So last week I started my first leg on my Great Whiskey Showdown. And the winner of the bourbon section was this: Wild Turkey Rare Breed.
Now before you start squawking about Wild Turkey being a lower class whiskey, just you wait.
Wild Turkey is actually a fine distillery. I went there myself a few weeks ago. I checked out all the nuts and bolts and I can personally attest to the fact that they are running a quality operation. Also, Wild Turkey 101 is a fine bottom shelf whiskey. You are probably liking it to your college days when you shot it. Guess what? You drank it wrong!! You are supposed to sip it and enjoy their quality mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley (pretty high for the rye, guy :)).
Anyway, Wild Turkey Rare Breed is not 101. It is a high proof (58.5%….wow!) and it is a blend of 6, 8, and 12 year bourbons that master distiller Jim Russell selects himself (at least that is what they advertise, but I bet his son does it). In other words, this is a carefully crafted elixir.
Enough with the background, let’s taste it:
Nose: Caramel, vanilla, and tobacco. Very strong caramel. The nose is strong and large, of Jamie Farr proportions. Just sniffing this thing may give you a contact buzz.
Taste: A taste explosion! So many flavours densely wrapped into a single sip. So much in fact that it is sensory overload. The 58.5% abv means this thing packs a punch, both in alcohol and in its flavour spiral. Caramel, vanilla, fruitcake, tobacco, leather, and chocolate come at you in full force. And yes, this does burn your mouth. Adding a few drops may help bring out the secondary flavours and does not kill the strength of the dram much at all.
Finish: Strong. I think I can still taste this thing 2 days later. The caramel and vanilla strands fade a bit while a rye spice note enters in to remind you that you just drank something big.
Overall, I absolutely love Rare Breed. Yes, I am a fan of 101 (my go to at a bar, mainly for the price), but this is a far superior dram. It is more complex, has more bite, and you do not forget the fact you drank some. Smooth it is not. But if you want smooth, just drink some milk.
I found this for $35 at Total Wine. I know it is around $40+ in other parts of the world. But even at $50, it is well worth your coin. However it is not nearly as ubiquitous as 101, so as a rara avis, grab one when you see it!