Wild Turkey Rare Breed Review

Is Wild Turkey Rare Breed That Good?

Meet Luke

Luke is a Level I Certified Whiskey Specialist with a passion for exploring and unearthing the best whiskeys around. Luke has a preference for Rye whiskeys but has tasted over 250 different whiskeys to date varying from bourbons to scotches. He continues to expand upon his whiskey knowledge by tasting dozens of bottles monthly and reviewing them here on Barrel and Brew as he pursues his Masters of Whiskey certification.

Wild Turkey is one of the most popular and respected whiskeys around. That’s largely due to Master Distiller and Bourbon Hall of Famer Jimmy Russel. If you look at many lists of best budget bourbons, you’ll see a whole lot of people recommend Wild Turkey 101. For just $25 or less, you’ll be able to pick up a bottle of 101 proof bourbon that many think is the best high-proof, budget bourbon available.

Now, me…? I’m not a huge fan of Wild Turkey. I find it to be a tad thin and sharp. however, I do appreciate Wild Turkey Longbranch. Today, though, we’re going to find out if paying $60 is worth it to get Wild Turkey Rare Breed. It is generally regarded as the best WT has to offer, so I’m going to put it to the test.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Review


  • Spirit: Straight Bourbon, Barrel Proof
  • Owned By: Campari Group
  • Distilled By: Wild Turkey Distillery
  • Aged: NAS, 4+ years. Thought to be 6-12 years
  • ABV: 58.4%, 116.8 Proof
  • Mashbill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley
  • Price: $55-65

Rare Breed uses the same mashbill as all the other bourbons produced by Wild Turkey, but instead of being proofed down to 81 proof, or even 101 proof, Rare Breed is cask strength, meaning no water is used to dilute the whiskey.

While the bottle does not contain an age statement, it’s said to be a blend of 6 to 12 year old barrels.

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Differences Between Rare Breed and 101

The primary difference between Wild Turkey Rare Breed and WT 101 is simply cask selection – age and quality – and bottling proof.

101 comes in at 101 proof, of course, while Rare Breed is 116.8 proof. Second, Rare Breed is going to use older casks, 6-12 years, and casks viewed as higher quality, either due to the quality of the wood or position within the rickhouse.

Tasting Notes

It’s time to jump into the important stuff. Is Wild Turkey Rare Breed good? Is it worth the price, or should you stick with 101? Let’s pour myself a dram and find out!

Nose: The first thing I noticed when nosing the whiskey is it’s rich and oily character. Caramel, kettlecorn, cherries, nougat, and oak. It’s a quintessential bourbon nose, and a very good one at that.

Palate: It’s oily with cherries and caramel until a sharp pepper and cinnamon spice comes in. Some leather and tobacco shows up throughout the sip.

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Finish: A nice finish that lasts quite long. It starts with cinnamon and pepper with a touch of orange and mint. Oak and vanilla stay around once the others fade.

WT Rare Breed Tasting Notes

Taste Summary

I’m not in love with Wild Turkey Rare Breed (at least for what I paid for it – $67), but I can’t deny that it is a very good, accessible, and (sometimes) affordable cask strength option.

The first sip was definitely the harshest, but after it coated my mouth a bit the sharpness fell off. The best thing, for me, was adding a splash of water. At 116.8 proof, there is a lot of room to proof it down a bit to whatever you desire. However, at that point you could argue to save $30 and just get Wild Turkey 101. I much prefer Rare Breed with a splash of water to WT 101, though.

If I were to make a comparison for Rare Breed it’d definitely be Buffalo Trace – just a cask strength option of it, of course. The leather, tobacco, and punch of pepper and spice was eerily similar.

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As I mentioned, this is a good, accessible, and (mostly) affordable bottle of barrel proof bourbon. The kicker is, at what price can you get a bottle for? A couple of years ago you could get a bottle for $50 or less and, at that price point it’s an easy buy. If you can still find it for $50-55, then the value is 100% there.

I could’ve driven 25 minutes to get it for $58 – which isn’t terrible, but my local store had it for $66.99. At $67, there are a lot of other options.


As someone who isn’t a huge fan of Wild Turkey, I must admit that Rare Breed is leagues above their standard and 101 proof offerings. The issue for me is the price point. For around $55, I think this is a great bourbon as barrel proof whiskey can get quite expensive.

Personally, I think the best value play within the Wild Turkey range is Longbranch, but for the right price, Rare Breed can make a strong case.

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