Review: Wild Turkey Master's Keep 17 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

17 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
~75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Distiller Wild Turkey (Lawrenceburg, Kentucky)

This whiskey is at 43.4%, but it sits at cask strength! Typically, in Kentucky, the ABV increases in a cask, but not so for this particular whisky. Wild Turkey puts whiskey into the barrel at a bit of a lower ABV compared to some others - just 53.5%, but this whisky dropped more than 10% over its 17 year maturation. So, certainly, we can expect something a bit unique…

These particular barrels travelled over 200 miles over there lifetimes, between maturation in wood rickhouses, then stone warehouses, and then wood rickhouses once again. The movement was simply a matter of lack of space and inventory management, as well as water damage in the stone warehouse. Generally, the barrels were matured in a moist, damp environment compared to most bourbons - leading to a drop, rather than increase in ABV (ABV goes up in a barrel in a dry environment, but drops in a humid one).

This was Eddie Russell’s debut release as master distiller, and represents the oldest Wild Turkey to date.

Review (2019)

  • Batch: 0001

  • Bottling Code: LLNEB081530

  • Bottling Date: 2015

The nose is awesome! Rich and woody, with a nice set of fruits – baked peaches, prunes, plums, vanilla custard, dried apricot, vanilla icing, nice rye spices, coffee cake, cinnamon, with some nice grain notes emerging with time – at different times, first corn, then malt, then rye, at least in this tasting. There are some nice blueberry notes, too, like you see with well aged Canadian whisky or Scotch.

The palate is very clean, with some very nice old notes. Leather, oak tannins, vanilla, baking spices, white pepper, caramel, and a nuttiness that emerges very nicely in the middle. It’s very buttery – perhaps an understatment. Incredible mouthfeel. It finishes with some light earthiness and some citrus pith. Caramel rolls out into the finish, too, quite nicely.

Even after just one sip, I knew this was my favourite Wild Turkey that I’ve tasted (including the next two Master’s Keeps). This is very good. It lacks just a touch of richness that I would crave mid-palate, but that’s a very minor objection…

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Really good whisky, but pricy. It’s good enough not to be a bad buy against the market, but I also suppose that’s how cheap you find it for. I found this for about 115$ USD (~$140 CAD)