FROM RIPY TO RUSSELL
BY DAVID JENNINGS
American Spirit — “my love letter to Wild Turkey.”
Author / Blogger
A Taste of the Story
ON THE HOUSE
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.
"[...] Bourbon superfan David Jennings tells us how Wild Turkey flew into this flock, dominated the biker bar persona and stood on the shoulders of the great Jimmy Russell. If you’re a bourbon fan, you must learn the true story of Wild Turkey and not the one created in a marketing spin room."
"Wild Turkey and its iconic master distiller, Jimmy Russell, have flown under the hype radar. But not for true bourbon enthusiasts. And certainly not for new author David Jennings, who weaves together history with legend, transition with tradition, and family with globality into an unexpected love story."
"Few products are as quintessentially American as bourbon, and few brands are as classic as Wild Turkey. David Jennings has captured everything that’s special about this legacy in a book that’s as much fun as it is informative."