See below for recent news on Wild Turkey. We’ll get back to our bourbon while you read.
March 10, 2014PDF
2014: THE YEAR OF JIMMY RUSSELL Bourbon Hall of Famer™ Jimmy Russell Celebrates Unprecedented 60 Years with Wild Turkey®; Longest Tenured, Active Master Distiller in North America Sets New Bourbon Industry Benchmark LAWRENCEBURG, KY (MARCH 10, 2014) – Bourbon Hall of Famer™ Jimmy Russell, Wild Turkey’s® illustrious Master Distiller and the longest tenured, active Master Distiller …Read More
2014: THE YEAR OF JIMMY RUSSELL
Bourbon Hall of Famer™ Jimmy Russell Celebrates Unprecedented 60 Years with Wild Turkey®; Longest Tenured, Active Master Distiller in North America Sets New Bourbon Industry Benchmark
LAWRENCEBURG, KY (MARCH 10, 2014) – Bourbon Hall of Famer™ Jimmy Russell, Wild Turkey’s® illustrious Master Distiller and the longest tenured, active Master Distiller of any whiskey brand in North America, celebrates 60 years of service with the distillery this year. Known among industry peers as the “Buddha of Bourbon” and the “Master Distiller’s Master Distiller,” Jimmy is a well-respected and highly-regarded titan of the Bourbon world, and a dedicated craftsman with an uncompromised approach to whiskey-making. To celebrate his achievements, a number of special events will take place throughout 2014, making this “The Year of Jimmy Russell.”
Jimmy grew up less than five miles from the Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, which employed both his father and wife Joretta. While keeping it all in the family, he eagerly learned the traditions and techniques of Bourbon craftsmanship and began working at Wild Turkey on September 10, 1954. That year, while future Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays was burning up the outfield, actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe was burning up the silver screen in movies like “The River of No Return.” The top television show in 1954 was “I Love Lucy,” the average US income was $3,900 and a gallon of gas cost just 21 cents.
Jimmy’s passion for Bourbon led him to study under whiskey luminaries, including Bill Hughes, Wild Turkey’s second Master Distiller; and Ernest W. Ripy, Jr., great-nephew of distillery founder James Ripy and Wild Turkey’s third Master Distiller. Jimmy recalls being taken under Bill’s wing and learning everything about the business from the ground up. Under their collective tutelage, he learned how to make Bourbon the Wild Turkey way – using the deepest char, a high rye mash bill, GMO-free grains and aging the whiskey longer.
The Bourbon industry has evolved significantly over the past 60 years and Jimmy has witnessed it all. “I started working here in 1954 and things sure have changed! Back in my younger days, Bourbon was a southern gentleman’s drink. It was seen as a prestige drink. Now, the whole world has discovered it. It has really grown into this huge market. People enjoy the flavor, the taste, all of it. It’s funny how things happen,” proclaimed Jimmy. Turning 80 in November, Jimmy has dedicated his life to making America’s native spirit. When asked about his numerous accomplishments, he humbly responds, “I’m still trying to get better. All the time.”
Among the many planned activities to celebrate Jimmy’s legacy, Wild Turkey will open a new, state-of-the-art Visitor Center on April 15, which will also serve as a platform to kick off “The Year of Jimmy Russell” among his fellow Kentuckians. Both the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Lawrenceburg’s Mayor Edwina Baker will honor Jimmy and his contributions as a major force in propelling Bourbon culture around the world. The Visitor Center includes photos and memorabilia that serve as a time capsule of Jimmy’s colorful life.
Additionally, Wild Turkey will release a commemorative Diamond Anniversary limited-edition Bourbon created by Jimmy’s son, distilling partner and Bourbon Hall of Famer Eddie Russell. Diamond Anniversary will be available first at the Visitor Center starting in April, but will expand to key markets around the country this fall. Another tribute to Jimmy will come in the form of a documentary allowing fans both old and new to get a glimpse into the life of this legendary whiskey maker. Featuring family, friends and a flock of fellow Bourbon legends, the film will follow this iconic man as he goes about his business, making the best Bourbon in the world.
“Making Bourbon isn’t easy. There is a lot to master. As soon as I learned one job, they put me on another.” says Jimmy. From positions as Plant Manager and Bottling House Manager to Quality Control and finally the apex of his career as Master Distiller, Jimmy learned how to make Bourbon the right way – from the inside out and everything in between. No job was too small, no task too tedious. The Russell legacy at Wild Turkey continues with Jimmy’s son Eddie, who joined Wild Turkey in 1981 and today serves as Distiller with his father. “The Bourbon business is a family affair,” he continued.
