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101 proof WT used to be all "Old No 8 Brand". After the fire, the "Old no. 8 Brand" disappeared, even though the 101 proof bourbon was still available. Last week, I found the "Old No. 8 Brand" again on the shelves. The plain 101 proof did not seem to be as good these past couple of years, but then again I thought the difference to be imagined. Could someone of you knowledgeable bourbonites discuss the "Old No. 8 Brand", its' taste properties and its' lineage with Wild Turkey? Thanks
Well, when I was younger, it was labeled as "8 years old" with a prominent "8" on the label. This was back in the late 60's and WT 8 year old was, to my knowledge, one of the top premium bourbons of the time. It was certainly the best I tasted in those days. Very similar to today's flavor, but richer and rounder. A superb pour.
Then, I don't know exactly when the change to the term "No. 8" was made, but presumably they either couldn't supply enough of the 8-year old stock, or they had to contain costs, or both. I also assume that they did this by adding some younger stock.
About 3 years ago, I still saw plenty of the "No. 8" labels, but since then the simpler "101" bottles have taken over. Again, I don't really know the details, but the whiskey is still quite good. There are only two other bourbons I can think of that I like as well for the money (Elijah Craig 12-yr and Old Forester 100-proof), but WT101 is certainly my favorite of the three.
We were told on the WT tour in September that the current WT101 is a mixture of 6,8 and 12yo bourbons. The 80 proof is a mixture of 4,6 and 8yo bourbons.
Didn't Chuck say something to the effect that WT did the ol' switcheroo on the label from 8yo to Old No. 8 hoping nobody would notice? (Similar to AAA 10-Star instead of 10-Years-Old???) I'm too lazy to do a search, but this sounds familiar.
That's the gist of it. I'm too lazy to look up the exact dates, but the switch from "8 years old" to "No. 8 brand" was sometime in the 90s, then just a couple of years ago the "No. 8 brand" was dropped during another package redesign. There was absolutely no rationale for the "No. 8 brand" except a cynical effort to keep a big numeral "8" on the label. Presumably, once they determined that dropping the age statement hadn't hurt sales, they decided to can the "No. 8" as well.
I have no doubt there are some "No. 8 Brand" bottles still in the marketplace.
Wild Turkey's explanation in dropping the age statement was that it would give them more flexibility but their intention was to keep the taste profile of the brand exactly the same.
You are exactly right. I was wondering about the same thing myself, so I asked the man, Jimmy Russell. Now, please don't go quoting me on this, but this is to the best of my knowledge and memory. Years ago, this bourbon was aged 8 years then it went to export (the 8 YO). What used to be 8 YO is now a mixture of 6 to 8 YO, so keeping with tradition they simply changed the label to Old No. 8 Brand, and Jimmy Russell, a strong believer in not changing anything, dropped the Old No. 8. But having said this, you can still buy the Old 8 YO in Canada and other places I am sure, I just don't know where. I have done a side by side tasting between the 8 YO and Wild Turkey 101 (Old No. 8 label) and the 8 YO is a little richer and rounder, but both are supurb bourbons. This sure does get confusing to me but I hope this answers your question.
Thanks, Marvin. What an excellent source of information (Jimmy Russell). I can still remember my first taste of WT 8-yr old. It was probably in 1968 or 1969. Rich and buttery smooth.
Of course, we do have WT 10-year old, now, i.e., Russell's Reserve. It is very good, but I'm not sure it was as good as the 8-yr from 35 years ago.
Nothing is as good as it was 35 years ago -- except us, I mean!
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