Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wild Turkey 12 Year

Distillery: Wild Turkey
Age: 12 Years
Proof: 101 (50.5% ABV)
Price: JPY 5500 (Historical)

Age stated Wild Turkey 101 is one of the most sought-after Japanese only bourbons. In part, this is because of limited edition bottling of Wild Turkey 12 year that used to be released in the U.S. The most well known of these releases are known as the "cheesy gold foil" and "split-label." The cheesy gold foil variant is the older of the two and had a reflective gold label with a picture of a turkey in flight above the age statement. The split-label, as the name implies, has a label that is split into two parts - the larger top portion contains the Wild Turkey brand name and a picture of a turkey to the right and the smaller bottom portion contains the age statement. I tasted the cheesy gold foil variant at Cask Strength and it was very good. One of the best bourbons I have ever tasted.

Do the Japanese releases measure up? No, but they are still very good.

The 12 Year sits in the middle of the current age-stated Wild Turkey offerings - at four years older than the 8 Year and 1 Year younger than the 13 Year. Those four extra years in the barrel compared 8 Year have really made a difference.

There are two variants of Wild Turkey 12 commonly encountered in Japan. The older label (pictured above) and the newer label (pictured below). The change from the old to new label occurred in about 2003. Unlike the 8 Year, I don't think there is any reason to prefer the older bottles to the the newer.

The nose has a lot of dark fruit and brown sugar. It smells very similar to the Blanton's Straight From the Barrel.

The taste really lives up to the nose. Its sweet at first with caramel and moving to lots of wood. It tastes the way bourbon should, which is not surprising given that Wild Turkey uses a standard (12-13% rye) mash bill. Every time I come back to this bottle after spending some time away, I'm very surprised at how much I enjoy the bourbon. It's truly excellent.

Unfortunately, Wild Turkey 12 went out of production in 2014. While this bourbon can still be found on shelves with some diligence, it is only getting very hard to find. Some online sites are now asking around JPY 15,000 per bottle. I'm not sure that it's worth the marked up price.

Verdict: If you happen to come across one of these bottles at retail, buy it.

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