Over the past 60 years, Jimmy has been responsible for the launches of a number of new Wild Turkey brands and expressions, such as Tradition, Tribute, 17-year-old Wild Turkey for Japan, Rare Breed, American Spirit, Kentucky Spirit and Russell’s Reserve, which he co-created with Eddie. Jimmy broke new ground in 1976 with the first honeyed Bourbon, at the time called Wild Turkey Liqueur. Today, fans know that product better as American Honey. Jimmy is also responsible for making sure the legacy of Wild Turkey stays intact; overseeing the production of Wild Turkey 101, Wild Turkey’s flagship brand. While waxing poetic about “aging techniques” and “grain selection,” you can often find Jimmy enjoying his beloved Bourbon neat or with a touch of branch water.
Jimmy married his high school sweetheart Joretta the year before he started at the distillery. They have three children – Eddie, Mike and Kathy; six grandchildren; and one great grandchild. A true Kentuckian and avid sports fan, Jimmy is a lifelong supporter of local Anderson County High School athletic programs for girls and boys.
At A Glance: Jimmy Russell
- Wild Turkey Master Distiller
- 60 Year Whiskey Veteran, longest tenured Master Distiller in the industry
- At 80 years old, the oldest active Master Distiller
- Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame™ member; inducted in 2000 (Jimmy and Eddie are the only active Father/Son members of the Hall of Fame)
- Creator of Rare Breed, Kentucky Spirit, American Spirit, American Honey, Tradition, Tribute, Wild Turkey 17-year-old for Japan and Co-Creator of Russell’s Reserve
- Whiskey judge for the International Wine and Spirits Competition
- Anointed a Kentucky Colonel by three standing Commonwealth of Kentucky Governors, including former Governors Paul E. Patton and Ernie Fletcher, and current Governor Steve Beshear.
November 11, 2013PDF
ACTOR SCOTT EASTWOOD HELPS CROWN WINNING TEAM AT FIRST-EVER AMERICAN HONEY® BAR-SITY ATHLETICS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Team Chicago Takes Home the Trophy, $10,000 Grand Prize and Year-Long Bragging Rights, While Scott Eastwood Lends His Bartending and Refereeing Talents LAS VEGAS (NOVEMBER 11, 2013) – This past weekend, Sin City became the center of the social sports …Read More
ACTOR SCOTT EASTWOOD HELPS CROWN WINNING TEAM AT FIRST-EVER AMERICAN HONEY® BAR-SITY ATHLETICS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Team Chicago Takes Home the Trophy, $10,000 Grand Prize and Year-Long Bragging Rights, While Scott Eastwood Lends His Bartending and Refereeing Talents
LAS VEGAS (NOVEMBER 11, 2013) – This past weekend, Sin City became the center of the social sports universe, as American Honey®, the original honey bourbon liqueur, held the first-ever American Honey Bar-sity Athletics World Championship at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. More than 160 of the most courageous and awe-inspiring social sports competitors from across the U.S. converged on Las Vegas to compete in a two-day social sports extravaganza for the title of American Honey Bar-sity Athletics World Champion and a $10,000 grand prize. Striking fear in the hearts of the competition, Team Chicago was crowned the winning team on Saturday evening after a ferocious kickball tournament that brought the crowd to its feet.
The weekend was hosted by actor Scott Eastwood, who served as the celebrity referee, truly raising the bar and the fun factor of American Social Sports. Eastwood also demonstrated his mixology chops by creating the event’s signature American Honey Cocktail, The Honey Gobbler.
“As owner of the Saddle Bar in Solano Beach, California, I always appreciate bringing people together for a good time and a great drink. To help the competitors unwind after a long day on the playing field, I created The Honey Gobbler – a twist on the julep and a nod to American Honey’s legendary Kentucky roots,” said Eastwood. “I also got to jump into the action refereeing the first-ever bubble soccer exhibition match – think sumo wrestling mixed with World Cup soccer. But at the end of the day, this was all about the players. Congrats to Team Chicago on a most deserving win.”
American Honey transformed Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas into a social sports paradise, complete with the construction of its signature “Bar-sity Stadium” venue, which debuted in Times Square earlier this year. The American Honey Bar-sity Athletics World Championship featured the crème de la crème of the most popular social sports, including kickball, darts, pool, cornhole and ping pong. Participants showed their grit, determination and fortitude in the high stakes world of Bar-sity sports through a truly immersive two-day experience that highlighted the best parts of Social Sports both on and off the field.
