American Spirit — “my love letter to Wild Turkey.”


The story of Wild Turkey is in many ways the story of bourbon itself. From the struggles of nineteenth-century immigrants, to the triumphs of the longest-tenured master distiller in the world, a bold spirit – uniquely American – emerges. I’ve spent the last five years of my life researching exactly what makes this brand so special, and I must admit, you won’t find another whiskey so inherently genuine.

American Spirit: Wild Turkey Bourbon from Ripy to Russell is a tribute to the perseverance of two families, each perfecting their passion through extraordinary circumstances. It’s a testament to Jimmy Russell and his sixty-five years of unmatched dedication to quality. And much like a glass of fine bourbon, it’s a journey – a personal reflection on something carefully crafted over time. This book is my love letter to Wild Turkey.


Author / Blogger

A Taste of the Story

I’m often asked what’s so special about Wild Turkey.  That’s an excellent question and precisely why I started writing this book in the first place.  If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I’d say that Wild Turkey embodies the essence of America.  In fact, I’d argue it’s as distinctively American as bourbon itself.

Bold. Genuine. True. These are the words embossed on many of the brand’s bottles. They not only define the nature of the spirit, but how it was conceived and crafted. From the rigorous struggles of mid-nineteenth-century settlers to the stubborn determination of the longest-tenured master distiller working today, Wild Turkey is in so many ways a product of the American Dream.

Situated on top of Wild Turkey Hill in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky (Tyrone, more specifically), you’ll find “the House that Jimmy Built,” Wild Turkey Distillery. Its grounds aren’t composed of the manicured greenery and scenic walking paths you’ll find at other Bourbon Trail tourist stops. But that’s never been Wild Turkey.  With two exceptions, a modern production facility and an architecturally impressive visitor center (dubbed the “Cathedral to Bourbon”), you’ll observe what’s been there for well over a century: old rickhouses and a picturesque view of the magnificent Kentucky River. And surprisingly often, if you arrive on the right day and time, you’ll find yourself in the presence of a living legend: Master Distiller Jimmy Russell.

Despite what pop culture might have you believe, Wild Turkey is far more than a single whiskey. You hear it in jest all too frequently: “I need a Wild Turkey,” as if there’s only one. While many readers are likely familiar with Wild Turkey’s various expressions, others are not. This chapter will cover the modern core expressions, recent limited editions, and a few rarities often discussed in whiskey enthusiast circles. It’s by no means a complete guide to Wild Turkey releases, but rather an in-depth introduction to what’s out there.  I hope you enjoy my insights and tasting notes as much as I had fun compiling them from my personal journals and blog entries. And for those of you well versed in these expressions, don’t be too quick to skip past this chapter. I’ve included a few particulars that even veteran Wild Turkey fans might not know. So stick around. You might just pick up something new in the pages ahead.


Early Praise

let's talk turkey

Visit RareBird101.com for the latest news, whiskey reviews, and project updates.

Connect with me on these platforms

from Ripy to Russell

Wild Turkey Bourbon