In Kentucky, every whiskey distillery you visit is unique. Some are modern and sleek, and others seem to be held together by duct tape and rubber bands. Many are a combination of the two. As bourbon has boomed over the past decade, many distilleries have modernized their infrastructure in order to ramp up production. Nowhere is this more evident than at Wild Turkey Distillery in Tyrone, Kentucky.
Though the Wild Turkey Distillery is over 75 years old, much of the facility is nearly new. The difference between the distilling operation here and nearby Buffalo Trace is striking- everything down to the distillery building is new at Wild Turkey. The bottling line is brand new and state-of-the-art. The Visitor’s Center has been open just over a year. The only signs of age are out in the decades-old rick houses- not much has changed in the aging process over the years, so there’s really no need for improvement, just for more space.
The Visitor’s Center at Wild Turkey overlooks The Kentucky River. Many iconic pictures of Jimmy Russell have been taken inside on the walkway to the tasting room. Though so much of the operation is brand new, everything seems to fit right there atop the bluff with a stunning view of the rolling hills of Kentucky.
“The Kickin Chicken” only came in 81 and 101 proof (formerly 80 and 100) for the longest time, and Wild Turkey American Honey was the only other offering until they began entering the premium market with offerings such as Russell’s Reserve and Rare Breed. Now the portfolio has grown to include Forgiven, Diamond Anniversary, and Master’s Keep, as well as two rye whiskey offerings.
Tours are available Monday-Saturday from 9-5 as well as seasonally on Sundays. Tours leave the Visitor’s Center on the hour. Tour prices start at $10 per person and are free for Active Duty Military with ID. As for all bourbon distillery tours it’s best to call ahead to be sure the distillery isn’t shut down for special events, weather, or distillery business. Don’t forget to get your Kentucky Bourbon Trail passport stamped!
One night during Derby week, I was working in the liquor store while Four Roses Master Distiller Jim Rutledge was doing a tasting. I kept trying to make my way over to talk to him, but we were super busy (did I mention it was Derby week?) and I didn't...