Whisky Advocate

New Releases from Wild Turkey, Compass Box, and Buffalo Trace Distillery

June 9th, 2011

Typically, this isn’t the time of year that we hear of many new product releases. This week however, there was news of three whiskies that have been or are soon to be released.   

Wild Turkey mixes things up with Wild Turkey 81. This is a blend of six, seven and eight year old whiskies bottled in the first package change to a Wild Turkey product in almost 15 years. To quote Jimmy Russell, “Even a good old boy changes his shirt every now and again”. He is referring to the “badass” label that dresses the classic Wild Turkey bottle.  But Jimmy was hands off on this creation. Wild Turkey 81 was solely crafted by his son, Eddie. It’s described as a “mixable spirit”, able to face any mixer or cocktail with the characteristic boldness of Wild Turkey. Available in the U.S. with an MSRP of $19.99.

Great King Street is the address of Compass Box’s office in Scotland. It’s also the name of their latest release – a range devoted to blended Scotch whisky. These blends are non-chill-filtered and bottled at natural color. John Glaser, Compass Box Whiskymaker proclaims this range a “rebirth of the blend”, created to appeal to both the malt whisky enthusiasts and those new to whisky. The first release in the Great King Street range is the Artist’s Blend. Bottled at 43%, the Artist’s Blend is available now in Europe and will wash upon the shores of the U.S. and other markets in September. Estimated MSRP is $41.00 per 50cl bottle. (Note: The U.S. will be getting 37.5 and 75cl bottle sizes instead.) More details here.

Buffalo Trace Distillery has released its Millennium Barrel bourbon. Crafted from the last barrel of the 20th century that was rolled into the only bonded single barrel warehouse in the world on December 31, 1999. Nearly 12 years later, 174 bottles have been filled, each label handwritten and each bottle individually numbered. The packaging includes a numbered hardwood box containing a piece of the barrel’s stave. Not one will be available in stores. Buffalo Trace will give each bottle to non-profit organizations across the country to auction off, with the hope to raise $200,000 for charity. Get all of the details and application at .

23 Responses to “New Releases from Wild Turkey, Compass Box, and Buffalo Trace Distillery”

  1. Rick Duff says:

    Seems like interesting ideas and decent tasting stuff with the WT and CB stuff.. and decent prices.

  2. Mr Manhattan says:

    In re: the Wild Turkey release…

    I’ll keep an open mind but in my experience anything less than 86 proof == fail for cocktails. It’s the same problem that the yellow label Four Roses suffers from. Generally, you want 90 proof or better unless, perhaps, if you’ve been asked to put bourbon and coke in the same glass by someone.


    P.S. And, yeah, and I’ll take my licks on this one too if it comes down to it.

    • Mary says:

      I agree – The yellow label Four Roses is a perfect example of that fail. I’ll stick to the WT101 which I really enjoy.

  3. JWC says:

    WT 81 – 6, 7 and 8 yo blend, so it’s just a watered down WT 101, correct? i wonder what jimmy russell really thinks about watered down whiskey. i wish they’d bring back the 8 yo and 12 yo for the US market. i understand that stocks are not as plentiful. ramp up production and bring them back! charge a premium if you must but give us the choice. the old 8 yo was better than the current 101 but the 12 yo, THAT was special.

    • Vince says:

      Totally agree JWC! Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    • Red_Arremer says:

      Yeah JWC– I was a little confused about the notion that this was a “repackaging.” If they’d said it was also a “watering down” it would have made more sense.

  4. Morgan Steele says:

    Kudos to Compass Box for continued creativity in their expressions.

    Also, I’m a fan of the split bottle sizes. I would like to see more companies follow CB’s lead.

  5. sam k says:

    Interesting news on three fronts! Wild Turkey, if it’s got to be in the 80 proof range, should be an 81 if only for brand identity, though I tend to agree with Mr. M and JWC on the wimp factor of less than 86.

    Another nice concept by Mr. Glaser. It will be interesting to read the reviews, which I’m sure will not disappoint.

    And lastly, hooray yet again for Buffalo Trace! What a refreshing concept. They could have put it in Lalique and charged $1500 a bottle, but instead chose to put the money in the hands of charity, price to be determined at auction. I hope you can keep us abreast of what non-profits make these available; hopefully some will appear in online auctions.

  6. Texas says:

    As an avowed WT 101 fan I am going to give Eddie Russell the benefit of the doubt. If there is any bouron that can have great flavor (and stand up in a cocktail) at 81 proof it is WT. The current 80 proof I think is barely 4 years, I think the 81 will take on more barrel char and I am looking forward to trying it, although 101 will still be my #1 I imagine.

