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Blind Rye Tasting Results: A Tale of Three Turkeys

Dr. François

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On the evening of Friday, June 27, 2008, three of us sat down at our respective computers to record our impressions of three blind samples. Tasters were aware of the theme of the tasting, but were not aware of the contents of the specific samples:

Current Wild Turkey Rye 101 (Blind Sample "A")

Current Russell’s Reserve Rye 90 (Blind Sample "B")

Dusty Wild Turkey Rye 101 (Blind Sample "C")

Several members sent various samples to ACDetroit. ACDetroit put the samples into empty, clean 50ml bottles, labeled the bottles as A, B, and C, and shipped the bottles to the tasters.

At the appointed time, the tasters met in a gmail chat room and recorded impressions of the three samples. All three tasters knew that the three samples were rye whiskeys, were produced by Wild Turkey (though RRR does not explicitly indicate so), and were of varying ages and proofs.

What follows is a direct transcript, edited only for clarity.

In attendance:



Dr. Francois

Part I: Appearance

ACDetroit: We should look at color on all three first to compare.

Dr. Francois: Yep, let's do that. B is lighter in color than the other two.

Rake: I have B as slightly lighter as well. It's close.

ACDetroit: I feel "B" is just a hue lighter as well with A&C almost the same

Rake: Probably B, A, C to my eyes, from darker to lighter.. But again, very similar.

Dr. Francois: Yep. Very similar, overall.

Part II: Nose/Aroma

Rake: Wow. I got my nose waaay down in A and got a lot of alcohol.

ACDetroit: WOAH! All three nose very different. Sample A seems to have a lot of mint and Rye crisp to it.

Dr. Francois: I agree...sample A has a sparkly mint nose. Sample B is much more mild.

ACDetroit: "B" seems to be a little bit muddled compared to "A," but similar

Rake: Once I backed up I got the rye spice and mint on sample A. A little spice on sample B.

Dr. Francois: Sample C has a more aged, wispy quality...more leathery.

ACDetroit: "C" has a rich almost tea in the nose. I agree with Doc.

Rake: I'm mostly getting a soft candy-like sweetness from C.

ACDetroit: I can see that, Rake. almost a candied mint

Dr. Francois: I lean more toward a mint-blended tea….unsteeped....before it went into water

Rake: What you guys are getting is there but very fleeting. Like first in the nose and then dissipating to the candy note.

Dr. Francois: How would you rank the nose, from most appealing to least appealing?

ACDetroit: A,C,B

Dr. Francois: A, C, B

Rake: C seems less like a rye but I like it better than B. Rank: A, C, B.

ACDetroit: Wow that's interesting! All the same.

Dr. Francois: Let's drink some whiskey

ACDetroit: Shall we drink!!

Rake: Indeed

Part III: Tasting

--Sample A

ACDetroit: "A" on the palate

Dr. Francois: Exceptionally light. Sparkly. Mint. Candy on the finish

ACDetroit: Very! The nose is stronger than the entry! But very similar

Rake: Light on the front of the tongue; Minty, spicy explosion on the back.

Dr. Francois: wow...I want more.

ACDetroit: Sample A leaves the tongue tingling in the back and the front begging for more.

Dr. Francois: Reminds me of a very, very aged rye...like saz 18 or Handy

ACDetroit: Getting a little coriander on the back of the tongue finish! I've never got that before.

Rake: Almost like cinnamon candy lingering on the back of the tongue and throat...my throat is definitely tingling...in a good way.

Dr. Francois: I describe that sensation as sparkly

Rake: Sparkly is a good description.

ACDetroit: I'm surprised with a great nose, the mouth feel is thinner than I anticipated.

ACDetroit: Sample A is very clingy to the glass as well.

Dr. Francois: Shall we move onto B?

--Sample B

ACDetroit: The legs on "B" are very thin and stream down the glass quickly!

Rake: The nose is not doing it for me.

Dr. Francois: Flat, uneventful. more beer like...like the back end of a over-brewed porter.

ACDetroit: I get corn oil up front with the Rye flavor fumbling in at the end.

Dr. Francois: Tastes like a weaker whiskey amped up to taste like something.

Rake: I'm getting almost a paint thinner quality on the nose, grass, grass, and more grass, although it does linger and brighten a bit.

ACDetroit: Yeah Rake, I'm getting the grass or husk taste a lot as well. Finish is like Doc says: uneventful and short at best.

