Wild Turkey (bourbon)
Wild Turkey 101
|Country of origin||Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, USA|
|Proof||80, 81, 86.8, 101, 108.2|
|Variants||Wild Turkey 101
Wild Turkey 81
Wild Turkey Rye
Wild Turkey Rare Breed
Russell's Reserve 6, 10
Russell's Reserve Single Barrel
Wild Turkey 86.8
Wild Turkey 8, 12
Wild Turkey is a brand of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey distilled and bottled by the Austin Nichols division of Campari Group. The distillery is located near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. It offers tours, and is part of the American Whiskey Trail and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
The Ripy brothers built a distillery in Tyrone, Kentucky near Lawrenceburg in 1869, had consolidated the current facility by 1905 and resumed distilling after Prohibition. The Ripys were bought out in 1952 by the Gould Brothers. In turn the distillery was bought by Pernod Ricard in 1980. On April 8, 2009, the Campari Group announced the acquisition of the brand and of the distillery from Pernod Ricard.
Distillery executive Thomas McCarthy took some warehouse samples on a wild turkey hunting trip in 1940. The next year his friends asked him for "some of that wild turkey whiskey", and a brand was born. The 80 proof version was introduced in 1974.
The Wild Turkey label carries a vividly printed, seemingly engraved illustration of its namesake. In the USA, five varieties of the bourbon are generally available: 81 proof (formerly 80 proof), 101 proof, Kentucky Spirit, Russell's Reserve, and Rare Breed.
Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit is a single barrel version at 101 proof; Russell's Reserve, a 10 year old named for master distiller Jimmy Russell, is 90 proof; and the Rare Breed is a blend of 6, 8, and 12-year-old stocks at 108.4 proof.
Wild Turkey 101 earned an 'Editor's Choice' award from Whisky Magazine.
The Wild Turkey brand has also been extended to a rye whiskey, made from a mash of roughly 65% rye, 23% corn and 12% barley, and to a honey liqueur, called American Honey. International spirit ratings organizations have consistently given favorable reviews to the Wild Turkey 101 Single Barrel. Proof66.com, aggregator of reviews from various "expert" bodies, places the 101 Single Barrel in the 97th percentile of all rated bourbons.
Kentucky River fish kill
On May 9, 2000, a seven-story warehouse in Anderson County, Kentucky was destroyed in a fire, spilling the contents of thousands of gallons of the company's whiskey aging barrels into the Kentucky River. The alcohol spills killed hundreds of thousands of fish along a 66 mile stretch of the river. The company paid $256,000 to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife in an effort to restore the fish population in the river.
"Give 'em the Bird" promotional campaign
In 2011, an advertisement video called "Give 'em the Bird" was featured on the product's web site, Facebook page, and YouTube page that prominently included a middle finger gesture and referred to other (non-existing) advertising videos featuring a nun and an adult blow-up doll. Other brand promotional activities of the company also centered around the "Give 'em the Bird" slogan and gesture. In August 2011, the review board of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), of which Campari USA is a member, ruled that the advertisement violated the council's code of ethical practices and said that "the gesture is indecent and the advertisement fails to meet contemporary standards of good taste". According to DISCUS, the company disagreed with the board's interpretation but agreed to withdraw the advertisement.
Since then, the company has continued to use the "Give 'em the Bird" slogan and middle finger gesturing in additional advertising and promotional activities. In November, 2012, Jimmy Russell, the Wild Turkey Master Distiller, publicly called for U.S. President Barack Obama to "Give us the bird" in reference to the fate of the White House Thanksgiving Day turkey.
In popular culture
Although in recent years Wild Turkey has gained a more sophisticated reputation, its prior reputation for being an inexpensive, highly-alcoholic product had the bourbon showing up in popular culture often, usually to suggest a rough, macho persona; a person who has fallen on hard times; or even a person with "white trash" traits.
