I had a few sips of RB and wrote a review that some could justifiably consider a bit 'out there'.
Well, as the one and only, Gilda Radner, used to say, 'Nevermind'.
I am now having a sip of Kentucky Spirit. KS cost about another $15 a bottle, and whether it is worth it or not is entirely up to you. But to me KS is a better bourbon..........and if you have read my recent review, you know I am high (don't take that literally) on RB and consider it a first rate bourbon.
What does KS have that RB does not? The word 'delicate' does not usually work with WT bourbons, but KS is a bit more delicate than RB and slightly softer, allowing the richness to penetrate a bit further before the spice creates its fuss.
Offending no one, I hope, I would almost go so far out as to say that KS has the shadow of the grape when compared to RB. Everyone knows this ain't true, that it is probably time in the barrel that makes the difference (I think), but it may also be the barrel selection done by Jimmy Russell.
We are taliking degrees of difference twixt these superb Wild Turkey bourbons here, and you might prefer RB over KS, but not me. I like that extra degree of smooth delicacy (rounds RB edges ever so slightly) that i find in KS.
How close is WT to the great bourbons from the past? Maybe some of our members who have had sips of the older bourbons would venture their opinions? I, inexperiended with past bourbons as I am, cannot believe that they surpassed the best Wild Turkey bourbons of this day. Wild Turkey bourbons go in at lower proofs than most other bourbons and make great friends with the barrel while they are there. There are those, especially those new to bourbon and its 'American Whiskiness' who find WT to have a certain rawness and bite, who never forgive WT for those qualities, and there is little you can say to change their minds, but they seem not to note the wonderful rich barrel flavors that the WT bourbons have.
That lower entry proof brings rewards of its own and just as hops constrain the sweetness of malt in excellent beers, the rye and yeast in the WT bourbons offset the barrel richness and keep it from dominating the flavor profile. For many whiskey drinkers new to bourbon, Wild Turkey overbalances the sweetness with too much bite (I have heard this so many times it is boring), but you rarely hear this from folks who know bourbon. It may be an acquired taste (smokey Scotchs certainly are) like some other whiskies.
Still, yet and all, Wild Turkey always, always, lives on among bourbon lovers as among the best. And, in my opinion, Wild Turkey Tradition, its newest specialty offering, has opened yet another door for them with its subdued spiciness (controlled by the drier barrel effects). Whether this was planned and deliberate, or brought about by necessity (too many barrels that had not made the cut for RB or KS), I will never know, but as one who finds dryness in bourbon very nice as a change, I applaud their efforts. WT Tradition is, in my opinion, unlike their other offerings, more like some other ultra-aged bourbons. The customer base for ultra-aged bourbons (people who like them for their own peculiar flavor profiles) is no doubt smaller, but to be quite cynical, the extra cost of utlra-aged bourbons and the myth that they are better, will sell a lot of them to the unwashed.
I say now, as one who has played the games associated with ultra-aged bourbons. 'THEY ARE NOT BETTER, BUT THEY ARE DIFFERENT', you may like them, you may not............but it is much more costly to play in this game and almost certainly worth it to only a small number of fools (yours truly being amonst them).
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas