Taste Review #85 – Wild Turkey Longbranch
By my calculations, by time I publish this review we will be into January 2021. The thoughts of turkey will be far from our minds having endured the onslaught of another festive season. But it’s never far away from Turkey Time. Despite writing this in October, I think that by time you are reading this, Easter Eggs will already have made an appearance in some stores, Thanksgiving is around 10 months away and from there it is only 11 months before Christmas hits again. Without a doubt the Christmas tat will be in the stores sometime around September.
I have to admit, even I am getting a bit flummoxed about Christmas. It was before I went on away in early October that I was walking around my local Home Bargains store in Aviemore that I was being confused by the aisles of Christmas goodies as well as Halloween accessories. We haven’t even countered with Guy Fawkes, which doesn’t have much tat associated with it bar a few fireworks to scare the living daylights out of our pets for the couple of weeks leading up to 5th of November. Thankfully I’ve been away for Halloween and Guy Fawkes, so will miss a lot of the retail frenzy for these festivals as well as the majority of the commercial bombardment leading up to Christmas.
Halloween, it’s not the same as it used to be. It has become more and more Americanised, with trick or treating being a way of knocking on the doors for sweeties. When I was a young kid it was also a way of raising money to make an effigy of Guy Fawkes to put on your bonfire. Trick or treat was never really a big thing in Aberdeen – you were a Guizer. And none of this soft, hollowed out Pumpkins. We were hard as nails and used to hollow out neeps (Turnips or swedes, whatever your local identification of these things are). Took hours, and I am sure a good few spoons were bent in the process, but was much more satisfying, and of course the debris could be used in a variety of hearty Scottish dishes.
This Americanisation I’ll be looking at for this review is Wild Turkey. And that’s a bourbon. Perhaps you may have noticed that I haven’t done any foreign whisky. There’s been blends and a liqueur, but nothing from over any borders. This is a first for me. However I would like to point out that I have been very familiar with Wild Turkey in the past, with the Wild Turkey 101 proof being my regular drink back in the early 1990’s all the way up until the middle of the first decade of the 21st century. There is also the 80 proof version, which tasted pretty much the same but resulted in a lesser hangover. This one however is a totally different version, and is known as Longbranch.
I came across it while surfing the whiskyweb social media circles I now hover around the outside of. It’s an 8 year old Bourbon which has been refined with Texas Mesquite and American Oak charcoals. I’ll go into the differences between Bourbon and Single Malt at some point in the future, but suffice to say the quick differences are Bourbon has to use a virgin cask and only has to be matured for 2 years to be called a straight bourbon. It’s a mixed grain whisky which can use wheat, rye or corn, though must contain a minimum 51% corn. If your bourbon is between 2 and 4 years old, it must carry an age statement, above this age it isn’t required. Anyway, I digress.
The Wild Turkey distillery is based in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Its foundation predates many Scottish distilleries, with the origin of the distillery beginning in 1869 by the Riply Brothers on Wild Turkey Hill in Lawrenceburg. However, the whisky wasn’t known as Wild Turkey until 1940. By 1954, Master Distiller Jimmy Russell starts work at Wild Turkey. In 1981, his son Eddie joins the company and works his way up the ladder, becoming joint Master Distiller in 2015, making Jimmy and Eddie the only joint father and son Master Bourbon Distiller team in the world. In any case, I think Jimmy Russell would be the longest serving Master Distiller in the world, in 2019 reaching his 65th year at Wild Turkey.
The Longbranch edition of Wild Turkey was a collaboration between the actor and Wild Turkey Creative Director Michael McConaughey and Eddie Russell, which Wild Turkey say is a celebration of their Kentucky and Texan roots. The whisky has been refined by Mesquite and American Oak charcoals, and is the first time a signature has been placed on the bottle that has not been one of the Russell family.
McConaughey said in the company’s press release, “Longbranch, in its simplest form, is an extended hand, inviting a friend into your family. So the branch that was extended to me from the Russells was a long one, one that reached from Kentucky to Texas and back again. I offered the Mesquite from my great state to add to their legendary Kentucky whiskey and together we made Longbranch.
Anyway, lets stop talking about the whisky and lets get into tasting it.
Wild Turkey Longbranch
Region – Kentucky Bourbon / USA. Age – NAS, but is reportedly 8 years old. Strength – 43% Colour – Burnished (1.1) Cask Type -Virgin American Oak Colouring – Not Stated. Chill Filtered – Yes Nose -Caramel, nuts, vanilla, cherries, slight sour note that reminds of Jack Daniels. Palate -Honey roasted peanuts, rye bread, slight wood spice that moves into cherries again, charred wood. Finish – charred wood, slight spicy wood notes, caramel.
This isn’t the Wild Turkey I remember. It has been about 15 years since I regularly drank Wild Turkey and I still remember the harsh taste it used to have. However in the past 15 years I have also grown to have an appreciation of whisky, in how to taste it and how to find all the flavours.
I didn’t find this harsh at all. It was I have to say a very pleasant drink. I liked how I kept picking up on the cherry note, which for me made the nip all the more desirable. It is a shame that I only bought a sample, as I would happily have this as a daily sipper if I was able to do such a thing. However, I have a lot of Wild Turkey sitting in the cupboard waiting ahead, so another bottle may not be the best idea. However, how often have I listened to my own advice on buying bottles? As I write this and since leaving home a fortnight ago, I’ve certainly been ignoring that guidance. At least I have a store..
Wild Turkey Longbranch can be bought on the Master Of Malt website for just under £37, and at this price I can tell you it is good value. I bought my sample of this whisky from Drinks by the dram and I believe it cost well under £5, but it is no longer available in the 3cl format. Trust me though, if you like your bourbons, in particular the sweeter ones, then this one is a winner
Yours In Spirits
Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.
Wild Turkey Bottle – Master Of Malt
All Other Photos – Authors Own