While I’m well aware that marketing (especially in the Bourbon industry) is generally just a bunch of bullshitty fluff, I’m also quick to admit that I love a good story. The following is the story of Wild Turkey’s Master Keep which piqued my interests and got me all excited to drink some.
“The story of Master’s Keep begins in 1997. Wild Turkey had a surplus of Bourbon and no warehouse space left, so Eddie needed a place to store and age the extra barrels. A friend at another distillery offered his empty stone warehouses, but Eddie knew these would age the Bourbon differently than the wooden warehouses at Wild Turkey. He decided to take a chance and experiment a little, and so the barrels spent several years in stone warehouses before eventually coming back to Wild Turkey’s wooden ones. After 17 years and 200 miles, Eddie felt these traveling barrels had reached their peak flavor. It is fair to say that this Bourbon is a welcome innovation in long-aged whiskey. And, much to his surprise, when the barrels were dumped they were at a much lower proof than anticipated. Barreled at 107 proof, the whiskey was 89 proof when dumped and 86.8 proof (43.4% alc./vol.) when bottled – a result of the time these particular barrels spent aging in stone warehouses.” – Campari
So that can’t be just marketing, it’s a cool story right!? I’m all for the experimentation here and seeing how the varying aging conditions are going to impact the final product. So enough about the story, as fun as it is, let’s see if all that moving around made for some delicious whiskey.
Header photo and sample provided by @fletcher_whiskeydog
Distillery: Wild Turkey Distillery
Location: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
Mash bill: 75% corn/13% rye/12% barley
Age: 17 years
ABV: 43.4% (86.8 proof)
Released: Fall 2015
Color: Orange honey
Nose: Big vanilla is the most obvious aroma here, but it’s joined by quite a few other things, some good, some not so good. Fruity barrel funk is a big player which gives a clue to the Bourbon’s age, but it’s got an odd, almost moldy, edge to it. Pears, cinnamon, and a cardboard-like quality round it out.
Taste: Cinnamon spice is front and center along with some vanilla, oak, and honey. The feel is thin, much thinner than I expected. which is a bummer. Like the aroma, there is some funk here, but it’s just not the right kind, and the alcohol comes across much more than it should for a sub-90-proof pour. There is way more corn than there should be in a 17-year-old.
Finish: What little intensity existed from the sip quickly dissipates leaving a somewhat astringent and thin experience in its place with hints of oak, baking spices, and citrus.
Overall: I was looking forward to this one. I’m not a Wild Turkey hater at all, and the chance at a 17-year-old release with that level of variables during its aging sounded super interesting, but man it just didn’t work. This one tastes young, simple, and to be blunt, just plain cheap. Thank the good lord that @fletcherwhiskeydog sent us a sample and saved me that $130!