Taste Review #141 – Wild Turkey Rare Breed
I guess there will be a few people that know me will be wondering if I’ve suddenly decided that my lifestyle choices have been re-evaluated. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but even if you think that from time to time I’m more queer than a bottle of crisps; this closet isn’t where I keep my sexuality but rather one where I keep my whisky.
A long time ago, before I became a total whisky nerd, (instead of just a techy nerd), the company I had just started working for sent me on a trip for a month in the USA to learn all about ROV’s. As you might already know, I work offshore as Remotely Operated Vehicle pilot, but back then this was a job you learnt as you went. My then company decided this was a bit backwards and developed quite an intensive course on the equipment they had designed and built. The idea behind it was that you could hook somebody out of a Macdonalds restaurant and change them from flipping burgers to operating ROV’s. In reality, it didn’t always work that way. I only got to do the electrical part of the course, then never saw the equipment for another two years. Some of the geniuses that had graduated from the university where Ronald MacDonald was the chief lecturer weren’t the freshest patties ever on the hot plate either, failing open book exams.
For the record, I got 97% and only used an hour of the allotted three hours. But this isn’t the education I remember the most. For we were sent to Morgan City in Louisiana and I started my bourbon education. At this point I was already a Wild Turkey drinker, but got to try others. However, on the way home I decided to stick to my first love and took home a bottle of Rare Breed. it was something that I never saw in the shops or bars back home. The internet was still in relative infancy back then, so I couldn’t rely on online retailers.
Anyway, the bottle was opened and sampled with friends then got stuck in my drinks cabinet. And there it stayed, as at the time I lived alone and preferred to go out to drink. This bottle survived 3 house moves before I realised I still had it, hidden behind the other Wild Turkey in the cabinet. After nearly 24 years since I bought it, it would be a foregone conclusion that the cork wasn’t good and I wasn’t surprised when the impressive wooden stopper came away in my hands.
After a nifty bit of decanting, we got the cork out and the whiskey back into its original bottle. But was the whisky as bad as the cork? Only one way to find out…
Wild Turkey Rare Breed (1997)
Region – USA (Bourbon) Age – NAS Strength – 54.4% Colour – Mahogany (1.6) Cask Type – American Oak Colouring – No Chill Filtered – Not Stated Nose – Dusty wood, acetone, dark fruits, vanilla, creamy fudge, Macgowans Highland toffee. Palate – Quite sharp on arrival. Caramel, wood, dark fruit (Blackberries, Cherries). Aniseed Peppery heat with some cinnamon in there. Finish – Heat well controlled and doesn’t increase until you swallow. More cherries, dusty wood, bit of cinnamon, vanilla and tannins, drying on the mouth. Dusty vegetal aftertaste.
After drinking some of it and passing on my thoughts to a fellow whisky geek, there was a suggestion that perhaps I should compare it to a modern edition to see if the older bottle was really faded compared to an original. Only one way to find out. At least I now had the luxury of online retail rather than a trip to the US.
Wild Turkey Rare Breed (2021)
Region – USA (Bourbon) Age – NAS Strength – 58.4% Colour – Tawny (1.4) Cask Type – American Oak No.4 char Colouring – No Chill Filtered – Not Stated Nose – Wood, vanilla, caramel, honey, orange rind, cherry. Palate – Immediately sweet on arrival. Caramelised brown sugar, vanilla, cherries, milk chocolate. Wood notes with a peppery heat. Finish – medium length finish, a bit of solvent, with more sweetness followed by cherries, oak, slightly floral towards the end.
I think I got away with the older bottle. I suspect there has been some deterioration but not too much. While the newer bottle had a bit more kick, it was bottled at a higher abv. Tasting both side by side revealed a close similarity but not quite. The older bottle had a more vegetal finish which I suspect could be a hint of old bottle effect. Both bottles still pleasant to drink, although the older bottle benefited more from water.
Both needed a bit of water, though I did also enjoyed both neat. The newer one was obviously brighter on the palate but not overly so. I’d say these are going to be my winter drams as quite warming. However the older dram was more astringent and left my mouth very dry afterwards.
While I don’t recommend leaving open bottles of whisky 24 years before drinking again, it’s safe to say you can get away with it if the bottle has been kept properly.
This concludes my planned sampling of world whisky and it will be back to Scotch next time. Or will it? I still have some German, Danish and South African whisky left that was given to me by followers on Twitter. There might be a wee mini review in the future, but next I return to Speyside for a pleasant change.
Yours in Spirits
All Photos – Authors Own