Review: Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary Bourbon

Wild Turkey released a limited edition bourbon in celebration of Jimmy Russell’s 60 years with Wild Turkey. As Master Distiller, Mr. Russell has been responsible for providing the whiskey loving world with great whiskey all those decades. It’s pretty remarkable. The Diamond Anniversary Bourbon is a blend of 13 and 16 year old bourbon from barrels selected by Eddie Russell, Jimmy’s son and the other Master Distiller. Incidentally, Eddie has been with Wild Turkey for 34 years himself – pretty impressive (but it’s not 60). Let’s tuck into this one and see what it’s got.

wild-turkey-diamondWild Turkey Diamond Anniversary Bourbon, Barrel 45.5% abv (91 proof), $125/bottle
Color: Medium Amber/Golden
Nose: Honey, dried apricot, orange, brown sugar, sweet vanilla & floral notes, dry toasted oak.
Palate: Razor sharp and elegant. Honey, caramel, vanilla, bright orange, fresh mint, chile heat, cinnamon, and dry oak.
Finish: Medium finish, dry, lingering caramel sweetness, bitter char, and barrel spices.
Overall: This whiskey is an absolute beauty – presenting both bright, balanced, clean flavors while being extremely complex and nuanced. On top of that it is effortlessly drinkable. All of this quality comes at a price though – great whiskey abounds for this much dough. Whether it’s worth it to you or not depends completely on your whiskey budget and how much you enjoy this style. If you can stomach the price, you will be rewarded with an outstanding pour. Here’s to Jimmy Russell and a fitting salute to 60 years.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.3 (Superb/Outstanding)

26 Comments

  1. Franco Campanella says:

    Great take Jason. But, for the money I might need to go with Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel. What say you?

  2. Wade says:

    Let me guess, they sent you a free bottle to review.

  3. Andrew says:

    @Wade – Jason has always been upfront in regards to any samples he has received — which is rare if ever. If not mentioned then he purchased the bottle with his own money.

  4. Wade, 90+% of my reviews are purchases made with my own money. The Diamond Anniversary bourbon was purchased in Franklin, TN for $129.99. I listed it as $125 MSRP because that is the actual MSRP on the whiskey. TN is typically a little more expensive. If it’s a sample bottle I note that at the bottom of the review.

    Whiskey reviewers that give good reviews because they want to keep the sample train rolling are out there. That’s their choice. One of the reason my reviews of limited release bottlings take a bit longer (outside of my noted time constraints right now) is I have to wait until they get to my area. But I like it that way. I receive samples, and I pick and chose what I review based the merits of the whiskey. I don’t have time to review everything I receive – sample or no.

    Hope that clarifies that. Maybe I should start keeping receipts for proof of purchase! :)

  5. Wade says:

    I very much appreciate that you buy at retail most of what you review; that’s the way it should be for all reviewers (or fully disclosed if not the case). Now that we know you are not a shill, then I can totally disagree with you on this review. This was a very disappointing release IMHO. The proof is too low for a WT product and the price was way out of line. The finish was very muddled; overall I would prefer regular WT 101 over this. If we look back at WT limited releases Tribute was fantastic, American Spirit was very good, Tradition a big step down but still solid, and now this Diamond. They are going down in quality and up in price. I sure hope others try this at a bar 1st before they go a bottle based on your review.

  6. Sam Komlenic says:

    Wade, taste is a very subjective thing. I’ve read positive reviews of whiskeys I’ve disliked and negative reviews of whiskeys I’ve loved. We’re all different and that’s part of the experience.

    Most reviews of this I’ve seen have been less than compelling, but who’s to say who is right and wrong? Not me.

  7. Ryan says:

    Wade, who is “we”? Yours is the only scornful voice here.

  8. phillip says:

    I wish I could say that price is not an object in my bourbon buying decisions, but unfortunately, it is. I am a long time, loyal fan of Wild Turkey Bourbon 101. I presently am paying $21 for a 750ml. bottle. In a prior review, Jason rates the 101 a solid 9.0 and my taste buds strongly agree with that. So, I can buy 6 bottles of 101 for $125, or 1 bottle of the Diamond Anniversary. Unless I hit the Powerball lottery, I’m afraid I won’t be able to sample the DA edition but will continue buying the 101.

  9. Nelson says:

    I just got a bottle of this stuff. The review is spot on. The family resemblance to other Wild Turkey products is easily noted. If you can afford it, go get some.

  10. Wes says:

    I am a long time fan of WT 101 and it is hard to beat at any price in my book, especially when I pay $18 at trader joes. The most I’ve ever spent on whisky was $70, and that was scotch. While I probably won’t be sampling this one, it is fun to hear about them. Thanks Jason.

  11. GQuiz says:

    The beauty of a site like this one is finding someone with a similar taste profile when it comes to Bourbon. I’ve enjoyed the tour of tastes and sport many of Jason’s gems in my liquor cabinet. I don’t care how he gets his bourbon. I just want his opinion because I trust him. In the end, that’s all that matters. 125 is a little rich for me. But if I find it in a bar, I’ll try it because Jason recommends it. Looking forward to the next installment of the Manifesto. Cheers!