“Throughout the year, American Honey went from bar to bar and playing field to playing field helping bring the dreams of social sports competitors to life by sponsoring clubs and providing a shot or two of the original honey bourbon liqueur,” said Andrew Floor, Senior Marketing Director, American Honey. “This weekend, 160 athletes realized those dreams at the first American Honey Bar-sity World Championship in Vegas. All the competitors are winners, but only one team – Team Chicago – walked away with $10,000 and the title World Champions. We look forward to another exciting season of Bar-sity sports and will be bringing the program to new cities next year.”
The American Honey Bar-sity World Championship are the culmination of the first year of a multi-year commitment designed to enhance the on-field and post-game social sports league experience by sparking social alchemy for millions of young professional participants nationwide. American Honey has partnered with premier social sports leagues and governing bodies, including ZogSports and the Sport and Social Industry Association (SSIA), to provide league equipment, branded uniforms, sponsored post-game happy hours and social sports-themed packaging.
About Scott Eastwood
Actor Scott is currently filming the Sony/QED feature, FURY, opposite Brad Pitt and Shia Labeouf for director David Ayer in the UK. Before that, Scott was seen in theaters in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D for Lionsgate. He recently completed filming the lead role in independent features DAWN PATROL, and WALK TO FAME. He can also be seen in TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, INVICTUS, GRAN TORINO, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, and PRIDE.
About American Honey
A pioneer in the flavored whiskey category, Wild Turkey American Honey® is an exceptionally smooth liqueur blended with pure honey and Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. With delicious notes of sweet honey, caramel and orange highlighted by bourbon tones, American Honey is the sweeter, smoother side of Wild Turkey, with a kick. Uncompromising since 1855, Wild Turkey is the Real Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Using only natural processes, Wild Turkey products are aged in new white oak barrels which give them a deep russet color while carrying full flavors of vanilla and caramel. Complementing the classic Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, several variations of the brand now exist including Wild Turkey Rare Breed™, Kentucky Spirit™, and Russell’s Reserve®. Using the same tried and true methods with a little bit of innovation, Wild Turkey is a true American icon, always bearing the mantle of tradition with grace and a noble heritage. For more information: www.americanhoney.comClose
September 10, 2013PDF
GRUPPO CAMPARI BRINGS PACKAGING CAPABILITIES BACK TO THE WILD TURKEY® DISTILLERY WITH NEW US$43 MILLION FACILITY, SPARKING JOBS AND REVENUE FOR COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY Lawrenceburg, KY (September 10, 2013) — After a seven year hiatus, bottling of one of the most iconic whiskey brands in the world has flown home. Gruppo Campari (Reuters CPRI.MI – …Read More
GRUPPO CAMPARI BRINGS PACKAGING CAPABILITIES BACK TO THE WILD TURKEY® DISTILLERY WITH NEW US$43 MILLION FACILITY, SPARKING JOBS AND REVENUE FOR COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
Lawrenceburg, KY (September 10, 2013) — After a seven year hiatus, bottling of one of the most iconic whiskey brands in the world has flown home. Gruppo Campari (Reuters CPRI.MI – Bloomberg CPR IM) today celebrated the grand opening of its US$43 million Packaging Facility at the famous Wild Turkey® Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Commonwealth of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Gruppo Campari CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz joined Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell to commemorate the opening of the new facility with help from local dignitaries and distillery employees. The Packaging Facility is part of a US$100 million overall investment that the company has made in facility upgrades during a three year time span.
“Kentucky’s Bourbon industry has been growing at a rapid pace, with production of our native spirit up more than 120 percent in the last decade and 5 million barrels currently aging in the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “The significant investment Gruppo Campari has made at the Wild Turkey Distillery, including the $43 million Packaging Facility, will not only help grow that number through worldwide expansion of the Bourbon category, but will also create valuable jobs for the people of our great Commonwealth.”
While creating more than sixty new jobs in the area, the facility provides full bottling and packaging capabilities for all of Gruppo Campari’s U.S.-distilled spirits brands, including the Wild Turkey Bourbon line and the company’s largest U.S.-based brand – SKYY® Vodka. Both immediate and long-term benefits of the new facility include cost efficiencies; improved customer service; more efficient and accelerated innovation opportunities; and added production flexibility through in-sourcing the company’s packaging needs.
With more than 145,000 square-feet of space, the Wild Turkey Packaging Facility will initially handle up to four million nine-liter cases of product annually, but has the design capability and capacity to support Gruppo Campari’s North American packaging platform well into the future. The new Facility immediately addresses the growth of Wild Turkey, Wild Turkey American Honey®, Wild Turkey Spiced®, Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, Russell’s Reserve®, Rare Breed® Bourbon, and SKYY Vodka domestically and around the globe.
