Wild Turkey Forgiven Review

Wild Turkey Forgiven Review

The tale of Wild Turkey Forgiven (WTF) goes as follows. One day the distillery crew there at Wild Turkey mistakenly combined one of their high-proof ryes with their bourbon when blending. The Master Distiller, Eddie Russell, ended up liking the mix and told them all was forgiven, hence the name.

Forgiven is made from 78% 6 year bourbon and 22% 4 year rye and with that mix ratio It’s no surprise that the rye character sticks out so much. High West has made 2 great bourbon rye blends (Bourye & Son of Bourye) where the characters of the bourbon and the rye work harmoniously. I’m not really feeling that same harmony with this one as bourbon dominates the nose while rye dominates the palate instead of getting a nicely balanced symphony of the two.

Wild Turkey Forgiven Review

ABV: 45.5%
Price: $50
Distiller: Wild Turkey
Batch: 302


Bourbon is dominant on the nose with caramel and dessert notes hitting before the rye spice. Along with the caramel and rye spice are notes of citrus, vanilla, cherries, ripe orchard fruit and cinnamon.

Rye spice and that Wild Turkey fingerprint come first with some caramel, orange zest, cinnamon, pepper, leather, chocolate, a hint of melon and an overall nutty overtone.

Long dry finish that starts out with astringent rye spice and oak before fading to caramel syrup.

The rye rolls right over the bourbon notes and dominate throwing it off balance. Has a medium body with rough texture that packs a punch. This run hotter (carries more burn) than Wild Turkey 101.

I feel a little ambivalent towards the Wild Turkey Forgiven. It’s good, but it just doesn’t feel quite right. Almost like it’s unfinished or a work in progress, and at the price point I can’t say I love that aspect and it makes me a bit sad to say that about something from one of my favorite distilleries. It also makes me sad to think that may be the reason we won’t be able buy any Wild Turkey Rye 101 anywhere except at a bar (on-premise) anytime soon is because of this “snafu” and between the two I’d rather have the 101 Rye.

SCORE: 84/100



Wild Turkey Forgiven: Empty Bottle Reflections (01-10-15 update)

After finishing this I have zero desire to ever buy another bottle. Not because this is complete garbage, because it’s not, but because of the price and especially when there are some great bourbon rye blends out there like Son of Bourye from High West and the recently re-released Bourye I’d rather buy those.

The only noticeable change while drinking through it was the dark fruit starting to appear more towards the end and now, with this last glass, it’s become fairly prominent along with the cinnamon which has moved up the chain a notch or two. Outside of those two little adjustments it didn’t get any more exciting or boring. Though if you get the chance I still recommend giving it a try because who knows, you may love it. I know several people who do.

FINAL VERDICT: Try before you buy.

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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22 Responses to Wild Turkey Forgiven Review

  1. A co-worker gave me a bottle of this for my birthday, I actually really like it. I might just be an odd duck, but I kinda like the “unfinished / off-balanced-ness” of it. Not something that I would drink everyday, but overall its very enjoyable poured over a little ice. Overall, I would recommend it to other Burbon drinkers as “something different” but not when trying to introduce Burbon to someone new.

    • It’s not terrible that’s for sure. For me it’s in that weird range where I wouldn’t turn down a glass or be disappointed if someone gave it to me as a gift, but I’m also not likely to ever purchase it again for myself. 100% agree with you on it being something bourbon (and rye) drinkers should all try if they get the chance.

  2. There seems to be a consensus that consumers are screaming for new product, so it’s hardly surprising to see something unique like this turn up .. when everyone else is dropping ‘all new’ variations of their product on the market (even Chivas has come up with a new blend) to rest on your laurels could be market suicide.
    Thing is, I agree that this is more marketing then it is product. I paid the full tote for it, and it is an interesting whiskey .. however no one else I offered it too would go anywhere near it both from the taste and the price. I’m a sucker for Rye so it sits fine with me, but the price is far too dear when there are more specialized bottles on the market that capture the Rye flavour so much better. Paying such a high price for a ‘unique’ and as they themselves put it ‘accidental’ blend is not really going to get you more market share, and has more risk of people turning from your product due to the inconsistant flavour .. and for possibly being thought of as a sucker who paid top dollar for a below average, unrefined drink.
    Buy it and try it if you enjoy Rye and also enjoy unique variations which exude character .. but if you want a consistant drink, save your money and buy your regular .. ’cause there’s a good chance this will only disappoint you.
    Hot tip .. they’re dumping them in Australia, so watch the shelves as you could pick this up for a bargain price very shortly. For a cheaper price it is well worth the experience.

    • I’m not surprised to see it at all and I love seeing the innovations. I just wish they would call it a new product instead of a mistake. 100% agree with you that at a cheaper price point it’s a good buy, but overpriced as is. Good to know about the Australia situation. I’ll have to watch and see if the price drops anytime soon.

