Wild Turkey’s Rare Breed came to me recommended by the good folks at LeNell’s down in Red Hook. I told them that I was looking for something more in the vein of Knob Creek and Booker’s than Four Roses Small Batch or Old Grand-Dad, something with more depth. After reviewing a few options, I settled on Rare Breed since I’ve yet to write about a Wild Turkey product on the blog.
I’m particularly looking forward to tasting how the barrel-strength nature of WTRB influences its character. The fact that this barrel proof expression is a mere 108.2 proof speaks to the low proof distillation.
Rare Breed comes in a short, wide bottle with a short neck, one that is quite different from the rest of the bottles in my collection. The shape manages to communicate the idea that this is a premium product, yet it does so in an understated manner, without Booker’s heavily waxed wine bottle, or Four Roses Small Batch’s inward-sloping cut.
The labeling and text are rather simple, they highlight the fact that Rare Breed is barrel proof but little more. The small pamphlet that comes attached to the bottle invites the buyer to join the “Rare Breed Society” which, while clearly a direct marketing pitch, still manages to be somewhat effective in convincing the buyer that he is somehow distinguished in his purchase.
To the nose, WTRB at first gives an impression of rubbing alcohol, but after backing up a bit notes of hay, corn, red berries, and toffee develop. One of the more impressive characteristics is the color which is a rich reddish-amber, perhaps this is a result of not having to cut it with water, but whatever the reason this is a fine-looking bourbon.
On the palate, the red berry sensation reappears right off the bat, followed by a familiar corn and caramel body, finally there is strong note of black peppercorn. The finish is very clean and the drink itself quite smooth, which was a bit of a surprise.
I was expecting something intense and raw, yet I found a drink of interesting flavors, but managed to remain quite smooth. There wasn’t the depth I was hoping for either, especially from a barrel proof expression. WTRB is a quite good bourbon, with a good balance of character and smoothness, but don’t reach for it expecting something to ponder over for a while. I’d say this is a drink best suited for cold winter nights.