Wild Turkey is known for being a favorite drink of journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and is mentioned in his 1972 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (as well as the film of the same name), and the 1973 book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. In Stephen King's book It, when asked what the bar whiskey is, the bartender replies, "For everyone else in this dump it's Four Roses, but for you I think it's Wild Turkey." David Foster Wallace's seminal novel Infinite Jest has James Incandenza as an alcoholic filmmaker and tennis academy head who drinks Wild Turkey, as well as being referenced as Wallace's drink of choice in his biography, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story. In Scott Sigler’s science fiction book Infected, main character Perry Dawsey is described several times as drinking Wild Turkey. In Patrick Neate's 2004 book "City of Tiny Lights" the private investigator anti-hero and narrator of the tale, Tommy Akhtar, subsists on a diet of mostly Wild Turkey and Benson and Hedges cigarettes, referring to them as "Benny and the Turk". In Adrian Edmondson's 1995 novel "The Gobbler", the hard-drinking central protagonist, Julian Mann, has a penchant for Wild Turkey, particularly in combination with pints of lager.
The bourbon is the drink of choice for adult male leads in Rambo: First Blood Part II and The Cassandra Crossing (which are both directed by George Pan Cosmatos), Rush, In the Heat of the Night (film), Silver Bullet, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bad Lieutenant, The Eiger Sanction, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Punisher, Where the Buffalo Roam, and The Guardian. It is also referenced in numerous films, including The Color of Money, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, With Honors, Thelma & Louise, Death Proof, Monster's Ball, Freddy Got Fingered, Out Cold, Crazy Heart, Cookie's Fortune, Frankenhooker, and Trees Lounge.
NCIS and Justified routinely shows characters with a bottle of the product, and on occasion television shows have made references to it, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer (episode "Beer Bad"), The Sopranos (season 3, episode 10), Seinfeld (season 7, episode "The Hot Tub", also season 5's episode "The Dinner Party" shows George holding a bottle), Trigun, True Blood (season 3, episode "Beautifully Broken"), "Frasier" (season 2, episode "Roz in the Doghouse"), "A Very Peculiar Practice" (season 2, episode "May the Force Be with You"), and Will & Grace (season 7), and "Married... with Children" (season 8, episode "Nooner or Nothing"). On the season 2 episode  of Parks and Recreation Ron Swanson mentions his old man used to put Wild Turkey on his Cornflakes while explaining his family have a preternaturally high tolerance for alcohol.
Wild Turkey is mentioned in the lyrics of the song "Sober" by Muse; in Ray Wylie Hubbard's 1973 hit (with Jerry Jeff Walker and others) "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother", ZZ Top’s "Arrested For Driving While Blind", Danny Barker's version of "St. James Infirmary Blues", the Cowboy Junkies' "Where Are You Tonight?", Justin Moore's song "Run Out of Honky Tonks", and the Dogs D'Amour song "Princess Valium". The George Thorogood classic One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer also mentions "A Lil Old Wild Turkey".
- Cleary, Andrew; Sara Gay Forden (2009-04-09). "Campari Buys Pernod’s Wild Turkey for $575 Million". Bloomberg. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Austin, Nichols. "Wild Turkey History". Retrieved 2007-09-22.
- "Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon Review", Cocktail Enthusiast, June 24, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- Whisky magazine. "Wild Turkey 101". Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- "Wild Turkey 101 Page on Proof66.com". Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- John Whitehead. "Environmental Economics: Costs of the Black River fish kill". Retrieved August 16, 2005.
- Wild Turkey Bourbon Advertisement, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) web site
- "Give 'em the Bird", Bourbonblog, August 23, 2011.
- Member Companies, DISCUS official web site.
- Recent Code Review Board Decisions, DISCUS web site.
- Schriener, Bruce, Wild Turkey takes 'Give 'em the bird' pitch to TV, Associated Press, May 1, 2012
- Sanina, Anna, "Give 'em the Bird" Says Wild Turkey, Popsop Brand Magazine, May 3, 2012.
- Wild Turkey Distiller Asks Obama to Give Kentucky the Bird, Hispanic Business, November 19, 2012.
- Beverage Dynamics Magazine "Born in the USA" by Robert Plotkin September/October 2004 issue
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wild Turkey (bourbon).|
- Wild Turkey Bourbon
- Wild Turkey Bourbon Australian Website
- Background & Review of Wild Turkey 101 @ Bourbon Central
- BoozeBasher review of Wild Turkey Rare Breed Archived September 28, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- The Whisky Portal
- Proof66.com Awards Summary Page for Wild Turkey 101