Rake: The fumbling for something at the end is the best aspect for me, but that's not saying much.

ACDetroit: I'll second that!

Dr. Francois: Like a drunk 17 year old on prom night...

Rake: Precisely.

ACDetroit: A minute 29, my personal best!

Rake: Heh.

Dr. Francois: noob… Sample C?

ACDetroit: B-)

Rake: Sure.

ACDetroit: I'm in, I can't wait to be done with "B"

--Sample C

ACDetroit: The nose reminds me of the ND OGD 114 I opened at My buddy’s house.

Dr. Francois: REDEMPTION!

Dr. Francois: Similar profile to A. Richer and oakier, though. more of that leather/tea I noticed on the nose.

ACDetroit: WOW! The mouth feel is buttery. smooth and very nice.

Rake: As the KFC commercial says: I like flavor.

ACDetroit: Lots of wood in the finish and that tea and mint floating around. This one has some sexy legs on the glass as well.

Dr. Francois: Classic profile...spicy and full. legs for miles.

ACDetroit: I agree with that! Spicy and full nails it!

Rake: I'm getting the butter and good heat, like a spicy cinnamon roll. Spice and heat: excellent!

ACDetroit: Yep! Loving "C.”

Part IV: Final Rankings

Rake: I'm pretty set on C, A, B. C has more of that "spicy, full" profile that I prefer.

ACDetroit: C,A,B.

Dr. Francois: I agree, though A certainly has its charms...My ranking would be C, A, lots of other stuff, then B

ACDetroit: Right!

Rake: Sample C seems more like Handy, which is perhaps my favorite rye of them all.

Decision: Unanimous.

Overall Favorite: Sample C: Wild Turkey 101 (Dusty)

Second Favorite: Sample A: Wild Turkey 101 (Current)

Least Favorite: Sample B: Russell’s Reserve Rye 90 (Current)

Dr. Francois: I really like the current WTR101. Lighter, a good sub for any rye I've tasted.

ACDetroit: Yeah, I'm impressed with it as well, for the price.

Dr. Francois: more rye tasting than Baby Saz or Beam products.

Rake: I need a bottle, for sure.


The "dusty" sample of Wild Turkey Rye 101 was the favorite, though the current WT101 followed close behind. Tasters did not care for the RR90, though some stated that on its own, it wasn't bad. Perhaps the deck was stacked against it.





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Interesting. WT-101 is my Monday pour. Every Monday.

Joe :usflag:

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I agree wholeheartedly with the group. My favorite everyday pour is WT rye 101. Great flavors and a great price.

While visiting Wild Turkey for a tour, we were lucky enough to meet Jimmy Russels son, Eddie IIRC. He seemed very surprised that a bourbon lover would like the WT rye. He suggested that I step up to RRR, but I shot him down immediately by letting him know that the price to flavor ratio was what kept me coming back.

I can't remember the last time I bought their regular WT 101, because the rye is so tasty. Please, WT, don't change the rye!

Thanks to the participants for such an interesting experiment. Well done!

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Very cool post, guys. Thanks! And I'm glad to know that being a tight-wad occasionally pays off.

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Least Favorite: Sample B: Russell’s Reserve Rye 90 (Current)

Takes the sting out of the RR not being available in Oregon (the bourbon is, but not the rye). Thanks.

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Very interesting, guys. Thanks.

As I think I have posted on the RRR thread, I was full of anticipation waiting for RRR to come in to the state, months after it appeared on the state list, but was then underwhelmed when I finally got a bottle. When it's gone, I won't be replacing it.

WTR has always been a favorite (back to the green label days), but it went through a rough patch a few years ago, presumable when supply outran demand. But I think it's almost back on form. It's one of two or three ryes that I make sure to keep on hand at all times. The quality to price ratio is a big bonus.


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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...
I agree with Jeff. I was also underwhelmed with RR Rye. I buy the regular

WT 101 Rye.

Many thanks for the good write-up. You all have saved me money and disappointment. I love a good rye whiskey but its very hrd to find in Alabama. I stumbled on the WTR 101 last year and have nursed the bottle along for fear of running out. Sadly, there is only a couple of good drams left and I haven't seen another bottle available since I bought the first one.

I'll hoist one in your honor!

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  • 4 weeks later...

WTR101 has been on my list of all-time best values for a long time. I need to do a side-by-side with Ritt BIB, which is also on that list.

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