Wild Turkey Rare Breed (Batch WT-03RB)
I was 17 years old. Underage in my favorite bar in BC (ahem…yes, mum…sorry). The end of the night, when already shitsplat drunk, was always the time a few mates and I would sidle up to the wood and toss back shots of Wild Turkey. Never a good idea to end the party by slamming shots, but in hindsight…that would likely be the explanation for many a crippling hangover.
Anyway…the mind does funny things. To this day, just the name ‘Wild Turkey’ sends a shiver down my spine. Well, that’s not entirely true. This was the case up until about three weeks back when I, and a few of The Collective, snugged up with a bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed. Any personal apprehension was smashed to bits upon first nosing. Bloody hell. A roomful of people sat back in stunned not-so-silence. What the hell was this?! The near unanimity in favorable reception was marred only by one lone dissenter who simply can’t wrap his senses around the sweetness of bourbon.
Apparently the Rare Breed is built from 6-, 8- and 12 year old bourbons. With Kentucky’s clime contributing to a very fast maturation, this rather aged juice is old beyond its years. As you’d expect at this stage, the flavour integration is incredible and tighter than the Southern Belles in the first few rows of a Georgia Baptist Revival church. Possibly almost as sweet too.
As mentioned before, Bourbon is not my drink. Every now and again a craving, but otherwise I usually go for something created far from the Americas. In this case though, after tasting, I had to go out and buy a bottle. This is a helluva whiskey. Can’t stress this enough…this is beyond most bourbons you’re likely to try. And at a local sticker of a mere ~$45? How can you go wrong?
Nose: Vanilla and wax. Dill pickle. Very strong and bold spice profile. Sandalwood (cinnamon, in particular) and Lush soaps. Both dusty sweet corn and dry popcorn. Creamy cocoa. Huge mint and eucalyptus notes from the virgin oak influence. Some almost sherry notes. Fiery pepper and chilis. This is actually a one-in-a-million nose, and definitely one of the best bourbons I’ve sniffed at.
Palate: Pepper and chilis again. Dill and enormous spices. Boiled greens. Again…dusty corn notes. Kinda like corn meets dunnage. Crisp and tight. Mint notes carry to palate as well. The nose and the palate are nicely connected here. These tastebuds are well pleased.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
I’ve been a Wild Turkey 101 fan for many years. It’s the bourbon chosen to be on all SW Airline flights by the man who ran the company for decades, and for a good reason. It’s so damn good! WT 101 and Evan Williams SB are my favorite $20 bottles, but now Rare Breed has me looking at spending an extra $15 per. Man, this is really good stuff! The nose is truly stunning for a bourbon, but water will lessen it, so nose at full strength. I can’t add anything to your descriptions of nose or palate except to confirm this is equal in quality to a very good single malt in all respects. A HTH with WT101 shows how smooth, complex and mature it is, seeming like the equivalent of a 15-18 YO Scotch. Great stuff!
I’m not much on bourbon, and no real fan of the Wild Turkey base model compared to Maker’s Mark, but I would be interested in trying the 101 and other higher-ABV WT versions, as I understand them to be a major step up. Cheers!
101 is definitely better than the 81, which I won’t touch. The Rare Breed compared to 101 is like comparing HP 18 to the 12, smoother with a definite “aged” taste and great nose. Still bourbon though, but I’m very picky with bourbon as I’m also a scotch guy. Looking forward to sipping this by the pool when it finally warms up.
PS. The nose neat is very nice, almost like a sherried bourbon
@robert i like your analogy! a huge fan of islay scotch expressions, but i’ve enjoyed both HP 12–with its magic trick of turning heather to (a wisp of) smoke over the course of a dram–and HP 18, with its decadent, plummy (?) nose… and it seems like you’ve nailed the difference rather well. as a fellow scotch-loving-but-not-as-keen-on-bourbon (too sweet, generally) type, i look forward to picking up a bottle of rare breed sometime soon. i first encountered WT 101 courtesy of an aunt and uncle (well into their 80’s) who observe 5 p.m. “happy hour” religiously wherever they are–with 101!
I’ve shifted to mainly bourbon since the temperature is over 90. Bought a few bottles of WT-RB, both the one you reviewed and the new higher proof one. Also got a liter of 101. Love this stuff! I’m currently enjoying three fingers of 101 with a bit of ice, which I let melt to cool it down and cut it a bit. Carmel, brown sugar, some fruitiness (which increases the longer it sits, along with becoming creamier) and a bit of spiciness. Reminds me a bit of Craggamore 12. I need to open a bottle of that I have and do a HTH.
