All over the U.S. at this time of year, outdoorsmen all across the country are busy preparing for an upcoming outdoor pursuit. Broadheads are being sharpened, as are gunsights. Men are out testing their arms to the limits of their capabilities for the moment of opportunity to arise. Shops like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop are putting up sale signs in their stores and online, and boxes of munitions and equipment are flying off the shelves. Decoys, blinds and calls are being dragged out of old cobwebbed cupboards for their annual trip into the light of day. The quarry’s places of habit are observed, manipulated and planned on tactically with trail cameras after weeks of surveillance prior. Hunting licenses and tags are being bought. Mossy Oak and Realtree pickup trucks, S.U.V.s and quad bikes are being loaded up with equipment ready for an excitement-fueled journey up the highway away from town until they turn off the paved road where the exposure of civilization grows thinner and thinner until the only roads left are those whose direction is dictated by the baldness of the soil. The mad dash of organization, purchases and traveling at an end, the sportsmen sit relaxing in their blinds in the embrace of nature, disconnected from the oppression of society, waiting for their quarry to arrive. And the climax peaks with the pulling of a trigger. It’s turkey season. It’s time again to hunt what is probably America’s favourite gamebird. Tom Turkey, Thunder Chickens. And since this time last year I’ve decided to capitalize on this time of opportunity, as the American hunter does likewise. As pictures of happy hunters with their bows and shotguns gleefully present their trophies flood social media…I am left with little more outlet for my envy than my fortnightly trip to my local archery club and my Subway footlong carved turkey. Well, that and this blog.
G’day guys. Mitch is back with another great American Kentucky Straight Bourbon. And if it wasn’t already abundantly clear by this point, this week I’m drinking Wild Turkey. The official whiskey of turkey season…probably. Unofficially it would have to be. Sure, any label can profit off it, sneak advertisement into it’s medium, appear to be supportive of it. Anyone can adopt it, but how many were born into it? Just before the turn of the Twentieth Century, the Old Hickory Distillery was founded in the original town of Tyrone in the Kentucky region of Lawrenceburg by a Thomas Ripy. After Ripy passed on in nineteen-oh-two, after the Prohibition their family sold the distillery to the Austin Nichols. The real moment of attained identity came in nineteen-forty. While brews were being experimented with to develop a distinct whiskey, an executive of the label, Thomas McCarthy took a sample of a batch from their warehouse – On a turkey hunt. The whiskey proved it’s worth, and his friends continued to ask him for his “wild turkey bourbon”. And so, in nineteen-forty-two, the name became official. The Wild Turkey label progressed forward and became the internationally successful award-winning label we know it by today. Available in a fleet of bottles; From their standard eighty-one proof bottle, there’s a 101 Proof, a Rye whiskey, a 101 Proof Rye (no, seriously), their American Honey Sting that is so dangerously smooth when I bought a bottle I go through it like milk. Their premium bottles; Their Rare Breed, the Kentucky Spirit, and their flagship Master’s Keep range. And also sells their sister label’s bourbon, the Russell’s Reserve. And this post’s bottle, that fits neatly in between their standard bottles and their top-shelf bottles – the Longbranch. A small batch adaptation of their Kentucky straight bourbon. But there’s a lot of small batch whiskies out there, and a few small batch bourbons. Where this whiskey stands out as unique, is it is filtering through Texas Mesquite charcoal. Similar to Jack Daniel’s Lincoln County Process of filtering their whiskey through sugar maple charcoal. I’ve only ever seen one other bottle of whiskey in my life use mesquite in their liquor, and I think I’m right in saying that this is the only liquor I’ve seen use it this way. And further adding to the whiskey’s character, it even comes with a teeny tiny pamphlet on some elastic round the neck. Telling of how this bourbon is the joint venture of Wild Turkey master distiller Eddie Russell (guess he isn’t the only one juggling two balls at once) and Matthew McConaughey. Telling us of the “deep limestone shelf” and the “mighty Kentucky River” the distillery is built upon, but most notably, the bourbons true age of maturity. Eight years old.
The bottle is an impressive design, shelved rounded shoulders lead down to an ovular base. The words “Small Batch”, “Aged in American Oak”, and “Expertly Crafted” debossed into the front of the bottle. Upwards you find a large, meaty cork, with their logo of a turkey embossed into the timbered top. The nose is that of a surprising sweetness. A typical bourbon with the inherent rugged sour character and twang, mixed with a raspy, spicy sweetness of cinnamon. On the palette, the taste is distinctively subdued by the filtering process. A sour, mellow entrance, characteristic of mesquite, as subtle in liquor as it is in cooking. Soon intensifying into a cherry sweetness. On the exit, the taste is a typical bourbon of brash and potent character. Very smooth. Very. In fact for a bourbon it’s a bit too tame. But let’s view this from a different angle, if this were an Irish whiskey this would be outstanding albeit somewhat excessive in spice for that class. Think of it as a grey area between the two. So the addition of mesquite, has instilled in this a deeply soothing quality, just quietly I always preferred hickory for my barbecue anyway, glad to see mesquite found a new job. Good bourbon. Dangerously smooth, watch those glasses!