In what’s been a busy year for the whiskey brand, Wild Turkey recently introduced Wild Turkey 81 Rye Whiskey, an 81-proof spirit that joins Wild Turkey’s flagship 101-proof rye. This follows last year’s release of Wild Turkey 81 Proof Bourbon, a product that’s also joined by a 101 proof sibling. Both the whiskey and rye categories formerly included 80 proof offerings, each of which is no longer available.
For anyone who’s concerned, Wild Turkey was quick to point out that the new expression will not replace the 101 proof rye. But due to some industry shortages, the 101 proof version is increasingly difficult to find. So the 81 proof rye whiskey should help to alleviate some production shortages of the 101 proof rye, with bottles of both becoming more available in future years.
If you’re still keeping up, Wild Turkey 81 Rye was crafted by Wild Turkey’s Associate Master Distiller, Eddie Russell. The whiskey’s mash bill is the same as other Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve Rye whiskey products, so the differences lie in the maturation process. Wild Turkey 81 Rye is a blend of four and five year old rye whiskeys that are aged in heavily charred barrels, which imparts more oak and smoke notes into the whiskey.
On the nose, Wild Turkey 81 Rye is pretty mild, with notes of vanilla, rye grains and light smoke. Take a sip to find some spice, including a notable cinnamon kick, plus sweet vanilla and cherry. The charred wood comes through here as well, with some smoked wood notes tying the room together. It finishes with hints of chocolate, more vanilla, oak and some mild spice.
Overall, this is a nice offering from the folks at Wild Turkey. It’s not quite as bold as the marketers proclaim, especially when put side-by-side with the 101 proof rye. In fact, it seems to be a lesson in restraint, with a smooth, easy-drinking quality from start to finish. But that said, it has enough bite and flavor to stand up in cocktails like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.
– 40.5% Alcohol by Volume