    I read a review of Great Street over at Serge Valentin’s Whiskyfun. It really sounds really good. A lot of the Compass Box products are pretty fairly priced. I hope this one will be as well.

    I am glad BT is doing this for charity as well, great idea.

    • JWC says:

      Texas, do you think WT 81 was Eddie Russell’s idea or some bean counter at Campari? Doesn’t take a distiller to come up with an idea to simply dilute an existing whiskey. But to a bean counter, it must seem like genius. I’ll stick to WT101 and dilute it (or not) as I see fit. You get more whiskey with the WT101 anyway. I do like the new labels. A lot. Now if only those new 101 labels had “8 years old” and “12 years old” on them =)

      WT products are in my top five favorite bourbons. I like their entire product line – WT101, RR (like the old 101 proof better – pity I will run out soon), WTKS and WTRB. Their limited edition, premium releases are eagerly anticipated and heavenly. WT101 is a mainstay and one of the bourbons (the other is Weller 12) that I always recommend to newbies.

      • Texas says:

        I had the 8yo WT in Australia (that’s what you get there in the 101). I have to say I thought it was a tad woody. I prefer the current U.S. WT 101. All I am saying is that I will give the 81 a chance..and you very well may be right that it was strictly a bean counter thing, but Eddie did have to decide on the mix of 6-7-8. Maybe it is a different mix of the 6-7-8 than the 101.

        We both certainly agree on Weller 12 and WT 101 as being some of the best around.

        • JWC says:

          Texas, i’ve never had the export 8yo. bc of the limit on buying duty free, i had to decide between another bottle of 12yo or a bottle of the 8yo. the 12 yo won. i understand that among folks that have had the old US 8yo and the current export/duty free 8yo, they all prefer the old US 8yo – even if it wasn’t “glut” whiskey.

  7. Ethan Smith says:

    Awesome idea from Buffalo Trace! I’m really glad to see them do this charitable donation. This should raise a lot of money for worthy causes. Also, I’ll be interested to try the WT81. How does this compare to the current 80? Is it just older bourbon?

  8. John Hansell says:

    I think it’s cool what BT is doing with their special whiskeys and the charity angle.

    I am very excited to try the new Compass Box whiskies (as always).

    Regarding the WT 81, I am keeping an open mind.

  9. Red_Arremer says:

    I’m looking forward to this Great King bottling. I checked out the website for it and saw no mention of Asyla. I’d be sad if this were replacing it?

  10. Eric says:

    I love the Buffalo Trace idea. Now, let’s hope they put up a list of recipients after the bottles get awarded.

    And for the record, the correct (for now) BT link is:

    Yes, there is a typo in their own link!

  11. Greg Adams says:

    I like the 101 Turkey real well. I’m willing to give the new Turkey 81 a chance. At worst I will leave it for friends who want a bourbon and Coke/ Ginger.

    The old 8 and 12 year old were better but don’t think we will see them again and that is a shame.

  12. Hi,

    While I can’t state it as a fact, many producers probably have charitable giving programs, and they may well not use these as self-promotional media events. I’m not knocking what BT has done, but some of the comments presume because other companies don’t make big announcements about their charitable programs, they don’t have them. There used to something positive about a quality called modesty, but such a simple thing seems to get lost in the “Notice me! Notice me!” fast paced world of modern marketing.

    • Tip says:

      If we were talking about an individual I would agree wholeheartedly, but this is a corporation. If you’ve got a marketing department then the whole concept of modesty has gone out the window. You can’t claim any level of modesty when you have an entire department of people paid to yell “Notice me! Notice me!” for a living.

  13. Wayne says:

    To be a nit on facts, the last day of the previous millennium was December 31, 2000.

  14. Matt B. says:

    Re: Wild Turkey – a lot of you have talked about the 8yr and 12yr but what about the 86.8 (degrees proof) ?
    It’s still listed on their website, but not sold in the US. As the site says, “perfect for those who enjoy bourbon with a mixer.” They should just bring that here – with a new label design.

    • JWC says:

      matt, i had the old US release 86.8 from dusty hunting. accounting for the difference in proof, i thought it was better than the current 101. i’ve also seen export only bottles of the 86.8 but have never had any.

  15. Rauch, Inc., located in New Albany, Indiana, has been awarded a Buffalo Trace Millenium Bottle. The bottle will be auctioned at the agency’s Lucas Oil Golf Scramble on August 29, 2011, at Fuzzy Zoeller’s Covered Bridge Golf Club. Absentee bids are also being accepted. Please contact Teressa Jackson at or 812-945-4063 for more information. Rauch is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization serving children and adults with disabilties for nearly 60 years.

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