Also picked up four bottles of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, three of batch 4 and one of batch 5. Batch 4 has a fantastic nose and is even better than RB. Batch 5 is about equal to RB. All are great whiskies for the summer heat. Especially at the price ($30-$35). Liter of 101 was only $23. Can’t find that kind of buy in scotches!
amazing. you’ve hit on the other barrel proof bourbon i’ve been “researching” online and finding attractive by all accounts. for what it’s worth, i’m in the middle of a bottle of ardbeg uigeadail, and have a bottle of kilchoman machir bay on tap–AFTER i crack open my first bottle (and first taste period) of booker’s! any thoughts on that particular expression?
Booker’s? Any thoughts?
Only the best bourbon I own! Granted I’ve tried only 5 outside of a whisky festival. The george T Stagg was a phenomenal experience at spirit of Toronto.
It’s true that all the ones I own are Beam products:
Knob creek single cask
I’ve also sampled in more controlled settings Basil Hayden and Kirkland (Costco Brand), both also by Beam.
The Booker’s has one of the most awesome mouth feels of any whisky I have ever enjoyed.mit is rich and deep in Flavour.
I envy your first taste….that explosion of Flavour, it happens each time but it’s only the first time once.
I’m the wrong person to ask about Beam products, which I am not personally interested in drinking. I like all WT (save 81, which I find as mediocre as Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve). I also like the Heaven Hill brand, especially EWSB and ECBP which are miles better than their cheaper siblings. A wheater I really like is Weller 12, but it is hard to find. It has a bit of spiciness, which is weird for a wheater. As to ryes, I found I enjoy High West Rendevouz(sp?), which is a blend from two distillers. I have also had Bowman, Four Roses (even the Small Batch 2012, which many rated excellent), among many others, which though good, don’t quite do it for me. Over $40 I’d rather buy scotch, which I prefer overall to bourbon.
These are the ones I am currently sticking with as they fit my palate. I have an unopened bottle of Booker’s 25th Anniversery, which many say is the best Beam, so I’ll try it soon. Otherwise, I defer to David as his palate seems to favor Beam products. My advice is to try a well-rated bottle from each distiller and decide for yourself, as I find bourbon more polarizing than scotch.
Don ‘t defer to me. My appreciation for Beam products is a function of my relative ignorance on bourbon. I happen to have come across these and I like some of them (the Booker’s especially). I found the Basil Hayden’s OK but thin (it’s 40%) and it reminded me of a Canadian whisky but I have fond memories of the setting in which I had it, just the one time. And I was not a fan of the Costco version.
This does not mean I like Beam more than other bourbons, just that I have not had much experience with other bourbons…
I really like Rare Breed , my sister (now favorite) returned from Vegas with a bottle for me.(Same batch as tasted here)
She paid $38 for it.
That’s a steal. I’m not generally a bourbon guy, but this is a stellar drink. Good score, Peter.
I recently bought a bottle of Booker’s (2106-3) and I have to say I now have a Beam product I will keep around. Wow! This is great bourbon! Definitely different from WT and HH products, but amazing stuff. You guys need to do a tasting of this, WTRB, RRSB, and ECBP. These are now my four bourbons I will keep around, along with a jug of WT101 (for poolside drinks and guests). I hate to say it, but RB is the weakest in this group, but is still great whiskey.
Went out and picked up another bottle of the Bookers 2016-3 and one of Laphroaig 10 CS #007. I had finished off my last #4 a few months back, which was good, but not like #2, which was great. I plan on a HTH with the Cairdeas 2015 after the CS gets some air time.
Local store is now carrying Douglas-Laing batted malts (Big Peat, Timorous Beastie, Rock Oyster, and Scallawag). Anyone try any of these? I really like pretty much anything out of Compass Box, so looking seriously at these, especially as Serge gave them decent reviews. $52-57 here per bottle.
I don’t buy it anymore, but Big Peat is a very good vat, and I kicked myself later when I once saw the Christmas edition and didn’t pick it up. I thought it was just seasonal labeling, but it was actually the cask-strength version, which would have been a no-brainer buy at the time.
I believe on this site the Big Peat 46% was given a higher score than the X-mas edition, but this could be batch-dependent.
I liked big peat but I prefer Peat Monster.
I’ve heard a lot about Big Peat, but not the others. Those are the ones (Island, Speyside and Highland) I’m more interested in, but thanks for the BP comments.