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Episode

Episode 2 – Wild Turkey In The House

Well, you’ve lasted this far and decided to tune back in for our second episode. I’d ask what the hell is wrong with you, but I think it’s rude to insult your listeners when you’re only two episodes into your brand new podcast. Either way, we’re very excited to dive deeper today into the world of Wild Turkey, and to have you along for the ride! Just one show production notice this time, we do record the show in a cigar lounge we’ve promoted in the show before, and this lounge has a pool table just outside the room where we record. Please excuse the background noise, but remember we record the show in public and there may be some distortion. Thanks for your understanding!

The Bourbons

As we saw the last episode, the room seemed to discount the Wild Turkey 101 at the beginning because of images and memories of frat parties and college hijinks fueled by plastic bottles of the stuff in a misspent youth. However, the group, in the end, tended toward the Wild Turkey 101 as their choice for the episode, and it was pure luck we scheduled our Wild Turkey episode to follow right after! Totally, guys, we swear, this was already planned, being 100 here…and now, as we dive deeper, we can see a little more of Jimmy Russel’s genius at work.

As they all share one mash bill, we also wanted to give that at the macro level below. Glencairns out, everyone, it’s time to drink!

Wild Turkey Mash Bill

Corn Content Indicator

75% Corn

Rye Content Indicator

13% Rye

Barley Content Indicator

12% Malted Barley

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit

Proof: 101
Price: $45-65
Characteristics: Easy, smooth
Rarity: Moderately Available

Note: Our bottle was a store pick from Warehouse Liquors in Chicago (thanks, Gene!) and was aged in Warehouse G, Rick 5.

Tasting Notes

In the beginning, there was good citrus and lime on the nose which was quite refreshing. Had hints of the brown sugar and tart apple pie as we said in the Wild Turkey 101 from Episode 1, very light on ethanol.

Had a good bit more warmth and sweetness in the flavor, with a robust Kentucky Hug at the end of the swallow that had all of us remembering the warmth of homemade apple pie. Cinnamon, tartness, and sweet nuttiness like a nutmeg, just overall deliciousness.

Much sweeter post-cigar, it accentuated the natural sweetness as we smoked and it subdued the other flavors. We had a lot of comparison with the Buffalo Trace in Episode One; none of us seemed to pick the Kentucky Spirit once we began the Davidoff.

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit
Russell's Reserve Single Barrel

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel

Proof: 110
Price: $40-50
Characteristics: Gentle and aromatic for the ABV, excellent mouth-feel
Rarity: Generally Available

Tasting Notes

There was more spice on the nose than the Kentucky Spirit, some more cinnamon and caramel and vanilla overall. Despite the increase in ABV, there was also a lack of ethanol on the nose.

The mouthfeel was the most significant difference; it’s very smooth and more complex than the first. Even among the Russell’s Reserve that Chris owns, this was his favorite bottle. Vanilla stood out, caramel, and a good bit of cinnamon. Jason found the vanilla even enhanced as he swirled the bourbon in his Glencairn.

With the cigar, though, it brought a lot more complexity to the flavor which was an improvement overall. There was deeper sweetness and more of the vanilla we detected before, albeit with a deeper apple pie that other reviewers have also identified inside. Some could have been because of the brand and style of the cigar, but it’s a testament to the Wild Turkey brand that the bourbon stood up so well to the chosen smoke.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed (116.8 Proof)

Proof: 116.8
Price: $40-50
Characteristics: Flavorful, with a thick mouth coating
Rarity: Varies on Proof Version

Tasting Notes

On the nose, it was pretty deep and complex, but stronger than the others. More ginger and more savory spice than the sweetness of the other two.

The flavor on the palate continued that same flavor profile of the nose, taking the sweetness of the first two and dulling it for the savory side. Baking spices replaced the citrus notes and added to the bite of this bottle over the first and second. That dark flavor was a hit, though, as it made an interesting contrast to the others.

