Wild Turkey Master Distiller Eddie Russell has a hard job. His father, Jimmy, made Wild Turkey into what you know today: simple, refined, bold, and a staple of any American whiskey collection. Though many might know Wild Turkey as the maker of the ubiquitous and simple Wild Turkey 101, Eddie has, since becoming Master Distiller, done a lot of innovating, culminating this year with Master’s Keep Revival.
Eddie has been captaining the Master’s Keep series (a total now of three limited-edition whiskeys) through all three iterations. We were blown away by the first one: a numerically labeled 17-year-old release “found” in partner warehouses. It was tangy and syrupy with tannins and oak character—the perfect sipping bourbon, at least that year. Decades came in 2017. It was a blend of 10- and 20-year-old whiskeys that found a perfect balance of vibrancy and age, and while it wasn’t our favorite in the series, it garnered plenty of praise.
Revival is something different, though. It’s inspired by Wild Turkey Sherry Signature, a long-ago limited release from the early 2000s that contained 10-year-old sherry-infused, sherry-barreled bourbon.
Eddie himself tracked down several rare barrels that had held sherry for 20 years, brought them back, and filled them with a blend of Wild Turkey bourbons aged 12-15 years. It was a genius move. Most sherry barrels hold sherry for just a couple of years or so, but older barrels have a lot of the wood’s flavor depleted, which meant the whiskey predominantly picked up the character of the sherry instead. The resulting sherry-finished bourbon (it’s no longer legally bourbon after touching the second cask, but finished bourbon is the most apt description) is a delicious medium between sherry and new oak.
The nose is nutty and spicy—a perfect balance of that earthy, high-rye Wild Turkey character with an infusion of old sherry notes. Think bourbon cherry pie, with a ton of cinnamon and nutmeg. It tastes even better: the sherry doesn’t make a ton of impact on its own, but rather enhances characteristic bourbon flavors: red fruit and baking spices on top of the vanilla, dried orange peel on top of honey, and a long finish of dried fruits, creme brulee, and cinnamon.
It’s perfectly dry, perfectly rounded, and touching it with anything but a few drops of water should be punishable by imprisonment within the Commonwealth of Kentucky by the end of the month.
Master’s Keep Revival might not be for everyone, but it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser, and at this point, it’s the third Master’s Keep bottle of three to not disappoint. The bottom line: The collection is strong.
Revival is currently on shelves at a suggested retail price of $150, but keep in mind that only 1,600 cases were produced. We tend to see Master’s Keep releases on shelves for months after they’re released. The only reason to hurry out and get a bottle? Because it’s so damn good.