“After a seven year absence, we are pleased to bring packaging capabilities back to the Wild Turkey Distillery for two of Gruppo Campari’s biggest and fastest growing brands,” said Bob Kunze-Concewitz, CEO of Gruppo Campari. “By owning the full production process for all of our Wild Turkey brands, we can be more nimble in meeting the growing worldwide demand for not only Wild Turkey, but also SKYY Vodka. We thank the Commonwealth of Kentucky for its cooperation in bringing this facility to life.”
“Gruppo Campari’s investment in the Wild Turkey Bourbon brand not only demonstrates their commitment to helping Wild Turkey produce our fine Bourbon and Rye whiskeys, but also to the people of Kentucky through job creation and tax revenue,” said Jimmy Russell, Wild Turkey Master Distiller. “By having full control of our entire production process from distilling and aging to bottling and packaging, we can focus on what really matters: producing the world’s greatest Bourbon.”
Since purchasing the brand in 2009, Gruppo Campari has made significant financial commitments to the distillery’s operations and its employees that have surpassed more than US$100 million. In 2011, the Company unveiled a US$50 million expansion at the distillery, more than doubling the plant’s production capabilities. This was coupled with the opening of multiple new barrel warehouses over the past several years. In 2014, Wild Turkey will open a new state-of-the-art Visitor Center.
The popularity of Kentucky’s native spirit has exploded worldwide, with demand for Wild Turkey at its highest level in history. The Wild Turkey brand currently sells more than one million nine-liter cases worldwide (IMPACT Databank), with strong growth in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Japan. Wild Turkey is the sixth largest global Bourbon brand (excluding sales of American Honey). Wild Turkey and SKYY Vodka are both distributed and marketed through Campari America in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico.Close
September 4, 2013PDF
WILD TURKEY PROPELS FLAVORED BOURBON CATEGORY FORWARD ONCE AGAIN WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF WILD TURKEY SPICED™ Hailing from the “Island of Kentucky,” New Flavor Designed to Grow Category by Introducing Wild Turkey Bourbon to Spiced Rum Drinkers Looking to “Man Up” LAWRENCEBURG, KY (September 4, 2013) – If variety is the “spice” of life, then …Read More
WILD TURKEY PROPELS FLAVORED BOURBON CATEGORY FORWARD ONCE AGAIN WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF WILD TURKEY SPICED™
Hailing from the “Island of Kentucky,” New Flavor Designed to Grow Category by Introducing Wild Turkey Bourbon to Spiced Rum Drinkers Looking to “Man Up”
LAWRENCEBURG, KY (September 4, 2013) – If variety is the “spice” of life, then Spiced Rum drinkers have reason to rejoice. In a move designed to offer a more masculine choice to Spiced Rum, Wild Turkey® Bourbon has written a new chapter in its impressive history of innovation for drinkers looking to “man up” and make the bold leap into the wild world of whiskey. Forever changing the Bourbon category, the legendary brand introduces Wild Turkey Spiced™, the first-ever spiced Bourbon from the “Island of Kentucky.” Featuring world-famous Kentucky Straight Bourbon with exotic spice, Wild Turkey Spiced is the consummate choice for drinkers curious about Bourbon and looking to trade-up from Spiced Rum.
At 86 proof, Wild Turkey Spiced is a truly unique Bourbon experience that maintains Wild Turkey’s signature bold flavor while highlighting spiced cues previously found only in island spirits. Wild Turkey Associate Master Distiller and Bourbon Hall of Famer Eddie Russell created an eminently mixable, yet sip-able spirit with a sweet and spicy taste profile that can be enjoyed on its own, but really shines when mixed with cola.
“I wanted to develop a liquid that brought to life the best of our robust Bourbon, while borrowing cues that have made island spirits so appealing,” said Eddie Russell. “As the category continues to grow, many people, especially rum drinkers, are becoming curious about Bourbon and its sophisticated, more pronounced taste profile. We believe Wild Turkey Spiced is the perfect drink to bring them into the category.”
With the combination of island spices and Wild Turkey Bourbon heritage, Wild Turkey Spiced mixes the best of Kentucky and the Islands like no one has ever done before. Supported by a unique, tongue-in-cheek digital campaign that conveys what life is like on the “Island of Kentucky,” the marketing will take aim at the notion of graduating from Spiced Rum to the classic, all-American spirit – Bourbon.
Boasting taglines like “Bourbon with a nautical twist – whatever nautical means” and “We considered putting a pirate on the label, until we realized pirates wear tights,” the “Island of Kentucky” embodies a macho mindset that transports nascent Bourbon drinkers to a fictional landscape where they can turn in their boring Spiced Rum credentials for something that invokes chest thumping, fist bumping and tremendous feats of strength – Wild Turkey Spiced. The campaign was developed by Wild Turkey creative agency of record VITRO of San Diego.
