January 9, 2012 — Wild Turkey 81

I had a pretty interesting conversation with some friends a while back about how some liquors (and brewers) seem to be trying to reach too far outside their own particular areas. By doing so, more often than not my friends argued, companies begin to muddy the brand. That’s why it’s refreshing to see an American classic like Wild Turkey stick to what they know — good quality whiskies at a good price.

Most of their iterations are simply different proofs of their same base spirit — bourbon.

Their most recent incarnation is the Wild Turkey 81, which was released in the fall of 2011. We got our hands on a gift set around the Christmas season, so we also got some spiffy rocks glasses, too.

The average price point on the Wild Turkey 81 is $18, keeping it well within the realm of our Best Buy Boozes.

From the press release from last year:

Wild Turkey 81 was born through extensive research – that is if you consider sitting in bars across America talking to bartenders and whiskey fans research.  Having already collaborated with his father, famed Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, on Russell’s Reserve® Bourbon and Rye, Eddie wanted to create a spirit all his own that met the needs of today’s whiskey drinker, who is looking to experience bourbon with mixers and in classic, good-time cocktails more and more.

I discovered those folks who didn’t want the punch of Wild Turkey 101 were sorely disappointed by other whiskies that disappeared like a fox down a hole when mixed with things like cola,” said Eddie Russell.  “So with Jimmy’s blessing, I developed Wild Turkey 81 – an everyday whiskey that can stand up to any mixer or in any cocktail with the bold, in-your-face taste that is distinctively Wild Turkey.”

Wild Turkey 81 uses Wild Turkey’s famous high-rye mash for a spicy kick that lasts and lasts.  Hand-selected American oak barrels from the Ozark Mountains receive an “alligator char” before being filled at the distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.  Wild Turkey 81 is the only bourbon in the category to use this expensive, deep char (also called a “#4 char”), resulting in extreme vanilla and caramel flavors that are hallmarks of a Wild Turkey Bourbon.

So, how does it stand up?


There’s a very pleasant, oaky sweetness, with just a hint of burn on the back.


Similar to the nose — the higher proof is clear up front with a pleasant warming across the tongue, with  fading sweetness bringing up the rear.

On the Rocks:

Some of the bite has gone, but you still have a pleasant “oomph!”


A pleasant, well-balanced bourbon which we expect will hold up well against other mixers.


— Mark


  1. […] Week 42: Wild Turkey 81 […]

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