  3. I have had top shelf, middle shelf and bottom of the barrel, so in my humble opinion, I have to say that believe I have a fairly good palate with regards to Bourbons. I was introduced to Wild Turkey by my brother in-law that attests to 101 as the finest bourbon made. It is a departure from my wheated brands of Bourbon that I gravitate to, such as W.L. Weller Antique, but I found out why my brother in-law liked it so much. Then Christmas time came around and someone slipped me a bottle of forgiven. A smile came across my face. This was one I had wanted to experience for a while. However, after sampling the bottle of Batch 303 Forgiven, I was not em pressed. Someone described it as sort of unfinished, a work in progress. I would tend to agree. There are subtle notes that do not lay on the palate well. It finishes with no lingering burn. However, the continued wanting of another taste is more for trying to figure out what is there. As far as the price point, it is way over priced for what you end up experiencing. In conclusion, the high price point is not justified. I could not recommend it nor would I purchase a bottle for myself. Bourbon is a drink to be savored and “Forgiven” does not offer that unique experience.

  4. Thanks for the update on your last drink of Wild Turkey Forgiven. I was curious if this one would improve in score. 101 is a fantastic bourbon, one of those bottles I always have on hand. I’ve tried some of the other Wild Turkey offerings, including Kentucky Spirit (but still haven’t tried Rare Breed), but honestly I haven’t found anything better than 101’s balance of price, taste, and versatility. It doesn’t sound like Forgiven is something I’ll pick up myself. For that same price I was able to get a bottle of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel the other day. I’ve yet to open that one, but am very much looking forward to that as I’ve heard phenomenal things about that whiskey from pretty much everyone (including yourself).

    • Hey Colin,

      Thank you and I totally agree, the 101 is hard to beat for value, but that RR single Barrel comes very close. Higher proof, older whiskey and a richer character in every bottle I’ve had so I’d say you made a great choice 🙂


  5. Firstly, I find it hard to trust the expertise of someone who doesn’t know how to properly spellcheck or fact check his article before publishing it. The crew member, and it was just ONE crew member, made the accidental batch, and it was Eddie Russell, not Jimmy, who was able to salvage the batch and make it into a 91 proof. Deciding to bottle and sell it, they were surprised at how well it did, and the accidental batch sold out. Eddie decided to recreate one more batch, in which there are only a few of those bottles left and that would be that. Those bottles from the second batch that are left are for sale for $58.95 at the Wild Turkey Visitors Center.

    That being said, I do not drink bourbon very often, but the only one I can handle right now is American Honey. However, I tried Forgiven today at the end of my…4th or 5th tour of the distillery, and I happened to like it. Had a slight burn on the way down, but I thought it had a good flavor overall. If only they would make one more batch…

    • I find it hard to care about the opinion of someone who doesn’t drink whiskey and considers American Honey a bourbon. It’s not, look at the label next time oh queen of details – it’s a 71 proof LIQUEUR… not a bourbon. It doesn’t meet any of the TTB guidelines to even call itself a whiskey. But you, having such infinite knowledge from doing your own research, obviously already knew that so I don’t know why I even bothered pointing that out to you.

      If you actually read the article above, princess, you’ll see that I did indeed say that it was Eddie and not Jimmy as you so erroneously thought that it was. I did say distillery crew because that is what the press releases were saying a year and a half ago. Though I’m guessing your adrenaline fueled excitement at getting a chance to stick it to the blogger made it hard for you to look at the date of this post and then even bother to see what the distillery was saying at the time. I understand, it’s fun to get all uppity and self-righteous at someone you can’t see face-to-face.

      As for the spelling mistake, you’re absolutely right. Out of 511 words I missed the ‘i’ in ‘right’ under the Overall section. Please forgive me oh grammar queen for my 99.8% accuracy. Though if we want to get picky…

      Your comment starts with “Firstly” and there is no secondly or thirdly, so you can omit that in your next holier-than-thou comment, it’s not necessary. You have 3 instances of commas being where a comma shouldn’t. You use the word “that” like a crutch and could omit most of them; removing them will tighten up your future tirades. There is absolutely no reason to put “…” between ‘my’ and ‘4th’. You also don’t need the “…” at the end of your tantrum either. You didn’t paint a picture and trail off for my imagination to finish it, nor did you use it as a pause to build suspense – you just stated an opinion. Though I can see how you were trying to convey wistfulness so I’ll give you a pass for the time being. Grading on a curve I’d give you a C+ overall.

      Seriously, the next time you decide to point out a single spelling error, which I fixed just for you, make sure your comment is tight as a drum. Otherwise you just look like… well… an idiot.


    • Yeah, I would dismiss anyone who would criticize my personal assessment of any whiskey when they openly admit that they can only handle Wild Turkey American Honey. That pretty much makes your argument null and void.

  6. how many batches of this were bottled and how many total bottles are out there? I found 2 from Batch 303 today at Virginia ABC so I bought them both. ! to try and 1 to save for who knows what.

  7. Great review! It is interesting how our noses differ. I get lots of rye on the nose, (for a blend). In any case, I’m drinking batch no. 302, and really enjoying it. Kind of reminds me of Knob Creek or Bakers…..thick bourbon notes, with a presence of rye. Definitely not the crispness and floral notes of Four Roses, (Four Roses Single Barrel is for crying out loud, one of the best values in bourbon today). To me this is a great “let’s try something different” dram. Cheers!

    • Cheers Patrick. You have one of the later batches where they did it on purpose and it’s much more balanced than this first mistake batch. I’ve had the purposely blended batches a couple of times and they’ve been great. I should try to find a bottle and do an updated review of a later batch.

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