As some of you may have noticed on Instagram, I picked up a “transitional label” Rare Breed 116.8 today. Did I need it? Not really. I have a current-label batch 116.8 at home (my third, if that tells you anything). But in the name of Gobble Science I felt it was important that someone give this one a “serious” analysis.
One thing I noticed off the bat - this is the last Rare Breed label to reference Austin, Nichols Distilling Co., an assumed name of Wild Turkey Distilling Co. (Kentucky Spirit’s label still references Austin, Nichols). These are Campari-registered companies. Austin, Nichols & Co., however, is still owned by Pernod Ricard. Also, the “Est. 1855” on the neck label isn’t the establishment of Wild Turkey or the location of the distillery itself. It’s the founding date of Fitts, Austin & Turner, a New York wholesale grocer that would later become Austin, Nichols & Co. But that’s a story for another day.
I poured a dram of this 2016 batch 116.8 and (unsurprisingly) it tastes exactly as you’d expect. Truthfully, this is my first pour and I prefer to let higher-proof bourbons have a little air in the bottle to open up, but I can say for sure it’s not batch 112.8. Here’s my notes: nutty toffee, toasted vanilla, caramel, sweet oak, baking spice, brown sugar glaze, cream corn, hints of pepper & leather.
As I’ve said several times in the past, this is modern Wild Turkey 101 cranked to 11 (and I love it). Is it notably complex or sophisticated? Not really, but I still love it. It’s unapologetically Wild Turkey - a friendly punch in the shoulder from your best buddy. If you’re looking for a quality barrel-proof bourbon at quality price (remember, Booker’s is $70 now), look no further than Rare Breed 116.8 (old or new label). Cheers! dj