Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wild Turkey 13 Year Distiller's Reserve

Distillery: Wild Turkey
Age: 13 Years
Proof: 91 (45.5% ABV)
Price: JPY 6000

Filling out the age statement Wild Turkey produced for the Japanese market is the Wild Turkey 13 year. Even though its the oldest member of the bunch, you wouldn't know it from the taste.

According to the explanation on the side of the box, the 13 Year is specially selected from barrels that aged on the lower levels of the rickhouse. This drives the alcohol content down and also makes the barrels age more slowly than those higher in the rickhouse. Accordingly, all 13 years that this bourbon has spent in the barrel are not borne out in the taste profile. For comparison, Wild Turkey Master's Keep, which was bottled at a barrel strength of 86.8 proof, was also aged at the bottom of the rickhouse

Wild Turkey used to distill at a lower proof than other distillers, allowing the company to add less water to the finished product and, according to the company, achieve a richer flavor. It stands to reason that a lower proof going into the barrel means there is less margin for error in the aging process. I have a suspicion that the 13 year was in part created in part to allow Wild Turkey to sell aged bourbons that had fallen below 101 proof mark at a premium price. This makes a lot of sense in Japan where age statements sell bottles.

The bottom line is that even though this bourbon is one year older than the Wild Turkey 12 Year, it tastes younger and has more in common with the Wild Turkey 8 Year.

This bourbon also seems to be geared toward the Japanese pallet which makes it a milder experience overall than the Wild Turkey 12 Year. Overall, however, the flavors are more balanced. This bourbon would work very well in a highball, which is unfortunately how a lot of high end whiskey is consumed in Japan.

The nose is somewhat deceiving. It has the beautifully developed nose of the Wild Turkey 12 year that is not backed up by the flavor.

Upon tasting, you can immediately tell this is related to the 8 and 12 year. A little more spice and a little more balance than the 8 year overall. The dark caramel flavors that predominated the 12 year are missing, but there is not as much vying for the attention of your pallet as there was with the 8 year.

Honestly, this bourbon seems like it was made to be given as a gift, probably to someone who doesn't know much about bourbon. The packaging includes a box, it has a nice 13-year age statement and is marked as "distiller's reserve." Unfortunately, your paying for what's on the outside of the bottle as much as you are paying for what's inside.

Verdict: Save your money for something else like Blanton's Straight from the Barrel.

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