Today I pay tribute to the mighty United States of America and in passing to the incredible social media community of whisky aficionados.
The latter because late last week the word went out that the subject of review todays whisky was for sale at a well known online American retailer at a vastly discounted price. This is the third time in as many months that the word has gone out about whisky opportunities, Lagavulin Distillers Edition, Johnny Walker Green label and now Wild Turkey 101.
Now I have been fascinated about all things American since the age of 8. My parents gave me a radio and every Monday night I hid under the bedclothes an listened to the Monday night football match, on US Forces radio I believe. When the first opportunity to play American sport cropped up I signed up, for Basketball at age 12 I subsequently went on to university and National League teams. At Uni my team mates were from Kentucky, Indiana and California. Our favourite game was against a U.S. Navy Base as we drank in the Enlisted men’s club and had access to the base PX store stocking up on US beer and of course Bourbon.
The team generally favoured Wild Turkey my own favourite was Rebel Yell. Not because of the taste but rather because in those days (maybe still) the label read;
‘Not to be sold north of the Mason Dixon Line’
This appeals to my Scottish Sense of the perverse or in Scots what is known as to be thrawn. Thrawn is that obstinate stubbornness to take your own path preferably in opposition to the majority or indeed anyone in authority based on a notion of absolute conviction.
Other noted examples are:
Scotland is allegedly the only country in the world where Coke is not the number one soft drink by consumption. Scots do not dislike Coke in the least but there is a tasty quirkily marketed Scottish alternative called Irn Bru. If you have missed this phenomena I suggest you Search Irn Bro Snowman on You Tube and you will get the gist of it and its brand appeal.
My other favourite story was when the English Football Association invited an online poll to name the access road(or was it the footbridge) to the new Wembley stadium. It took no time for the Tartan Army to rustle up sufficient support to make the ‘Jim Baxter’ Way the winner. JimBaxter was the Scottish footballer who famously played ‘keepie upie’ in the dying moments of Scotland’s 3-2 win over the recently crowned 1966 World Champion English side. The English FA who had wanted it named the Bobby Moore way needless to say quickly ignored the result and I believe it was named the Wembley Way and subsequently the Olympic Way, the Bobby Moore way being off the North Circular now.
Now I love America and Americans and have had the privilege of working there extensively from Houston in the South to the Ica Roads of Alaska as an oilman not a trucker, from Washington State to New York and New Jersey with several points in between. Indeed my great grandfather died and is buried in Denver. I think he was working his trade as a tailor rather than prospecting for Gold but who knows. Well I have struck Gold with todays review Wild Turkey 101. 101 refers to the proof which is 50.5% ABV.
The Nose is fabulous sweet spicy and smoky from the #4 char on the barrels.
The taste is a heady mix of oak, vanilla and the sweet liquid caramel found inside some chocolate bars and sweets which swirls powerfully around a spicy slightly hickory core.
Finally the finish maintains all these elements with a wonderful mouth coating effect that ensures the quality sustains.
With just two drops of water the nose explodes with even stronger spice notes and the flavour including that classic Bourbon note of Ice cream Soda that I recall first attracting me to Bourbon, that heady tone of charred oak and sweet creamy vanilla. Wonderfull American bold and forceful with its own traditions just a little but thrawn.
It is easily drunk neat despite its being very nearly the cask strength of the Wild Turkey Rare Breed which at 112.8 proof – 56.4% ABV goes the whole way albeit at a greater price. There are occasional spirit notes which some may find overpowering but it is a beautifully balanced drink which will henceforth always have a place in my whisky collection.
God Bless America!