Wild Turkey 81 Proof Bourbon

  • Rating: 7
  • Value: 6
Ingredients: , ,
Proof: 81 (40.5 %)
Age: Blend of 6 to 8 year old bourbons
Price: $20 750 ML
Price Range:
Bottle of Wild Turkey 81 Proof Bourbon

Value brand/expression. I won’t say disappointing, but I would have expected better from Wild Turkey.


Notes: One of the arguably larger distillers in Kentucky of bourbon and rye, Wild Turkey is located in Lawrenceburg , Kentucky. Wild Turkey has produced a number of outstanding whiskies over the years in single barrel and small batch formats, but is probably best known for its idiosyncratic proof release  the 101. Known as Hunter S. Thompson bourbon of choice, Featured in “The Bad Lieutenant ” and many other movies known all over the worlds the tipple of choice for  hardened connoisseurs of hard but tasty bourbon. There have been many notable expressions from  this bourbon distillery  both in quality and high proof strengths  – long before barrel proof became a much more mainstream thing.

This is not that whiskey.

This is a new release more in line with the European model/standard of spirits proof which is usually 80 proof rather than the American of 100 at 81 proof to retain their character and distinctiveness. This is a slightly older design, when it first came out, now I notice they have dropped the 81, possibly to deemphasize the lower proof ?

This is a blend of 6 to 8 year old bourbons that were aged in barrels that were charred at the deepest level number 4 sometimes referred to as “alligator Char ” as the wood resembles an alligators skin in texture. I now understand that they may have expanded that age range  ( downwards) to 5 to 8 year old whiskey to meet demand. Check your label.

Appearance: Clear amber like color more yellow than red in the bottle. In the glass it is quite wheat straw yellow. On swirling it leaves medium thickness oily coat and a few legs.

First Impression: Corn sweetness backed by rye spice, mint, oak, vanilla,

Taste: sweet start with mint and spice following on, the oak is very much in evidence and is a bit rough around the edges, Almost a carbon/coal aftertaste.

Drinks: Not really sure about what I think, other than it’s already pretty dilute when you start. It has a nice backbone but is fairly light in other ways. Adding ice or shaking of course dilutes it even more ( 20 seconds of shaking is about 25 % dilution as a rough average. Stirring led to marginally less problems but overall a bit disappointing. Frankly if you a going to sip it, especially if you are starting out on bourbon, great , this one is for you. Mixing – use the 101 it is only about 10 cents more per drink .

Bottle: Clear glass with slightly flared base attractive graphics on a paper label.Embossed glass seal on shoulder/pommel of bottle. Back label has short story of new expression. Closure is a bit complicated – clear think wrap capsule over a paper ribbon and a foil Wild Turkey on top of a ribbed plastic topped real cork closure. Helpfully it has a small black pull tab to tear the capsule open. Thoughtfully done package, and nothing like the sound of pulling a real cow from a bottle.

Other: The value to price ratio on this compared to the 101 is not good. If you do the math on the proof there is not a great deal of difference on the price for 20% more proof whiskey . If you calculate the taxes they save too, they are making millions on this lower proof.

Final Thoughts: Balanced against the price it is not a bad deal , but somewhat limited as to what you can do with it. Inoffensive, decently made, but these are not words I would have used in the past – Wild Turkey was a lot better. This is more like the Old Crow as it now is (post 1975) a cheap, mass produced whiskey that tastes young and over naked. If left alone for a few more years it would be much better.Also the low proof makes it a bit problematical for a number of mixed drinks.


Sort reviews by: