Wild Turkey Spiced
86 proof; no age statement
The story: Bourbons with flavors added may seem like a relatively new idea, but Wild Turkey introduced a honey-flavored bourbon back in 1976 (it’s now known as American Honey). The company adds another flavor this fall with Wild Turkey Spiced, a product intended to appeal to drinkers of spiced rum.
“I wanted to develop a liquid that brought to life the best of our robust bourbon, while borrowing cues that have made island spirits so appealing,” associate master distiller Eddie Russell says in Wild Turkey’s news release on the new product. “As the category continues to grow, many people, especially rum drinkers, are becoming curious about bourbon and its sophisticated, more pronounced taste profile. We believe Wild Turkey Spiced is the perfect drink to bring them into the category.”
Wild Turkey Spiced is being promoted with a digital campaign about life on the “Island of Kentucky” that is pretty amusing (I shared this shark-riding jockey earlier). Less amusing – to The Bourbon Babe, anyway – is the company’s proclamation that Wild Turkey Spiced is a “more masculine choice” for spiced-rum drinkers looking to “man up” and make the move to whiskey (hence, I suppose, the tagline “Mighty Spirit” on the label). I’m not sure what is particularly manly about a whiskey that tastes like rum, particularly one that “really shines when mixed with cola,” as the release says. I stopped mixing bourbon with cola after college, and I don’t feel the need to man up, but Wild Turkey kindly sent me a sample of Spiced and I did the best I could to taste it considering my limitations.
Aroma: Sweet, very buttery. Brown sugar and a hint of cherry – a definite rum profile.
Taste: Very much like rum on the front, with lots of sweet brown sugar and caramel. The peppery bite of the spices – cinnamon, cloves – kicks in next, along with the tannic notes of oak (like all Wild Turkey products, this is aged in oak barrels with a No. 4 char, the deepest level). The oak lingers in the finish along with the brown sugar.
Verdict: Wild Turkey Spiced is an entry-point bourbon – a bourbon designed to entice or intrigue someone who doesn’t ordinarily drink bourbon. As those go, it’s the best one I’ve tasted so far. The spices blend with the whiskey’s profile much better than the cherry flavoring in some other starter bourbons, for instance. Tasting it on the first day of fall seemed appropriate, as its spices recall the baking spices you might use in pumpkin pie, and I might play around with it in some warming cocktails. Will drinking it encourage someone to move on to full-strength bourbon – particularly full-strength Wild Turkey, which has (unfairly, in my opinion) been criticized by some as too aggressive? Hard to say, but it seems unlikely. As for me, I’ll stick with Wild Turkey 101, a true “Mighty Spirit.”