Well known for their 101 proof bourbon (SMM rating: 9.0), the folks from Wild Turkey apparently wanted to confuse the hell out consumers even further with another 80-something proof bourbon in their namesake whiskey lineup. Let’s try to get this straightened out. The Wild Turkey Bourbon line has the classic 101. They also have an 80 proof. Did the new Wild Turkey 81 take the place of the 80? Not exactly.
The 80 proof whiskey still exists. The 81 proof bourbon came about because Wild Turkey wanted to offer consumers a bolder, spicier bourbon than the 80 proof, yet one that was not quite as full flavored as the 101. Like Goldilocks it appears they were going for “just right”. In order to accomplish this, 81 is made from barrels between 6-8 years old that have a bolder flavor profile than the original 80.
How does Wild Turkey 81 fare?
Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon, 40.5% abv (81 Proof), $18
Wild Turkey 81 has a very straightforward and familiar nose at first. Flavors of caramel and vanilla intermingle with fragrant corn. There’s a good punch of cinnamon red hot candy that livens up the experience. On the palate this whiskey shines a bit brighter. It is only moderately sweet with a solid balance of oak and spice character. Light caramel hits first at the front of the mouth before drying quickly. Cinnamon spice takes over from mid palate on through to a dry, clean finish that’s fairly lively with some heat, toasted oak, vanilla, and strong black tea. This is not overly complex stuff, but honest and straight forward with its delivery.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: (8.0 Very Good/Excellent)
Frankly, in my opinion this release probably comes off as sort of unnecessary to some. Please don’t mistake me. It’s quite good. Considering the price it’s a great value and something you can reach for when mixing drinks or neat sipping. Does it accomplish Wild Turkey’s goal? Yes it does. That said, I’m afraid they may have muddied their Wild Turkey Bourbon line a little bit in the process. However, if you are a WT fan and want something with a little more oomph in the 80 proof range – this is a good place to start.