Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof 116.8 Bourbon Review

It is hard to believe, but even though I have tasted just over 600 different whiskeys/bourbons, I have never tasted Rare Breed! I’m finally going to fix that dilemma with a Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof 116.8 Bourbon review. I didn’t know that there was both a filtered and a non-chill filtered version until I starting working on this tasting. I happened to purchase the non-chill filtered version. In the review notes below, Jason from the Mash & Drum did a review of the two versions.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof was first released in 1991 at a proof point of 110 proof. This batch, dated 2024 01/06, is the 14th batch. Some of the batches changed within the same year while other batches span multiple years including the 116.8 proof batch which has been in production from 2016 – present (2024). Batches released between 2001 – 2013 were assigned a specific batch number, but beginning in 2014 batches were defined by their proof. The lowest proof batch was 108.2 proof, and the highest is the current 116.8 proof batch.

Apparently, when they role out a new batch, they often (maybe always?) also change the bottle and label design.

Series: Barrel Proof series
Release: 2024 01/06
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: Blend of 6, 8, and 12 year
Proof: 116.8
Proof Designation: Barrel Proof
Batch Designation: Small Batch
Filtered Status: Non-Chill Filtered
Mash bill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Barrel Char Level: 4
Barrel Entry Proof: 107 – 115 proof
Distillate Source: Wild Turkey
Distillery: Wild Turkey
Company: Campari Group
Bottled By: Wild Turkey
Distilled/Aging Location: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
Master Distiller: Jimmy Russell
Release Date: 2021
MSRP: $50 (2021)
Secondary Market: na
Availability: Available

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof 116.8 Bourbon Review
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof 116.8 Bourbon Review

My tasting reviews are unique in that I include the notes of several well-known whiskey critics. The hope is that this format will help me and others to explore and expand their tasting experience. After you have taken your own tasting notes, read the reviews and see if there is a flavor note that others discerned that now you can detect as well.

Legs

Beads began to form on the crown at about 9 seconds, the legs started to form at about 28 seconds, and it took about 117 seconds for the first legs to reach the bowl. The legs did start as individual legs but then would bleed together to form legs (tears) that were father apart than the original ones.

Nose

Vanilla and caramel hit the nose first along with a hint of butterscotch, some sweet oak, fig and orange peel.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: A lot of toffee and orange. Very typical Turkey profile. Beautiful, sweet oak.

Breaking Bourbon: Scents of caramel and toffee combine with bright orange zest and light citrus. Seasoned oak adds depth and hints towards the older bourbon in the blend, but doesn’t overpower the brighter notes. The strength of the proof is also notable, as the intensity of it makes itself known with a deep inhale.

The Whiskey Shelf: Wild Turkey Rare Breed presents itself with dark, sweet, and oaky scents with a simmering level of heat. It’s a lot of toasted caramel, vanilla, sliced red apple, cinnamon, licorice, and burnt chocolate. There’s also this slightly green grape note to it, maybe from the rye, that adds to the welcome contrasting fruitiness that gives me a gentle apple brandy vibe.

After a few sniffs, more licorice and anise from the rye start to come-out, as well as a hint of honey toasted bread.

With swirling, Rare Breed emits a lot of citrusy caramel and honey with vanilla, burnt wood, baked apples, cinnamon, licorice, and a light dried grassy note. As sugary sweet and roasted as it is, I still can smell that supporting fruitiness that adds balance.

Palate

Caramel, a grape note, spicy oak, vanilla, brown sugar, honey, a dark molasses not, black pepper and baking spices, some fig, and leather. There is some dry oak tannins on the back palate.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: Friggin delicious. Brown sugars, a little bit of tobacco, a lot of spice, heavy cinnamon, a toffee buttery note.

Breaking Bourbon: A sweet and spicy mix of rye spice, maple sugar, caramel, and leather finds intensity immediately. Sweet clementines and a hint of tobacco provide an extra layer of depth, adding a bit of intrigue to an otherwise traditional flavor profile. The resulting combination is a good one, giving way to a nice mix of flavors with more than adequate depth and complexity.

The Whiskey Shelf: Rare Breed’s flavors surge ahead with viscous caramel and vanilla sweetness followed by a ton of cinnamon spice, burnt oak, apple, licorice, and citrus.

There’s a slight savoriness and breadiness there as well. The heat is well tamed, allowing me to enjoy the full flavors without all that heat breathing down my neck.

Chewing” again brings out an intense sweetness of caramel, vanilla, apple, cinnamon, toasted grains, licorice, and a little corn mash. Ripe red apples build on subsequent sips, making this even more enjoyable over time.

The oak underlies all the sweetness, but doesn’t come off as dark, old, and oaky.

Finish

A medium finish with caramel, vanilla, brown sugar, mild baking spices and sweet oak.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Mash & Drum: The finish is long, a lot of black pepper, a little bit of orange peel, some lemon peel, and sweet tobacco.

Breaking Bourbon: Sweet overpowers spice, as caramel and maple sugar candy temper the rye spice to a dull roar as the finish progresses. This is definitively the best part of the sip with additional flavors of leather, tobacco, orange zest, and toffee weave in and out showcasing the layers of flavor offered by this bourbon. A rewarding finale, the finish hits all the right places with great intensity, a complex array of flavors, and most importantly a subtle, yet long-lasting impression.

The Whiskey Shelf: On the finish, I’m first left with sweet honey, green grapes, licorice, cinnamon, and oak tannins that over time turn into apple and citrus peel, licorice, and oak. It actually becomes quite fruity after a minute – a lovely finish even after the first sip.

After “chewing” comes the same sweet and fruity oakiness that this time transforms more into a rye whiskey with anise, licorice, honey, green grapes, and oak. That shift to rye whiskey is an interesting, but fun, twist.

After all of that, all I can really say is that Wild Turkey Rare Breed is a very flavorful and interesting bourbon that excels with what it has, although I wouldn’t call it overly complex, layered, or unique. It just tastes really really good.

Mouthfeel

(Thin – Watery | Silken – smooth & slippery, but not mouth coating | Creamy – coats the tongue like heavy cream does. | Rich or Unctuous – coats the entire palate like olive oil)

The mouthfeel is silken but not creamy, rich or unctuous.

The Burn

4 out of 5. This means that the burn from the alcohol is a bit lower (5% to 9%) than what I would expect it to be. I would guess this to be around 110 proof, not 116.8 proof.

Tasting Summary

Sweet caramel and vanilla hit the palate first, then mild baking spices and black pepper along with some drying sweet oak on the back palate. Secondary flavors include orange peel, brown sugar, honey, a grape note, and leather.

My Rating

The higher the score the better the whiskey is in my opinion. For reference, my best rated bottle so far is the George T. Stagg 2022 (138.7p) with a score of 9.7.

Score TypeScoreExamples
Likability Score7.51.0 – 10.0
Availability Score41-Rare, 2-Hard to Find, 3-A Little Hunting, 4-Easy to Find
My Tasting Notes

A blank version of this tasting notes wheel is available in both a color and a black & white version in the member’s area.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof 116.8 Bourbon Tasting Notes

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July 9, 2024

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