Sample Mountain Week 17: Rare Turkey

Week 17 of Sample Mountain is rare Turkey week featuring a 1996 101, the legendary Russell’s Reserve 2002 and Master’s Keep Revival. I’ve had the Russell’s and Revival before as bar pours at Moonshine but this will be my first taste of ‘96 101.


Wild Turkey 101 1996

Age: NAS

Proof: 101


Nose: Sweet with heavy caramel notes backed by vanilla and faint spice.

Taste: Caramel, salted nuts, faintly perfumey floral notes and hints of spice and oak. Enjoyable but unremarkable mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium length, slightly dry finish with a fading salted caramel and lingering oak.

Buy a bottle? No - dusty Turkey is too crazy

Russell’s Reserve 2002

Age: 15 year

Proof: 114.6


Nose: Caramel, leather, dark cherry and baking spice with subtler vanilla and oak.

Taste: More caramel and leather, more oak and spice than on the nose. Great proof integration bu unremarkable mouthfeel.

Finish: Long, slightly bitter, dry and oaky with some vanilla extract balancing the oak.

Buy a bottle? Anywhere near retail buy, pass at secondary

Wild Turkey Revival

Age: NAS

Proof: 101


Nose: Dark fruit and heavy oak notes dominate. Simple but nice.

Taste: Dark fruit and vanilla give way to bitter oak. Oddly thin mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium to long with lingering dried fruit, baking spice and too much bitter oak.

Buy a bottle? No - glad I passed on this back when it dropped


Honestly I didn’t love any of these samples. The Russell’s 2002 is very good and almost there but the finish just isn’t quite right for me and I was hoping for a little more given the price and scarcity. If I am going to chase down a big Turkey bottle I’d rather go after a SCN bottling or just grab a hyped Russell’s Reserve pick. The ‘96 101 is better than the modern stuff but not by enough to justify the wild markup on dusty Turkey. As for the Revival I tend to enjoy finished bourbon but this one was a miss for me with too much bitterness and not enough classic bourbon notes. Decades still reigns as my favorite Master’s Keep release.


TL;DR: The ‘96 101 and RR2002 were tasty but these are all going to be a pass from me


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