Post-cigar, the Rare Breed was overpowered by the cigar and ended up ruining the taste for us once we lit up. Chris disagreed, he enjoyed it before and after, but Jason and I were a lot less impressed and had to move this down to our least favorite because of the collapse of the sweetness and the accentuation of the spice to the point of no longer being palatable.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed

Overall Bourbon Impressions

The three of us went through the bourbons twice, as per the format of the show: once naked and once with the cigar. There was a lean toward the Russell’s by Joe and Jason before the cigar with the Rare Breed still Chris’s favorite at the beginning of the show. As we tasted, however, it seemed to “wake up” our taste buds and get us more depth to the flavors.

Typical to our experience, everything changed once the cigar started. There was a general preference for the Russell’s Reserve pre-cigar, but the cigar only enhanced that. Jason tended toward the Kentucky Spirit at the start, as did I, but we had a lot of love for the Russell’s which improved considerably once we smoked. The group moved from Kentucky Spirit, Reserve, Rare Breed to Reserve, Rare Breed, Kentucky Spirit.

The Cigar

It wasn’t hard to come up with cigar number two for the show, the brand is now almost synonymous with cigars and the lifestyle of smoking, more so than the country that others think of when they think stogies. Davidoff is best known for their Swiss shop that has been open since 1911, but for the past fifty years they’ve produced their own cigars and have come to dominate the industry while still maintaining their mystique as the penultimate source of high-quality tobacco.

Based on availability at our local store, we opted for the Signature 2000 Anniversario, a subset of the Signature series that celebrates a half-century of Davidoff cigars, but your store should have one or all of the Signature series available. We highly recommend the Corona shape and size for a beginner, like the 2000 offers.

Davidoff Signature 2000 Anniversario

Davidoff Signature 2000 Anniversario

Length: 5″
Ring: 43
Vitola: Corona
Price: $13-15
Rarity: Generally Available 

Tasting Notes

Featuring an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, the binder is a hybrid Ecuadorian Connecticut, and Habano Seco blend over a Dominican Seco filler. The construction of the cigar was terrific, as it never once had an issue for all three of us as we smoked; they lived up to the Davidoff name and brand.

There was some bit of pepper on the flavor, but I pulled some creaminess on the beginning of the smoke that the others didn’t detect until later in the smoke. There was fresh-cut grass and some earthiness on the smoke that made it quite pleasant, as well.

In the end, though, the group had to pan the cigar and found it didn’t live up to the price-to-size ratio for our desires. It was a good smoke, but it didn’t fit the value proposition that we like to see in beginner cigars. Your mileage may vary, but this is maybe a smoke to save until you’ve had more experience.

The Accessories

We’ve used a number of accessories in this episode, both to drink our bourbon but to also enjoy our cigar. Check out the items below:

Episode 1 – In The Beginning…Bourbon

Apple Pie. Denim. Bourbon. They’re pretty much interchangeable with the good ‘ole Red, White and Blue and for folks like us there’s no doubt bourbon is the essential American liquor. A variety of whiskey, bourbon takes its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky; you know — the home of thoroughbred horses and Bluegrass. Combine some classic Kentucky music and horse racing with bourbon and we’re there! But, in all honesty, we’d take the bourbon regardless.

And cigars, the most beloved and reviled of bad habits enjoyed by people the world over. There is, after all, precious little middle ground for the stogie; you love ’em or hate ’em. People see the cigar either as fragrant and satisfying and a spur to conversation and the philosophical mind, or they revile it as an odious clump of noxious weeds. If you see them as the latter, please kindly never come back to our website.

Today we launch the inaugural episode of our podcast, an endeavor months in the making for our hosts and supported by our friends and our significant others. Hence our aim is to share the knowledge and experience of our hosts and our friends for the novice or beginner just looking to learn more about bourbon or cigars. From the origins of the first mash bills of the American forefathers of bourbon to the fields where the tobacco plants were grown that go into each of our cigars, our aim is to impart our love and appreciation for our passion to you all.

The Bourbons

Today we sampled three different bourbons from three different distilleries that represent, in our opinion, the best place to start for anyone that wants to begin their bourbon journey. Because of that, they all run about $30 a bottle from a major brand liquor store, and while we have some store pick bottles for our tasting you will experience much of the same flavor and nose that we describe when you buy any bottle off the shelf. Let’s dive in!

