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Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Triumph Rye Whiskey Is Outstanding: Review

Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Triumph Rye Whiskey Is Outstanding: Review

Wild Turkey saves some of its most special whiskey for its high-end annual Master’s Keep release, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that liquid is the oldest, rarest, or most uniquely cask-finished in the distillery’s warehouses. In the case of the latest edition, called Triumph, that’s a very good thing: This 10-year-old rye is not flashy, it’s just delicious.

At a decade old, this is the oldest age-statement rye whiskey ever released by Wild Turkey (there is whiskey up to 12 years old included in the blend), although the distillery has released bourbon at that age and older. This is only the second rye to be included in the Master’s Keep series, which launched in 2015, the first being 2019’s Cornerstone (a blend of nine- to 11-year-old rye). Could a reason for that be that legendary Wild Turkey master distiller Jimmy Russell is just not a big fan of rye? His son, master distiller Eddie Russell who is the force behind Master’s Keep, admits as much. “He’ll taste it in the lab, but to this day he’ll never, ever order rye,” Eddie said on a recent Zoom call. “People ask, what about in his cocktails? Well, Jimmy’s cocktail is usually just an ice cube.” But this whiskey series is Eddie’s baby, a chance to spread his whiskey wings beyond the core lineup, if you will, and listen to the advice of his son, associate blender Bruce Russell, who is on the record as being a fervent rye whiskey fan.

Wild Turkey has been making rye for decades, despite any misgivings Jimmy might have had. “In the beginning, Jimmy was buying rye from distilleries in Pennsylvania and Maryland,” Eddie said. “He said bourbon should be made in Kentucky, and rye should be made in those states. But we’ve been making it since the mid-’70s. Jimmy had his recipe—putting a little corn in the mashbill, which is what the bourbon guys like, to give it a little bit of sweetness.” That certainly comes across with Triumph, a well-aged but not overly oaky expression that is a fantastic example of what a Kentucky-style rye should taste like. This is a well-balanced whiskey with a nice dusty, oaky sweetness, and notes of vanilla, black pepper, nutmeg, salted caramel, and brown sugar. There is also loads of fruit notes, both fresh and dried, which manage to pop despite its age. At 104 proof, there’s a bit of heat on the finish, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming or too strong. This is an expensive bottle, but I would certainly not be afraid to use this in a cocktail.

Now, is a 10-year-old rye whiskey really worth the $275 price tag that this Master’s Keep edition commands? That’s a bit of a stretch, considering that there are others out there that you can find for much less than that. This is an absolutely beautiful rye whiskey and really a testament to the quality of liquid that Wild Turkey is known for, but that price could make it a tough sell for some people. That being said, if you do decide to drop your hard-earned cash on this bottle, you will not be disappointed–this just might be the best rye whiskey Wild Turkey has ever released.

Score: 95

  • 100 Worth trading your first born for
  • 95 – 99 In the Pantheon: A trophy for the cabinet
  • 90 – 94 Great: An excited nod from friends when you pour them a dram 
  • 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not quite special enough to chase on the secondary market
  • 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, solid and reliable
  • Below 80 It’s alright: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this

Every week Jonah Flicker tastes the most buzzworthy and interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back each Friday for his latest review.

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