Until two years ago, I wasn't the biggest fan of Wild Turkey. Oh, I wanted to be. Jimmy and Eddie Russell are amazing people. I love their dedication to the trade and just what good, decent people they both are. I just wasn't a fan of what I'd tasted.
Two years ago, I got into a barrel pick of Russell's Reserve. I thought this would be an excellent challenge for me since I wasn't a fan. As it turned out, I enjoyed it. I wound up accepting the sample and gave my stamp of approval for the barrel. Then I did it again a bit later. And again. And a fourth time. One of those involved a trip to Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, to do a pick with my cohorts at Bourbon & Banter.
Needless to say, I changed my mind about Wild Turkey.
When a friend handed me a sample of Wild Turkey Master's Keep 17-Year Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, I couldn't wait to try it. Patience is a virtue, I wanted to have enough concentration to provide a review, especially since the Master's Keep is a pricy series, and I wanted to do this properly.
This Bourbon begins the way Wild Turkey always begins. It starts with a mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. Then it aged 17 years at the Camp Nelson rickhouses. If you're unfamiliar with Camp Nelson, this is the prime real estate to age Wild Turkey whiskey. Any bottled marked CN comes from those rickhouses. Like every Bottled-in-Bond spirit, it is bottled at 100°, and retail on a 750ml package was $175.00. This was released in 2020, and only 14,400 bottles were offered, which means very likely you're looking at secondary pricing if you come across one.
For $175.00, a Bourbon better be pretty damned special! That means it is time to #DrinkCurious to discover what this one has to offer.
Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Master's Keep showed me an absolute orange amber. While it left a thin rim on the wall, the legs were thicker and sticky.
Nose: I found the nose to be very fragrant while I allowed it to breathe. Aromas of leather, orange citrus, cherry pie filling, almond, smoked oak, and sassafras took me many attempts to nail down. When I brought the vapor into my mouth, vanilla and cherry rolled back to my throat.
Palate: The mouthfeel was incredibly oily and offered a fuller body. The front of my palate picked up cherry, orange, cola, and smoked oak. Once it hit the middle, I tasted flavors of vanilla, toffee, caramel, apple, and pear. The back got spicy with rye, clove, oak, and tobacco leaf.
Finish: Rye and oak persisted with the finish. They were joined by black pepper and old leather. The finish was medium in length, which was slightly disappointing.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: As I said earlier, for $175 a Bourbon better be damned special. I found Master's Keep to be proofed correctly. It didn't sizzle my hard palate and it kept me coming back for additional sips to find all the flavors in this complex whiskey. It was overall quite delicious. I mentioned the finish was disappointing. The only reason was that I loved it and wanted it to go on forever. This one is pretty damned special, and it earned every bit of my Bottle rating. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It