Let’s get one thing straight—all bourbon is whiskey, but all whiskey isn’t bourbon. Bourbon tastes stronger and sweeter than other whiskeys. That’s because it’s distilled from a key ingredient: corn. And bourbon is held to much higher quality standards than other whiskeys, from what goes in to how long it’s aged. Bourbon is America’s only native spirit, and 95% of it comes from Kentucky. So yeah, it’s a whiskey—the best kind.
To be bourbon by federal rules, the following must apply:
- It has to be distilled from at least 51% corn.
- It has to be aged at least two years in new, charred oak barrels.
- It can’t have anything added besides distilled water (no flavorings or colorings can enter any bottles).
Four years may be the standard, but we age all of our bourbon much longer...
Wild Turkey 81 and Wild Turkey 101 are a marriage of primarily 6, 7, and 8 year old bourbons. Rare Breed is made from a blend of 6, 8, and 12 year old stocks, and Russell’s Reserve is aged 10 years.
You can judge a bourbon on four qualities:
How it looks. A bourbon’s color tells you a lot about its age. Age it longer, and you get more color from the barrel.
How it smells. Take a whiff. (You can smell more flavor than you’ll ever taste.)
How it tastes. People tend to describe bourbon as being woody, grainy, sweet, fruity, or spicy. Flavors like vanilla, caramel, leather, orange, tobacco, or honey are common.
How it finishes. Is it smooth? Harsh? Spicy? Bourbon is complex. Every part matters.
Wild Turkey 101 has dominant flavors of vanilla and caramel. Rare Breed is a more assertive bourbon, with notes of orange, mint, and tobacco. Russell’s Reserve is a 10-year-old bourbon that runs spicier.
Try any of these:
Neat. Just bourbon. That’s it.
Rocks. Bourbon with ice.
Straight up. Shaken or stirred with ice and strained into a glass. For some, this can also mean neat.
In a cocktail. Drinker’s choice.
I take my bourbon neat, but that’s just me. You drink it however you want.
Nothing wrong with a good mixed drink. Eddie Russell created Wild Turkey 81 for just this purpose. The classic bourbon cocktails are a Manhattan, Mint Julep, Old Fashioned, and Bourbon and Cola. Take a look at the drinks on our site for more ideas.
For cocktails, I use Wild Turkey 81 for its mixability and versatility. When I want my bourbon to stand up more to mixers, I use the 101.
Proof tells you how much alcohol is in your drink. Each point of proof equals 0.5% alcohol content. So 81 proof is 40.5% alcohol, and 101 proof is 50.5% alcohol. Thanks to its lower proof,
Wild Turkey 81 has a smooth profile.
Wild Turkey 101 brings a stronger kick, making it perfect for bourbon drinkers looking for extra flavor.
Find out what makes Wild Turkey bourbon different here.
81 has a mellower taste and is great for mixing. 101’s complex taste and bite come from its higher proof, making it enjoyable neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail.
You can store bourbon at room temperature. Add ice if you want to cool it down. Make sure to store Wild Turkey standing straight up, not on its side. (You can buy more than one bottle at a time—unopened bourbon lasts forever.)
I keep my Rare Breed in the freezer so I don’t have to dilute it with ice.
Drink it neat or with ice. Add a splash of water to bring out the taste. Some people smoke a cigar to add complex flavors. Make a simple mixed drink. Try on one of our drinks for size.
Remember—don’t let anyone tell you how to drink your bourbon.