...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Wild Turkey 101 Rye Taste Off: 2011 bottling versus 2018 bottling

In 2012, Wild Turkey 101 Rye was great and it was $20. I remember one of Bacardi's distributors telling me that demand had exceeded supply, and that 101 Rye would soon disappear from shelves. In my 2012 naïveté I thought, "Huh, that sounds kinda concerning." The rye was gone that very month.

Three years later it returned with a 50%-100% price jump and a 33% larger bottle (750mL to 1000mL). It was another four years before I bought a bottle of the new stuff. And it took me another two years to do this comparison.

And only now am I appreciating how much more useful this review would have been SIX YEARS AGO. Nothing if not timely around here.

I could have taken a worse picture too,
but that would've just been showing off.

The sample of the old label 2011 bottling on the left was from the bottle I reviewed 105 moons ago. The sample on the right is from the 2018 bottling I bought and finished in 2019-2020. Both ryes performed very well in Manhattans and Old Fashioneds, here's a look at the two served neatly:

Wild Turkey 101 Rye, 50.5%abv, bottled 2011

In the nose, apples and pears stew slowly with cinnamon and cloves. Smaller notes of thyme, blossoms and creamsicles float in and out. Gentle barrel char mixes with cherry bubblegum.

Fresh cherries and cherry lollipops meet in the palate, followed by ginger beer, sweet red plums, cassis and applesauce. The char moves from the rear to the fore with time, though the fruits always remain.

The cherries, plums and ginger remain in the finish, with a pinch of pepper in the background.

Wow, this was great! I'd even keep it away from the cocktails and just sip it neatly. Between this, the earlier Rittenhouse BIBs and Willett's LDI single barrels, we were spoiled ten years ago. I should have bought more etc., etc., etc. Damn.


Wild Turkey 101 Rye, 50.5%abv, bottled 2018

The nose begins simpler. Plenty of cherries, some split lumber, more citrus and cardamom. More pepper, more ethyl. Mint, flowers and something beefy in the background.

The palate feels rougher, slightly hotter. I find more char and peppercorns, reminding me of the 101 Bourbon. Moderate notes of soil, salt and savory roll through the midground. Cherry lollies and apricots highlight the background.

Barrel char leads the finish, with cherries and salt appearing later.

Compared to the 2011, this one has more aggressive oak and youthful jagged edges. It's fine and sturdy on its own but works much better when giving Manhattans more heft. And if you dare to pour it over one large ice cube, you may find it does its job as a summer sipper.


Though the 2011 wins outright with its fruits and gentler maturation, it's not like one can just choose between these two ryes in a store. The latter bottling is what's on the shelf, and the former is priced high on the secondary market. No, the current edition isn't $20, but at $34 for one liter, it's one of the better options in that price range in most states. (Though I'd give Old Forester Rye the edge.)

No comments:

Post a Comment