC Store in Asheville, NC for $21.99

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