Wild Turkey 101 is the standard Wild Turkey whiskey. In 2021, the company was the #8 best selling American whiskey across the world. So, what is it about this high proof whiskey that has so many people drinking it? Is Wild Turkey a good whiskey? What is it distilled from? These are all questions we are going to answer.
Before we get into the specifics of this Kentucky Straight Bourbon, let’s talk a bit about the history of Wild Turkey and some of the things that make it special.
Wild Turkey History
In 1869, the Ripy brothers opened up a distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. It wasn’t until 70 years later, though, that Wild Turkey received it’s name. A company executive was sharing his whiskey with friends on a hunting trip in 1940. As you can guess, they were hunting wild turkey, and so, their drink of choice that weekend took on the name Wild Turkey.
Much of the companies success can be traced back to 1954 when Jimmy Russell was hired as master distiller. Russell is a third generation distiller and is still working as master distiller today making him the longest tenured master distiller in the world. Eddie Russell, Jimmy’s son, joined him as master distiller in 2015. While Wild Turkey isn’t “family owned”, they do have a father-son duo as master distillers, and to me, that’s pretty cool.
Lastly, in 2016 Wild Turkey began collaborating with Matthew McConaughey who took over as Creative Director. Just a couple years later, Wild Turkey released Longbranch which was a product of McConaughey and Eddie Russell.
What is Wild Turkey 101?
Now that we’ve covered some of the history, we can get into the specifics of what Wild Turkey is. I mentioned earlier that Wild Turkey is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon, so we’re going to talk about what that actually entails. Then we’ll discuss the mashbill and distilling practices of Wild Turkey.
What Does it Mean to be a Kentucky Straight Bourbon?
There’s really two things you need to know. What classifies as a bourbon? What classifies as a straight bourbon? Let’s cover bourbon first. Bourbon is an American whiskey much as scotch is a Scottish whiskey. Other than that, it must contain at least 51% corn and be barreled in new charred oak barrels. To say something is a Kentucky bourbon just means it was produced in Kentucky. While bourbon can be produced throughout all 50 states, some 95% of bourbon is made in Kentucky.
Now, to be a straight bourbon, there is only one extra step – aging. Straight bourbon must be aged a minimum of 2 years, and a minimum of 4 years if there is no age statement on the bottle. Wild Turkey, however, is aged 6-8 years.
Wild Turkey 101 Mashbill and Distilling
Wild Turkey 101 contains 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley which is a fairly typical bourbon mashbill. The unique thing about Wild Turkey is that their standard whiskey is 101 proof. Most Bourbons, at least most mass produced bourbons, are 80 proof and have higher proof selections. Wild Turkey, on the other hand, is only slightly diluted with water after the aging process.
Whiskeys come out of their barrels at a much higher ABV and then are watered down to the desired proof. Wild Turkey comes out of the barrel around 109 proof and is only watered down to 101 proof. This helps Wild Turkey be as consistent and close to their desired flavor profile as possible.
Wild Turkey 101 Flavor Profile
Now, we can get into why you’re really here. Is Wild Turkey good? what does it taste like? Below we’ll discuss the aroma, taste, and finish of Wild Turkey 101.
Nose: Aromas of vanilla and spice from the rye are immediately apparent. Light notes of oak and orange peel blend in with ethanol, as is typical among a 101 proof whiskey.
Palate: More basic than it is complex. Notes of rye, oak, and vanilla sit over a smooth mouthfeel.
Finish: Light spice and mint lingers over hints of orange and vanilla.
Wild Turkey 101 Price
Taste isn’t the only thing we consider when it comes to buying whiskey. Price is also a huge factor. So, let’s take a look at how much Wild Turkey 101 costs. As a note, prices can vary based on location and individual store.
- Wild Turkey 101 750ml: $19-22
- Wild Turkey 101 1.75L: $38-43
A 750ml of Wild Turkey 101 is right around $20 making it a fairly average priced bottle. If you plan on drinking a lot, you can save a few bucks by buying a handle for around $40.
Wild Turkey 101 Value
Is Wild Turkey worth buying? In this section, we compare price and taste to let you know if Wild Turkey is worth the money. The real value of Wild Turkey is in its 101 proof, or 50.5% ABV. Jack Daniels comes in at about the same price as Wild Turkey, so we would typically recommend to just go with that. However, if you’re looking for a stronger option that you can mix, Wild Turkey is a very good option.
Wild Turkey Mixed Drinks
While you can certainly sip Wild Turkey 101, it is more of a mixing whiskey. So, that bears the question, what do I mix with it? Below we’ll list the 3 best drinks you can make with Wild Turkey 101.
1. Wild Turkey and Coke
Like most mixing whiskeys, Wild Turkey and Coke is one of the best options out there, and it’s super easy to make. They mix extremely well and it packs more punch than your typically whiskey coke.
2. Whiskey Sour
Wild Turkey 101, lime juice, and ginger beer all mix together to make this whiskey sour. The light mint finish makes this one of the better whiskey sours I’ve had.
3. Brown Derby
Wild Turkey Bourbon, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, and honey. The vanilla and orange flavors of Wild Turkey 101 pair with the lemon juice, or lemon peel, and honey exceptionally well.
Wild Turkey 101 Summary
Wild Turkey 101 is a high proof Kentucky straight bourbon that comes to us at an average but fair price point. At 50.5% ABV, it has more alcohol than your typical 80 proof whiskey. So, for the price and quality of Wild Turkey 101, it is an efficient option. One of the potential downsides of Wild Turkey 101 is that it is fairly basic. It’s not as complex as a so many whiskeys and bourbons are today. However, this is okay since it’s really meant to be mixed. Furthermore, as a mass produced whiskey, its meant to appeal to the masses.
Wild Turkey also has Matthew McConaughey working as a creative director for them which is fairly cool, at least for those of us that are fans of him. You can read about his involvement with the whiskey over at The Drum.
At the end of the day, whether or not Wild Turkey is good or ‘worth it’ comes down to personal preference. I like Wild Turkey for parties and other similar occasions for it’s cheap, inoffensive, and high proof qualities. Ultimately, the only way for you to know if you like Wild Turkey is to go out and try it.
If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out our thoughts on Knob Creek 12 Year Cask Strength!
Wild Turkey 101 FAQ
Below are frequently asked questions regarding Wild Turkey. Many of these are covered in the article above.
Is Wild Turkey a Good Bourbon?
This really comes down to personal preference. However, Wild Turkey 101 is considered to be a good bourbon, especially when it comes to mixed drinks. It is among the top 10 for best selling American whiskeys in the world, so there are plenty of Wild Turkey fans out there.
How Much Does Wild Turkey 101 Cost?
A standard bottle of Wild Turkey 101 is usually around $20 with a full handle running about $40. It is cheaper than most sipping whiskeys but more expensive than your bottom shelf options.
What is Wild Turkey 81? Wild Turkey 101 vs 81
Wild Turkey 81 is the 81 proof version of Wild Turkey 101. It is simply a more mild option of their standard 101 bottle.