Whiskey Review: Wild Turkey Master's Keep Revival - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival

Wild Turkey is one of the big dogs in the bourbon world, thanks mostly to their long time standard for quality and tradition. Originally started as long ago as 1869, the distillery that operated for more than a century in one capacity or another was built in 1891. During World War II it was even repurposed to help the war effort. Campari somewhat recently acquired Wild Turkey and the new facilities they built have some serious whiskey making capabilities. When I had the privilege of visiting last year I was told the new mash system is able to produce up to 40 barrels a mash, with around 12 mashes a day. That’s 480 barrels a day!

Unlike some of the experimental heavy Kentucky whiskey makers, Wild Turkey brands themselves mostly as traditional. They’ve been making whiskey the same way for more than a hundred years, so why fix what’s not broken? Well, new ideas and bottlings have slowly been coming from Eddie Russell who heads the operations after taking over from his father, Jimmy. They’re aware of market trends, and how to keep their product exciting in the eyes of the whiskey connoisseur. This leads us to the Master’s Keep series.

Revival is the third release within the Master’s Keep series and it features a concept that Jimmy Russell actually bottled first! The namesake is a tribute to bringing back a whiskey that was a bit ahead of its times. The Wild Turkey Sherry Signature was done by Jimmy in the early 2000’s and is the precursor to Revival. For a truly exciting tasting experience, I recommend finding a bottle and trying them side-by-side.

For Revival, Eddie selected the Oloroso sherry barrels himself, insisting on ones that had held sherry for around 20 years. This whiskey is the traditional Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon, aged for 12-15 years, and then finished in the sherry casks. The goal was to essentially recreate Jimmy’s dream from more than a decade ago, and to hit on the popularity of cask finishing in today’s market.

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival 

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival  (image via Cameron Holck/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Revival 

Vital Stats: 101 Proof, 12-15 year, finished in Oloroso sherry casks, $149.99 for 750ml.

Appearance: Dark cherry.

Nose: The initial smell is that of the distinctive Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon. Comforting and warm, a kind reminder to the family behind the whiskey. A bit of heat brings in tobacco leaves and raisins. Nuts, caramel, and burnt orange follow. The Oloroso barrel is subtle and balanced, adding an intricacy without overwhelming the heart of the whiskey.

Palate: Spice and dark fruits such as dates and raisins, but a touch of fresh raspberries as well. There is a hint of stone fruit. This is a much deeper and more horizontal Wild Turkey than I am accustomed to. Underlying caramel and vanilla are encompassed by overarching spice with a bit of honey-based sweetness. Fantastic winter sipper, potentially with one small ice cube because I personally find it a bit more approachable at a slightly lower proof. Like the nose, it is very well balanced with the Oloroso aging, a nod to holding on to tradition.

The Takeaway

I am a die-hard Wild Turkey lover. I support them as a brand, a family, and the whiskey they make. However, I am not as impressed by Revival as I had hoped. It carries a lovely balance between the Wild Turkey base Bourbon and the Oloroso flavor they are incorporating, but it comes to me as a bit forward and spice driven. After deciding this, I researched other reviews and read that time and patience helps bring this particular bottle into kinder eyes, so I will revisit it in a few months once the bottle has had a moment to breath. In the meantime, I allowed the glass to breath for several hours, which brought out a softer, more caramelized and fruitier spirit! As it stands right out of a fresh bottle, I find it a bit too harsh with not enough complexity. So, let it open up and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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About the author

Cameron Holck

Bartender in Portland, OR.