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Wild Turkey 101 (Kentucky Straight Bourbon)

Review: Wild Turkey 101 (Kentucky Straight Bourbon)  89.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka The Rum Howler)
Published April 18, 2018

Wild Turkey produces their bourbon from a mash bill which includes three grains: corn, barley, and rye. This mash bill is said to have a relatively high proportion of rye which gives the whiskey brand its signature spicy kick.  Wild Turkey 101, rather than being bottled at the regular 40 % alcohol by volume is instead bottled at a higher proof, 50.5% alcohol by volume or 101 proof. Although the spirit carries no age statement, the Wild Turkey Website informs us that this Kentucky Straight Bourbon is blended from whiskeys aged from five to eight years (minimum 5 years) in what the company refers to as their ‘famous #4 alligator char‘ American Oak barrels.

In the Bottle  4/5

Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon arrives in a standard bar-room whisky bottle shown to the left. These bottles are meant to be easy to grab, easy to hold, and most importantly, easy to pour. The label with its iconic ‘Wild Turkey’ logo makes the whiskey easy to recognize on the barshelf, and adds a certain ambiance. The bottle and the label seem to suit the unpretentious nature of the Wild Turkey spirit.

In the Glass  9/10

In the glass, the Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon shows me a hue which has just started to turn that corner from amber towards a darker copper. When I tilt my glass and give it a slow twirl, I see some stubborn leglets which form thick droplets that crawl slowly back down.

The initial breezes above the glass bring forward an overt oakiness with a sweet rum-like caramel rising alongside the and cedar spice. Honeycomb, vanilla, and bits of maple join in. I let the glass breathe and the oak continues to build. There is a nice fruitiness which manifests as canned apricots and orange marmalade, as well as almond scents that are moving towards marzipan. It takes a while, but I begin to notice both corn and rye notes; however, it is the lush oak and toffee which has most of my attention.

In the Mouth 54/60

When I take my first sip, I find an abundance of rye flavour joined by a light rum-like caramel, firm vanilla flavours and spicy oak sap and tannins. Although the whiskey is rye-forward, I also taste a firm presence of corn meandering alongside. Light flavours of maple join with the caramel, and some delicious baking spices (vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon) accent the oak and the rye making the spirit a delicious sipper. Underneath I taste some orange peel zest and marmalade, a touch of hay-like grassiness, herbal (menthol-like) tobacco, and a warm presence of almond.

In the Throat 13/15

I would describe the whisky as medium bodied with a mid length finish. Rum-like caramel and spicy oak join together and leave a path of baking spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves) ebbing on the palate after the swallow. Some chocolate and coffee-like flavours settle in as well with a touch of cooling menthol punctuating the ending.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

Wild Turkey Bourbon (which I enjoy very much) is bottled at 40.5 % alcohol by volume; Wild Turkey 101 is bottled at 50.5 % alcohol by volume and this higher concentration of alcohol also represents more highly concentrated bourbon flavours which give the spirit depth and character which appeals to me. In fact, I quickly grew attached to the over-proof spirit, and it became my preferred nightcap spirit to sip before during the cool March evenings in the early Spring.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Cocktail

This recipe (and Photo) is courtesy Campari America:


Wild Mustang

3 oz. Wild Turkey 101
6 oz. fresh squeezed Grapefruit Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 sprig Rosemary

Fill a tall glass with Ice
Add Wild Turkey 101, Grapefruit Juice and Angostura Bitters
Garnish with a sprig of Rosemary.
Enjoy Responsibly

Note: If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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