HISTORY
AND HERITAGE

How we do, what we do — and where we do it — are equally important when it comes to making bourbon the right way.

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OUR MASTER DISTILLERS

JIMMY RUSSELL

Some call him, “the Buddha of Bourbon.” He calls himself, “Plain old Jimmy from Kentucky.” Everyone calls him the longest-tenured active Master Distiller in the world.

READ JIMMY’S BIO

EDDIE RUSSELL

Only bold vision can fill big shoes. Son of Master Distiller Jimmy, Eddie rose to the ranks just like his father, joining him as a Master Distiller in 2015.

READ EDDIE’S BIO

WILD TURKEY CREATIVE DIRECTOR

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY

It’s one thing to be the celebrity spokesperson of a brand. But when you’re truly inspired, you’ll roll up your sleeves and become a creative driving force for it.

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OUR HISTORY

A rich past ushers in a bold future. Discover the history of our bourbon.

1855-1940

THE BIRTH OF WILD TURKEY

Heritage

1855

Wholesale grocer Austin Nichols begins selling wine and spirits. The business would later go on to own and sell Wild Turkey.

1869

The Ripy brothers open their family distillery on Wild Turkey Hill in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

1893

The Ripy Brothers’ bourbon represents Kentucky at the World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois.

1940

Wild Turkey Bourbon gets its name after a distillery executive shares his bourbon with friends on an annual hunting trip — of course, they were after wild turkey.

1954-1995

THE RUSSELL EFFECT

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1954

Master Distiller Jimmy Russell joins Wild Turkey. He learns his craft from becomes the third in a line of master distillers for the brand which includes second master distiller, Bill Hughes, and Ernest W. Ripy, son of the original distiller.

1976

Wild Turkey introduces the world’s first bourbon liqueur, introducing a broader audience and attracting even more drinkers to the bourbon world. The liqueur would eventually lead to the creation of American Honey.

1981

Eddie Russell, son of Jimmy Russell, joins Wild Turkey as a relief operator and begins to work his way up the distillery ladder.

1991

Wild Turkey introduces our premium Rare Breed bourbon, one of the first barrel proof bourbons to hit the market.

1995

Wild Turkey follows it up with the launch of Kentucky Spirit, a single-barrel 101-proof bourbon, one of the only single barrel American whiskey offerings of the time.

2000 – TODAY

THE NEW VISION

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2000

Master Distiller Jimmy Russell is inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

2004

Jimmy Russell celebrates his 50th year at the Wild Turkey distillery.

2010

Eddie Russell is inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame by his father, Jimmy Russell.

2015

Eddie Russell is officially given the title of Master Distiller, then making Jimmy and Eddie the only active father and son duo of bourbon Master Distillers in the world.

2016

Famed actor and bourbon enthusiast Matthew McConaughey joins Wild Turkey as Creative Director.

2018

Wild Turkey introduces Longbranch, a small-batch bourbon refined with Texas Mesquite and American Oak charcoals, and the first co-creation from Master Distiller Eddie Russell and Creative Director Matthew McConaughey.

2020

Wild Turkey introduces Rare Breed Rye, our premium quality, masterfully crafted barrel proof rye.

CRAFTING AN AMERICAN ICON

From our rich distilling traditions to the art of a barrel aging, making Wild Turkey isn’t easy. But if we did it any other way, it just wouldn’t be Wild Turkey. Learn about what goes in to producing an American icon.

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