Wild Turkey 81 Kentucky Straight Bourbon


Wild Turkey 81 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

While the rest of the world is busy trying to imitate Kentucky’s famed spirit, those north of the 49th are improving it. As many of you know I’m more of a Scotch drinker; I appreciate the nuance. This is largely due to my experience with the endless lineup of one-dimensional drams that can often define college life. But we grow up. We try new things. And eventually, we even change our minds.

The drink: Wild Turkey 81 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

The method: Poured neat into a crystal whisky glass at room temperature.

Editor’s notes: Wild Turkey’s 81 Kentucky Straight Bourbon pours a deep amber (owing to the alligator char American oak barrels it is aged in) and lacks the syrupy appearance of bourbons with higher sugar content. Anticipating a slightly boozier kick (it clocks in at 81 per cent ABV), the first sip revealed instead a smooth blend of sweet tobacco, vanilla and spiced fruit. The spiciness lingers well into the finish, as does a hint of burnt maple sugar.

The verdict: A bourbon that can (surprisingly) be sipped as easily as it complements a cocktail. My favourite aspects of this bottle were the unannounced whisps of smoke that chased the aforementioned tobacco and burnt sugar. Along with the maltier elements of the bourbon, this spirit features a bold profile that’s still relatively smooth for its price. I’d stir it into an Old Fashioned; however, in sending me this bottle, Wild Turkey suggested the following recipe for a refreshing, mint-infused Manhattan.

The Manhattan 81

1 3/4 ounces Wild Turkey 81 Kentucky Straight Bourbon
1/3 ounce dry vermouth
1/3 ounce sweet vermouth
1 thin slice fresh ginger
3 mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar
1 dash aromatic bitters

Muddle ginger and mint in a cocktail shaker and add powdered sugar and bitters. Add bourbon, vermouth and ice. Shake and strain into a chilled glass.

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