Review: Wild Turkey Rye 81 Proof

Review: Wild Turkey Rye 81 Proof

Following on the release of its lower-proof Wild Turkey 81 Proof Bourbon, Wild Turkey is at it again, releasing a new Wild Turkey Rye at 81 proof. Wild Turkey makes a 101 proof Rye at present, but this is not widely available and in fact I’ve never tried it. In fact WT says that a recent run on rye has left WT Rye 101 largely out of stock. However, you will find the distillery’s Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Rye far more commonly available.

This rye comes in at a relatively youthful 4 to 5 years old (though WT calls this “extra-aged”), and it’s aged in deep “alligator” char barrels. The exact mashbill is not disclosed, but I would wager this is not much over the 50% mark in rye, with corn making up the rest.

Much like Russell’s Reserve Rye, this is a sweet and not overly “spicy” rendition of the grain. With that characteristic Wild Turkey apple and cherry character, with lots of vanilla on the finish along with that woody, charcoal character you’d expect from a whisky aged in heavy-char barrels like this. Plenty of cinnamon throughout the body, the only real hint that you’re in the rye world here.

Tasted blind, I would bet that most tasters would peg this as a young Bourbon, and that’s not intended as a slight. This is a mild and smooth whiskey that would be just dandy in a Manhattan — but maybe not man enough for a Sazerac.

81 proof.

B / $23 /

Wild Turkey Rye 81 Proof




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. eric g on May 28, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    there’s a run on rye?!

  2. Justin on May 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

    The 101 version of the rye is quite good. I haven’t tried the 81, but based on your tasting notes it sounds like the 101 is more “rye-like.”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.