  12. Great review Jason. I appreciate you taking the time to periodically review whiskeys as your budget and time commitments allow. Keep up the good work. It’s great having you back.
    -BourbonPike

  13. Texas says:

    Thanks for picking this one up and reviewing it, Jason. WT 101 for about a year and a half really seemed to go downhill. Seemed young and thin. The last couple of bottles I have bought have been great..rich, complex, and not thin at all. It makes their more expensive offerings seem like not to good of a deal. The only one I though that was much better than WT 101 was the American Spirit version that came out several years ago. I fortunate enough to get a glass of that. The price and the fact they didn’t bottle it at 101 proof makes me stay away from this one.

  14. Vince says:

    Hey Jason:

    I agree with some of your review but it appears you like this one more than I did. I think the finish is short to non-existent. The flavor profile is very nice but I would have loved to see this at 101 proof. Also, not that it impacts flavor, but I was really surprised at how light the color was for a mingling of 13 & 16 year old bourbon.

  15. Nick says:

    Unfortunately, Keeneland got the best of my money this weekend, and I did not get a chance to have a sip of this guy, although it was available (unlike OF Birthday, which seems to have some problems coming from the distributor). Despair.

  16. Southron says:

    I realize this probably doesn’t go here but I thought I might have a better chance of getting a response. I contacted Buffalo Trace about some of their products and in the discussion was told they are making an Ancient Ancient Age 8 year. I have not run across this in my area. Wonder if anyone else has. The information was from a Consumer Affairs Associate.
    Thanks.

  17. Nick says:

    AAA 8yr has been a Japan export for years, and it’s been debated that’s it’s the same as 10 star. Never seen it stateside. It’s 86proof.

  18. Sam Komlenic says:

    I was fortunate to taste the Diamond Anniversary at WhiskyFest New York on Wednesday, and I have to agree with Jason for the most part. I thought it was an exceptional bourbon.

    Eddie Russell told me that due to the age of the barrels chosen and their locations in the warehouses, he would not have been able to produce a 101 proof version of this, as many barrels were below that threshold. That may also explain the lighter color Vince mentions above.

    It was an honor being able to speak with both Eddie and Jimmy at the event. Jimmy has represented Wild Turkey at every WhiskyFest (in every city) since it began seventeen years ago. An enviable record for an exceptional man.

  19. Sam, glad to hear you were in NYC WhiskyFest. I need to get up to Chicago this year and taste some whisky with you if you plan on going.

    As for Diamond Annivesary – I can’t recall a review I’ve done that’s been more all over the place in terms of agreement. Obviously agreement isn’t what we shoot for, nor does it even matter, but the difference in opinion here is vast.

    The truth is this one is a sublime, elegant whiskey. It has a ton of flavor and complexity but it’s interweaved so graciously that some of that is lost I feel. As for the color – it’s not uncommon for very gently aged whiskeys, center and heart, lower level, to have this trademark of less intense color. The extremities of aging facilities offer some gems and some duds while the heart cuts just keep plugging along. Four Roses’ approach to aging is quite unique and smart if your goal is less surprise, reducing variables. Yes, even in a rack of 6 barrels high there are DEFINITE differences between top and bottom, but far less variance than a facility 6 stories high.

    Whiskey aging is fascinating stuff!

  20. Merrymash says:

    I’ve not doubt that this is a superb bourbon. But at this price point I’d much rather savor Russell’s Reserve 10yo and think on how to spend the 90 odd bucks I’ve saved.

  21. Justin Jarvis says:

    For that price you could get two bottles of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel. A very fine bourbon for the price. (Or Rare Breed even)

  22. Jeff says:

    Wasn’t even aware of this bourbon until I came upon your review. Kentucky Spirit and Russell’s Reserve are two of my favorites so I’m anxious to try this out.

    I also couldn’t agree more with your high rating on WT 101. It’s a shame the 101 has such a bad reputation amongst some. I think it’s the best value bourbon out there.

  23. H. Demonbreun says:

    Bought one and have not tasted it, thought I might wait until 2015 to open on my birthday. And yes it is pricey and I got one in Spring Hill, TN where I live. Also got lucky and got a bottle of Forgiven as well as Rarebreed.

  24. Lonnie says:

    I just picked up one of these autographed by the man himself, am I stupid if I open it up and drink it? I like wild turkey 101 (never bothered with any other versions) but just felt like for some reason I had to pick this up.

  25. H. Demonbreun says:

    No not really, if you want to sit it down for a while and look at the reviews. I have Wild Turkey 81 and 101 with a flask in each and they are about 4 years old and I just opened an amazing bottle of Jim Beam 12 year old Signature Select bourbon. So favorable, like a big spice bomb to me. And by the way I still have mine sitting collecting dust.

  26. Lady Sipper says:

    I would have liked to see a 101 proof on this, but honestly it is such a smooth, flavorful sipper that I’m quite content with this edition. A WT fan for over 30 years, this is the best I’ve tasted. The soft caramel and vanilla married with oak, deep and rich …you won’t be disappointed in this whether you sip it neat or on the rocks.