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Wild Turkey Rare Breed

Bourbon bottle filled with carmel colored liquid with a a large turkey on the label.

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Wild Turkey Rare Breed


About Wild Turkey Rare Breed

While I looked around the internet for new bourbons, I noticed different distilleries would have a barrel proof option. The marketing successfully gave me the impression these bottles were special and I was immediately curious. Wild Turkey Rare Breed was one of the names I saw most often. 

Wild Turkey is produced by Wild Turkey distilling company in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. They have been producing whiskey for decades and have grown into one of the biggest names in bourbon. They began when The Ripy brothers started distilling bourbon in the late 1800’s and would sell their whiskey to a wholesale grocer named Austin Nichols throughout the first few decades of the 1900’s. In 1940, an executive at Nichols company brought some of the bourbon on a wild turkey hunting trip. Everyone enjoyed the whiskey so much that the name “Wild Turkey” stuck when the company eventually bought out the Ripy brothers.

I have tried some of the other Wild Turkey bourbons in the past but this is my first time with a barrel proof whiskey. The Whiskey Advocate has an in-depth article on the process of bottling a barrel proof whiskey and some reasons for why this could be preferable. 

Whiskey is usually watered down to about 40% before bottling and this can drastically change the flavor. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but a barrel proof spirit will let the consumer have control over the proof and taste.

Bottle Specs

❖ Spirit: Bourbon Whiskey

Distillery:  Wild Turkey Distilling Co. 

❖ ABV: 58.4% (116.8 Proof)

❖ Moderate Price

Tasting Notes

My Tasting Notes


Color: honey, caramel

❖ Nose:  brown sugar, heavy vanilla and caramel

Taste: There is a big explosion of spice, oak and slight mint at the very beginning that soon leads sweeter notes. vanilla and caramel, spicy cinnamon.

Finish: long, oak, caramel and vanilla. after a really long time I still had a slightly sweet mint taste in my mouth

Carmel colored liquid in a glencairn glass with a bottle in the background

Additional Tasting Notes

Tasting Notes from Wild Turkey

The website didn’t provide in-depth tasting notes but the do say:”…tones of sweet tobacco and hints of orange and mint…”

Tasting Notes with Ice

I get some slight candy sweetness but the dominant flavors are spearmint and oak. The mint lingers on the finish

Tasting Notes with room temp water

I added enough water to remove most of the alcohol heat and the oak and was left with caramel and honey notes with mint and citrus peel on the finish.


yellow liquid with ice in a old fashion glass with a lemon garnish and green glass straw with a whiskey bottle in the background

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Rare Breed Sour


1.5 oz lemon

1 oz simple syrup

1.5 oz Wild Turkey Rare Breed

❖ Add lemon, simple syrup and whiskey into a shaking tin

❖ Shake until chilled, about 10-15 seconds

❖ Strain into an old fashion glass filled with ice and garnish with a lemon

I’m not sure I completely recommend using Wild Turkey Rare Breed in a cocktail but this modification of a whiskey sour still works pretty well. The whiskey is by far the loudest ingredient so it’s not the most balanced cocktail but it doesn’t completely overpower the other ingredients.

Vanilla and caramel are the strongest flavors but there’s still some faint oak and lemon. I don’t get any of the alcohol burn from the whiskey but a candy coating in my mouth. The lemon and vanilla linger for a long time on the finish. Overall it is a more pleasant experience than I was expecting but it’s too strong for me to have more than one in a sitting.

Bottom Line


I mostly enjoy Wild Turkey Rare Breed and recommend it for anyone who wants to explore barrel proof bourbon. There wasn’t nearly as much alcohol burn as I was expecting so I could enjoy all the traditional bourbon flavors. And Rare Breed is widely available and relatively affordable compared to other barrel proof bourbons. I can find it at liquor stores in my area for about $42.

However, I do still have some nitpicks with Wild Turkey Rare Breed that stop me from giving it more than a 3 star rating. It might be unfair since I think Wild Turkey is going for a traditional bourbon flavor but I was hoping for a bit more complexity since it’s not watered down. And while the flavor does change when ice or water is added, I never really found something I liked more than the original. 

Usually when I have issues with the the flavor of a spirit I can still use it in as a cocktail mixer. And while the flavor of Rare Breed worked pretty well in the sour, the proof was too high for me. I couldn’t drink more than one in a sitting and haven’t recently been craving another one.

But despite these issues, I would still recommend Wild Turkey Rare Breed as an entry into barrel proof bourbon. I’m looking to trying more barrel proof whiskies and more Wild Turkey spirits.

As always, drink responsibly.

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