Little did one know that a game of hunting fowl and a round of alcohol among good friends would help craft the name for this unorthodox sounding whiskey….
The 19th century had two parallel tales, one a distiller- Jason Rippey who immigrated to the United States from Tyrone, Ireland, only to settle in Kentucky and begin with his first distillery a few years later. With time, two things changed for the Rippey’s, the name was truncated to Ripy and the distillery’s produce amassed quite a fan following. The second tale, near about the same timelines was when Austin Nichols began a wholesale grocery primarily selling tea, coffee and spirits. They didn’t have their own distillery at first, purchasing most, if not all of their spirits from the open market for most of their time in business – a large chunk coming from the Ripy’s Distillery. But all that changed when they went ahead bought the distillery in 1971.
The name however, was coined three decades earlier when one of the executives at Austin Nichols, Thomas McCarthy brought along with him some undiluted 101 proof bourbon while going on a Wild Turkey hunt; a yearly event he spent with a few close mates. So much did they love it, they gave it the nickname – ‘Wild Turkey Bourbon’ and asked if he could bring along some the next time they went hunting. And with that Austin Nichols began selling their produce under this newly coined nickname.
The distillers here distill the spirits at lower ABVs, which would mean lower levels of dilution and hence a higher percentage of those pure flavors still being intact. The barrels too are charred a little longer, roughly around 55 seconds to a minute, leaving the insides with a rough texture, giving rise to the name alligator char. The contents too are aged a bit more, between five and eight years in virgin american oak prior to being bottled at 86.8 proof.
Nose: Fruity and candy like, with some milk chocolate and thick honey sweetness. Woody and charred with the scent of caramelized banana, blanketed by a wave of cinnamon.
Taste: Shards of cinnamon, nutmeg powder, char and oak wood introduce themselves first, only to be later accompanied by caramel syrup, honey, hints of pear and some cherries.
Finish: Medium – mild caramel and twirls of cinnamon spice.
This bourbon comes to me as a very subtle and light whiskey; smooth at first with much of the flavors showing itself off soon after. It isn’t strong nor raw but very contained, putting a more mature front, one that is joyful to sip on.
It’s very much a Bourbon, with very distinguishable signature characteristics that makes it 100% American; I find it somewhat unique as there’s something mysterious in the sense that it doesn’t give itself off all that soon. You get a decent hit of spice that’s not only warm but also quite relaxing. Might not be top dollar but still very decent and worth a look.