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HOW WE MAKE OUR WILD TURKEY BOURBON WHISKEY

How we do, what we do — and where we do it — are equally important when it comes to making bourbon. Our master distillers have over a century of experience making Kentucky Straight Bourbon the right way, The Wild Turkey way.

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Craft

OUR DISTILLERY

For over 75 years, we’ve been making our whiskey at the top of Wild Turkey Hill in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. It’s where spirited tradition and devotion to our craft come together to yield an unparalleled lineup of bourbon and rye.

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OUR WILD TURKEY ESSENTIALS

WATER

Our water comes from the Kentucky River and is naturally filtered through limestone, removing iron and other impurities

YEAST

We’re still using our original yeast strain – proprietary to Wild Turkey – which has informed our bourbon’s signature flavor for over 60 years.

NON-GMO GRAINS

Wild Turkey is one of the few distilleries to have never used a genetically modified grain in our bourbon.

BARRELS

Not everyone makes a big deal about char level – the intensity of burn inside American White Oak barrels used to age bourbon. But only a No. 4 “alligator” char, the deepest available, can produce our bourbon’s signature amber color and bold flavor. Others might be content with a No. 1, 2 or 3 char; but it’s something we can never compromise on. We use our No. 4 char across all of our bourbons and ryes, giving each one our distinctive Wild Turkey flavor.

TIME

We never pour a drop of Wild Turkey until it’s aged at least five years – often six or eight or more. Of course, we legally would only have to age it two years to call it a straight topshelf bourbon whiskey, but we’re not big fans of doing the minimum. Even our tin-clad, wooden rick houses where we store our barrels have stood the test of time; they allow maximum interaction between wood and bourbon, and they’ve been doing it since the 1890s. When we put “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” on our label, it’s because our bourbon earned it.

OUR BOURBON MAKING PROCESS

Bourbon takes time, and with almost a century of combined experience, our Master Distillers know that better than anyone.

HANDLING AND MILLING

It starts when the Master Distiller selects the corn, rye and malted barley for distilling. We use only the best ingredients at the Wild Turkey Distillery – nothing but our specially grown, non-GMO grains, which are quality tested at four separate times.

MASHING
AND MALTING

They say location is everything, and Wild Turkey distillery proudly sits atop a limestone shelf situation along the Kentucky River, allowing us to use quality Kentucky water straight from the source. The limestone naturally purifies the water of iron, and this non-acidic, limestone-filtered water is used to cook the grains during this stage, making for a better depth of flavor in our finished product. Once the malted barley is added, we introduce our sour mash – a previously fermented mash that still contains live yeast – to start a new fermentation process.

FERMENTING

Yeast is added to the corn, rye and malted barley to create our yeast mash, naturally turning the starch into sugar, and giving Wild Turkey its full, rich flavor. Our yeast strain is unique to Wild Turkey, and a secret that is closely guarded by Master Distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell.

DISTILLING

The liquid mash is pumped into a continuous still. It’s vaporized at a high temperature, turned back into liquid, and distilled all over again, creating the highest quality spirit without sacrificing flavor.

BARREL FILLING

After distillation, the spirit is poured into new American White Oak barrels with the deepest No. 4 “alligator” char. We choose to barrel our bourbon at a lower proof, so that by the time it’s finished aging we can add less water than other whiskey makers typically would in order to avoid diluting our bourbon’s signature flavor before bottling. That allows Wild Turkey to retain the true, rich flavor and deep auburn color it acquires from the barrel.

BARREL AGING

Once the barrels are filled, they’re stored for aging. Starting at two years, we taste our bourbon annually until its fully matured. We age our whiskey longer than most distilleries, giving it more of the time it needs to develop its distinctive, rich flavor.

BOTTLING

Only the master distiller can decide when a barrel is mature enough for bottling. On their command, the bourbon is dumped, filtered and bottled, ready for you to enjoy.

TASTING NOTES

For a complete start to finish Wild Turkey tasting experience, it comes down to these four qualities.

COLOR

Bourbon’s color tells you a lot about its age. You’ll notice Wild Turkey has a deep auburn color because it’s aged longer in barrels with the deepest char.

AROMA

Breathe in the bourbon. And then add a drop of water to release more flavor notes and breathe it in again. You’ll smell undertones of deep vanilla and oak, with traces of citrus and toffee on top. As Jimmy Russell will tell you: you can smell more flavor than you’ll ever taste.

TASTE

Take a sip and breathe it in. You’ll notice that Wild Turkey 101 is rich with vanilla and caramel, with notes of toffee and light smoke.

FINISH

A great bourbon lingers on the tongue. Wild Turkey is known for its long, full-bodied finish.

THERE’S MORE TO DISCOVER

Our family of topshelf whiskies from our family of master distillers.

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