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Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon Whiskey Review

by Jim Casey
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon Whiskey Review
photo by Outsider

If you grew up in a whiskey-drinking household, there’s a good chance a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 was the big tom on the shelf. But since 1991, Wild Turkey has also been releasing its cask strength expression, Rare Breed, a blend of 6-, 8-, and 12-year-old bourbons bottled at 116.8 proof (since 2017). Along with Jim Beam’s Booker’s Bourbon in 1987, Rare Breed has been one of the torchbearers of barrel-proof bourbon.

Let’s get sipping to see if Rare Breed is the boss tom.

At a Glance

  • Distillery: Wild Turkey Distilling Co.
  • Location: Lawrenceburg, KY
  • Style: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Proof: 116.8
  • Mashbill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley
  • MSRP: $50
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(photo by Outsider)

Wild Turkey Rare Breed: What We Say

Noselight alcohol, fruit cobbler, lemon-mint cough drop
Palatecinnamon, oak, buttered toast, custard, mulling spice, tamarind
Finishlingering heat, snickerdoodle, spicy cider, caramel
What You Can Expect to Pay$50-$65
Buy It: Now, Soon, Later, NeverSoon
Outsider Rating86/100

Very light alcohol welcomes the nose with baked fruit cobbler—notably apple and peach. A deeper nosedive immediately brings to mind a Lemon-Mint Ricola cough drop, both sweet and herbal. Really pleasant. The first sip reveals notes of hot candied cinnamon and pleasant oak, followed by honey-buttered toast (with just a hint of char) and warm, creamy custard.

A bit of chewing unleashes mulling spices (clove, nutmeg) with a touch of tamarind (lemony caramel). The medium-long finish lingers with more cinnamon—like a baked snickerdoodle cookie—and then it really leans into the cider spices with caramel. A nice yin and yang of heat and sweet. The addition of an ice cube mitigates the heat just a tad, while cajoling out more of the sweet cider notes. For a barrel-proof bourbon, it’s deliciously sippable.

(photo by Outsider)

Recommended Sip

Neat is the way to go, unless the heat is a bit too much for you. The addition of an ice cube subdues the heat a touch, but I enjoy the lingering finish on this creamy 116.8-proof pour. With the Ricola on the nose and the mulling spice/tamarind on the palate, I also think this bottle would make a helluva high-proof Hot Toddy.

What Wild Turkey Says

The bold spirit of Wild Turkey is faithfully represented in every drop of this authentic barrel proof whiskey—the original “small batch” barrel proof bourbon. A blend of our finest selection of 6-, 8-, and 12-year bourbon, no water is added before bottling, for a curated sipping experience like drinking straight from the cask. The intense vanilla and exceptional mouthfeel have made this expression a legend in its own right—best enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

If You Like Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Try

(photo by Outsider)
  • 1792 Full Proof
  • Distillery: Barton 1792
  • Location: Bardstown, KY
  • Style: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Proof: 125
  • MSRP: $50

1792 Full Proof is in the same price range as Rare Breed but packs a little bit more of a proof punch at 125. The smoky heat is in your face from the first sip, but the bold-tasting bourbon counters with sweet hints of toffee, vanilla pudding, and dark fruit.