Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wild Turkey 8 Year

Distillery: Wild Turkey
Age: 8 Years
Proof: 101 (50.5% ABV)
Price: JPY 2500

This is the youngest Wild Turkey bottling to bear an age statement. In terms of age, it sits between Wild Turkey 101 and Wild Turkey 12 Year. Wild Turkey 101, though it doesn't bear an age statement, is a blend of 6-8 year whiskey. This means that the Wild Turkey 8-year shouldn't be substantially different from the 101.

Until the 1990s, Wild Turkey 8 year was available in the U.S. Over time, however, the age statement disappeared. At first, it was replaced with the phrase "No. 8" and eventually any mention of the number "8" disappeared altogether. Japanese consumers, however, place a strong emphasis on age statements, so this expression has remained available in Japan even after disappearing from shelves in the U.S. This is not to say that currently available Wild Turkey 8 Year can compete with Wild Turkey from the 1990s.

At half the price of the Wild Turkey 12 Year, however, you would expect that it won't be quite as good. It's got all the flavors that make the 12 Year great, but those extra four years really calm down and integrate these flavors so that they're working in unison and not fighting for your attention.

Looking at the glass, the color is a tawny brown. Enough light shines through to betray the fact that flavors will not be particularly decadent. About what you would expect from an 8-year-old bourbon.

Right off the bat there is a lot of wood flavor vying for your attention along with the 50.5% of the bourbon that consists of alcohol. Once those two settle in you get those classic caramel and vanilla flavors of the Wild Turkey taste profile with a little bit of a medicinal finish. All in all, it is more similar Wild Turkey 101 than the 12 Year, which is to be expected given that similarity in both age and price point.

I have a theory that the large differences between Wild Turkey 8 and 12 year are a result of an increase in barrel entry proof. Wild Turkey increased their barrel entry proof from 110° to 115° around 2006. This means that Wild Turkey 8 year that appeared on the market beginning around 2014 would have consisted of the newer distillate, while the Wild Turkey 12 would still be coming from barrels with a lower entry proof. This theory is further supported by the fact that the old label Wild Turkey 8 (right) that I have tried was much better, and much more like the 12 year, than the new label bottles (above).

Verdict: If you are a Wild Turkey fan, consider picking one of these up if you can't find the 12 Year (now that it is out of production).

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