“One of the pillars for the Wild Turkey Bourbon brand has always been innovation and experimentation, while maintaining our commitment to quality and heritage,” said Andrew Floor, Group Brand Director, Wild Turkey. “In our Associate Master Distiller Eddie Russell, we have one of the most inventive Bourbon minds in the industry; someone who can bring innovation and tradition together to create signature products that drive the Bourbon category to new heights.”
The release of Wild Turkey Spiced continues a nearly 40-year tradition of innovation dating back to 1976 when Wild Turkey took the category in a completely different direction with the original honey flavored Bourbon, better known today as American Honey®.
Like all Wild Turkey Bourbons, Spiced is born from a natural aging process using American oak barrels with the deepest number 4 or “alligator” char that is used to age every Wild Turkey Bourbon variant. Wild Turkey Spiced joins a growing product line-up that features flagship Wild Turkey Bourbon 81 and 101, Wild Turkey Rye, Wild Turkey Forgiven™, Rare Breed®, Kentucky Spirit®, American Honey® and Russell’s Reserve®.
Wild Turkey Spiced will be available nationwide beginning in the fall of 2013 with a suggested retail price of $22.99 per 750 ml bottle. Visit IslandofKentucky.com for additional information.Close
August 19, 2013PDF
THE WILD TALE OF THE WHISKEY THAT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE: INTRODUCING WILD TURKEY® FORGIVEN Limited-Edition Mingling of Bourbon & Rye the Stuff of Legend, as Masterful “Mistake” Creates Bona fide Magic for the Whiskey Connoisseur LAWRENCEBURG, KY (August 19, 2013) – Not all mistakes are created equal – just ask the Wild Turkey® Bourbon …Read More
THE WILD TALE OF THE WHISKEY THAT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE: INTRODUCING WILD TURKEY® FORGIVEN
Limited-Edition Mingling of Bourbon & Rye the Stuff of Legend, as Masterful “Mistake” Creates Bona fide Magic for the Whiskey Connoisseur
LAWRENCEBURG, KY (August 19, 2013) – Not all mistakes are created equal – just ask the Wild Turkey® Bourbon Distillery crew who unwittingly mingled very rare, high-proof Rye with perfectly-aged Bourbon. The result is Wild Turkey Forgiven, the first nationally-available, 91-proof, small-batch Bourbon and Rye whiskey that will mesmerize those lucky enough to snag a bottle before limited quantities run dry. Enjoyed neat or on the rocks, this masterful spirit fortuitously found its way into the whiskey line-up of the famed Kentucky distillery, and the story of Forgiven was born.
Despite its accidental beginnings, Wild Turkey Associate Master Distiller Eddie Russell quickly realized that he had an exceptional whiskey more than worthy of bringing to market, hence the name “Forgiven.” Made from 78 percent 6-year-old Bourbon and 22 percent 4-year-old Rye, the whiskey opens bold and finishes smooth, with tasting notes of creamy vanilla and oak, and a peppery, cinnamon finish.
“Wild Turkey is known for its uncompromised quality and taste in every Bourbon and Rye expression we make,” said Eddie Russell. “Much to the distillery team’s relief, Forgiven highlights the best of both worlds to create a one-of-a-kind taste that will appeal to both Bourbon and Rye aficionados. I was mad when I first discovered our crew’s mistake, but once I tasted it, all was Forgiven.”
Like all Wild Turkey Bourbons, Forgiven is born from a natural aging process using American oak barrels with the deepest number 4 or “alligator” char that is used to age every Wild Turkey Bourbon and Rye. Forgiven joins a growing product line-up that features flagship Wild Turkey Bourbon 81 and 101, Wild Turkey Rye, Rare Breed®, Kentucky Spirit®, American Honey® and Russell’s Reserve®.
“The Rye category is experiencing explosive growth right now, up 44 percent in the most recent Nielsen figures, with bartenders across the country populating their cocktail menus with this spicy spirit,” said Andrew Floor, Group Brand Director, Wild Turkey. “As both the Bourbon and Rye categories continue to witness broad expansion worldwide, Wild Turkey will maintain its commitment to creating high-quality products that have been the brand’s signature for more than 100 years, while exploring new and interesting whiskies that appeal to bartenders and consumers alike.”
Wild Turkey Forgiven will be available in limited quantities nationwide in late summer 2013 with a suggested retail price of $49.99.
Media images are available at: http://www.camparigroup.com/en/press_media/image_gallery/campari_download.jsp