Whisky Advocate

Review: Wild Turkey “Tradition” 14 year old

November 6th, 2009

I just reviewed four new bourbons over the past couple days. Here’s the first one.

135Wild Turkey “Tradition”, 14 year old, 50.5%, $100
Richly textured—almost chewy—with toffee, molasses, nougat, date, candy corn, ripe clementine and raisin, peppered with dusty grain, cocoa powder, moss, Play-Doh, subtle mint and herbs. Not as crisp or clean on the palate as the Wild Turkey American Spirit 15 year old, released a couple years ago (which I rated a 94), but it is very good and (dare I say?) rather therapeutic in nature. It makes for a nice digestif. This is a different style of Wild Turkey. There’s a good deal of wood influence. I suspect that some will like this a lot, but others might not warm up to it as much. It took me a few encounters before I embraced it.

Advanced Malt Advocate Magazine Rating: 89

11 Responses to “Review: Wild Turkey “Tradition” 14 year old”

  1. Any motivation for the odd packaging? It seems a bit strange, but perhaps they just need some way to differentiate from their other offerings.

  2. John Hansell says:

    Luke, and it comes in this wood box too (which I didn’t show).

  3. JWC says:

    $100 for something you (I trust you John) rate a 89? I think I’ll pass. Besides, I just picked up another bottle of the WLW and George T. Stagg this afternoon (a discount liquor store in my neighborhood got a bottle of each as their allotment of the 2009 BT Antique Collection) – joins my 3 WLW’s and 3 Stagg’s I previously picked up. Much better investments. I think I’ll just wait for this year’s Pappy’s to come out.

    BTW John, have/will you try a Colorado Whisky I’ve been hearing about?

  4. Todd says:

    One hundred dollars is expensive, but those of us who love all things Wild Turkey, I will probably give it a shot.

  5. John Hansell says:

    It is a different tasting Turkey. Not all will fancy this one.

  6. John Hansell says:

    JWC, I assume you are referring to Stranahan’s? I’ve had some that I really liked and there were other releases I was indifferent about. They have many experiments going on (which they call “snowflakes”, because no two are alike).

  7. John,

    Greetings. Just introduced to your blog via the WSJ piece. Glad to have you as a current and future source of whiskey information.

    Question: What happened to Wild Turkey’s aging process and inventory after the warehouse fire eight or ten years back? I always enjoyed the taste of the 101 proof which was remarkably smooth. Sometime after the fire “Aged 8 years” disappeared from the label. More importantly, the whiskey acquired a “bite” that I didn’t enjoy. I tried to get some information from the Wild Turkey distillery but was sent a pre-programmed, marketing e-mail that told me nothing. I’ve since changed my brand and now really enjoy Evan Williams as my number one bourbon.

    Any feedback would be appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    David Hornick
    Leavenworth, Kansas

  8. John Hansell says:

    Hi David,

    I’m not sure about the “bite” you are referring to. Yes, I am aware of the loss of the 8 year old age statement. It’s always sad when that happens. But as far as I know, they’re still making the whiskey the same way. (But you can’t go wrong with Evan Williams too!)

  9. Wyatt says:

    Well, I’m a year late it seems. Nonetheless, I was(am) researching any notes regarding WT Tradition today in preparation for an upcoming dinner.

    It is excellent to find this site and kudos for your devotion to your work. I don’t know how blogs work with the new reports overshadowing the old ones but perhaps this will be noticed, read by you and beckon your reply.

    Have you reviewed the current bottling of Tradition? Notable differences from 2009 ?….

    We will also be tasting Elijah Craig 12 and 18 and Russell’s Reserve…. My inclination is to begin with the EC 12, then to RR10, then the EC18 and finale with Tradition. Is there a formula you follow when sampling from multiple brands?

    David from KS,
    Doubtful you will read this but just in case. I was also deeply affected after the change in WT 101. It was my “go to” bourbon for years. The evolution of the label was noticed by me. The first thing removed from the label was “Aged 8 years”, I still look for the missing red band below the label that housed those important words. I did find a few bottles while chasing birds in Nebraska a couple years after the label change and bought them, locked them up and threw away the key. One day I will pick the lock.
    Also the label for sometime still had the “Old No. 8” upon it though the red age band was gone. The beard on the turkey was short. Then the final change, there is no number “8” anywhere on the label. Suddenly the beard on the turkey was long and a story was writ on the back label. My thoughts were, older turkey, younger whiskey. Shortly thereafter (about 2 years) Russell’s Reserve was released. I was rather distraught with Eddie and Jimmy and it has taken me years to accept change. I picked up a bottle of Russell’s Reserve some time back and again there is some Turkey in the cabinet. Also, regarding age, Evan Williams did the same thing a couple years ago. Took the age right off the label that is.

    • John Hansell says:

      David, I’m glad you found this site. And yes, I see all comments that come in, regardless of how old the post is.

      I have not seen a new WT Tradition for 2010. Are you sure one was released? One good rule of thumb when hosting a tasting is to start with the lighter, more sublte whiskies and work you way to the heavier ones.

      Yes, I do miss the old Russell’s Reserve at the higher strength, and I made sure I grabbed a bottle before they all disappeared. Cheers!

  10. Jesse Smith says:

    I really miss the old Russell’s Reserve. I stockpiled and it was a good run, but the last of my stockpile just got finished. Luckily I still have some Tribute and some American Spirit around here. Apart from Rare Breed, I haven’t been a big fan of some of the stuff Wild Turkey has been putting on the shelf lately. I was really disappointed in Tradition.

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