Saturday, November 17, 2007

Last Night's Tipple

Wild Turkey has lots and lots of bottlings. There are the 80 proof and 101 proof Bourbons, the straight rye, Russell's Reserve Bourbon, Russell's Reserve Rye, Rare Breed Bourbon (the barrel-proof offering), and Kentucky Spirit (the single-barrel offering), to say nothing of the one-off bottlings like American Spirit or Tribute. And that's just in the United States. Overseas, one can also get the 101 proof 8 year, the 101 proof 12 year, the 86.8 proof, and Freedom (another barrel-proof offering of age combinations slightly different from Rare Breed). Every variation that I have tried has been good, which of course just makes me want to try more variations. I had been wanting to try Kentucky Spirit for a while, and so I bought a bottle on Friday evening. Mine states on the neck band that it was bottled on May 8, 2007 from barrel number 69 in warehouse E on rick number 13. I have no idea whether anything other than the date of bottling means anything, but there it is. It is bottled at 101 proof, just like WT's most famous and popular bottling. Other things about the packaging, though, are very different. The standard 101 proof bottling comes in an unassuming bottle-shaped bottle, closed with a simple, unassuming, plastic-topped cork. Kentucky Spirit comes in a fancy, flask-shaped bottle with stylized ridges suggesting a fanned-out turkey's tail and is closed with a fancy, carved-wood-topped cork. (I have read that the original Kentucky Spirit bottles actually had corks topped with a pewter turkey figuring). And Kentucky Spirit is expensive, too: more than twice as expensive as a bottle of the standard 101, which itself has a price similar to other premium Bourbons like Maker's Mark.

Is it worth it? Well, that's a question of value that every consumer must consider for himself, but I can say that it is delicious. It has the same spicy sweetness that I have experienced with other WT bottlings (like cinnamon bread pudding, at least to me), although it is distinct from the others. It seems a bit subtler and refined than Rare Breed, which has been my favorite Turkey. After trying Kentucky Spirit, I can't really say whether I prefer it to Rare Breed or the other way around. I imagine that that would depend on mood. And, fortunately, I don't have to choose one or the other: both are plentiful. As a single-barrel offering, one would think that there will be noticeable variation from bottle to bottle. I will be interested to see if that's the case.

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