A soft and inoffensive whiskey, the Wild Turkey 80 is/was a lack-luster introduction to the world of Wild Turkey bourbon. It has most of the Wild Turkey flavors and aromas that make it’s big brother the 101 a tremendous whiskey, but they are softer, gentler and at times feels a bit muddled. It’s alright in a pinch, but being a young (4 years) 80 proof I just don’t get that Wild Turkey kick I like and it feels a bit tame. Which is probably why they cut it and replaced it with the 81 which, beyond being a proof point higher, is also aged for 6-8 years.
Wild Turkey got it’s start in 1869 as the Ripy Family Distillery and even though the distillery was moth balled during prohibition it was brought back to life soon after. In 1941 it picked up the name Wild Turkey after a turkey hunt. A distillery executive named Thomas McCarthy took a few samples on a wild turkey hunt in 1940 to share with his friends and they all liked what they had. The following year his buddies asked him for more of that “wild turkey whiskey” and the rest is delicious bourbon history.
Overall this is an ok bourbon and, since it’s been replaced by the Wild Turkey 81 in recent years, bottles of the 80 are increasingly difficult to find and that’s not really a bad thing. It’s soft, sweet, and when compared to the marvelous 101, or even the current 81, it’s a bit bland. I’ve never really cared for it too much and never found it be exciting as a sipping whiskey and have mostly used it as a mixer over the years. Though being the only bottle I’ve seen in almost 2 years I’ll be honoring it’s memory by finishing this bottle neat.
If you’ve had the Wild Turkey 80 I’d love to see your notes in the comments below.
Wild Turkey 80 Review
Distiller: Austin Nichols / Wild Turkey
A very watered down bourbon spice limps out of the glass accompanied with some lemony citrus, butterscotch, raisins, caramel and barley.
Whiskey spice is again dominant but it’s watered down and muted. A muddled citrus and caramel combine with a corn bread like quality, a cognac like flavor and a butterscotch like flavor to create something that is weak and lacking direction. I’m honestly not too sad to see this one off of the market.
Watery but strangely rougher than the 81. Rough enough to burn a bit up the sinuses like horseraddish. This harsh feeling mouth feel is one of the reasons I have relegated it to cocktails over the years.
The after taste is a bit medicinal. There’s a hint of cherry pie that is unfortunately fleeting. It then descends into a murky caramel syrup and mushy wet wood flavor that is thankfully short.