Twelve years ago (though I thought it was in 2013, 9 years back), Wild Turkey put out a whiskey that was pretty groundbreaking at the time, blending bourbon and rye and claiming it was all the result of a happy mistake. Forgiven has never been my favorite whiskey, but it did spur a whole lot of people to follow suit, to the point where bourbon and rye blends are actually fairly common nowadays.
Fast forward to 2022, and the Russell boys are back at it with a follow-up: Unforgotten, “a high proof, extra-aged variation of the harmonious blend of straight bourbon and rye whiskeys.” (There’s no detail on the extra-ness of the aging here, except that while Forgiven is made with young rye, the Unforgotten blend includes “some of the oldest rye ever released by Wild Turkey” — and the proof has been bumped up from 91 to 105.) The blended whiskey also undergoes secondary aging in rye barrels, undertaken in Wild Turkey’s pre-Prohibition Rickhouse B.
We got the bottle. Now we’re going to see whether or not we should have forgiven and forgotten the original experiment after all.
Up front I have to say I really like this whiskey. The nose is gently woody and sweet, evoking brown sugar and gingerbread, complete with layers of allspice and nutmeg. It’s well-balanced and feels less aggressive than rye, yet not at all overwhelming with barrel notes. In the line between maturity and freshness, Unforgotten is deftly balanced.
The palate is rather sweeter than expectations driven by the nose would indicate, though classic rye spice quickly rears its head. I would wager there’s more rye in this than the 22% that makes up Forgiven, those gingerbread notes popping with flecks of red pepper, then creamy butterscotch candies, Bit-O-Honey, and caramel apples. Silky and chocolaty on the finish, it’s extremely easy to forget this is 52.5% alcohol, as the candylike elements take you into a bit of a blissed-out dessert coma. Don’t get me wrong — there are hints of peanut, some barrel char, and a vague bit of leather in the mix, but they’re all well tempered — and for the better.
Those expecting some of Wild Turkey’s big bruisers will leave Unforgotten disappointed, but I am really loving it from start to finish.
OK guys, you win. All is indeed forgiven. And remembered.
A / $200 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]