Buffalo Trace

Proof: 90
Price: $25-30
Characteristics: Easy, smooth
Rarity: Widely Available

Tasting Notes

On the nose we detected orange, buttery, mild scent and mouth feel. The color was lighter, though there were hints of darker color owing to the age of the bourbon.

The most noticeable flavor was caramel and sugar on the first taste, it was a rather sweet bourbon compared to the other two. The initial tasting included sweet caramel, little brown sugar, oily espresso beans. We compared it to rum for that sweetness, though more indicative of the bourbon family in the underlying flavors.

With the cigar, this fell to third place for all of us. Because of the smoke and the taste of the cigar, there was only sugar and water left in this cigar for us and we felt like it wasn’t a great compliment.

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Henry McKenna Bottled in Bond

Proof: 100
Price: $30
Characteristics: Stronger on the nose, smooth drinking
Rarity: Generally Available

Tasting Notes

On the nose it seemed sharper for our tasters than the Buffalo Trace, but that is expected as it is a higher proof. While the nose wasn’t as sweet, there were still subtle notes of nutmeg and sugar in there, which came out more in the tasting.

First we noticed that nutmeg and brown sugar from the nose in the taste, though far less than the Buffalo Trace. Even just 10 proof seemed to set it much higher on the strength meter.

Much sweeter with the cigar, though, and actually tasted closer to the Wild Turkey before the cigar after we’d tasted the cigar. But there was an undertone of spice and smoke that had been more subtle the first time that was much clearer now. We felt the spice was cut, making it a smoother drink than we had in the initial taste.

There’s more on Bottled-in-Bond in our first blog post. Read up, it’s good stuff!

Wild Turkey 101

Proof: 101
Price: $25-25
Characteristics: Smooth, easy to drink
Rarity: Widely Available

Tasting Notes

On the nose it was sweet, but not as sweet as the Buffalo Trace. The nose held butterscotch and toffee, which played through in the tasting itself. Maybe a little raisin, as well, depending on your preference.

The taste had more spice, some underlying notes of pepper with the nuttiness of the Buffalo Trace. We detected the nutmeg and the toffee and butterscotch that we lost in the McKenna. More honey and cereal with a bit of sherry on the palate which made it stand out to our panel.

After the cigar was lit, we found it sweeter than when we first tasted the bourbon. There’s more syrup and brown sugar in the drink and we all had to reassess our overall impressions of this bourbon.

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Overall Bourbon Impressions

Our crew tasted through all three bourbons twice, once “naked” before we lit the cigar, and then again after we’ve had the cigar going for a bit. In the end, the panel decided we really enjoyed the Wild Turkey 101 the most with this particular cigar, with the Henry McKenna a very close second. Chris, though, was still a McKenna fan, and held through both tastings with that as his number one pick.

While the Buffalo Trace was not good for us after the cigar, we have to emphasize that it was our number one pick before the cigar was lit up and the first puffs taken. It is the ultimate proof that your palate is greatly affected by the cigar itself; what we once picked as best was now no longer even worth drinking. Keep that in mind on your journey!

The Cigar

We had to dig deep and come up with what cigar we would provide a novice smoker when they show up to smoke with us, and I think we found the very perfect “first” to use for the show. While there are a large number of sticks you can pick up as your first, we highly recommend this common and smooth beginner’s stick: The Ashton Cabinet Series. Based on availability at our local store, we opted for the Churchill #8 of the series, but as a beginner you can opt for something smaller like the Belicoso or the Corono Gorda.

Ashton_Cabinet__10068.1531883456

Ashton Cabinet #8

Length: 7″
Ring: 49
Price: $13-15
Rarity: Generally Available 

Tasting Notes

Made with Dominican leaf, this Churchill sized cigar is one of the mildest-but-flavorful sticks we’ve ever smoked. The Connecticut shade wrapper is a light tan that belies the delicious complexity of flavor inside, though that could be our bias for maduros showing through. Excellently constructed, it’s the epitome of the high-quality of Ashton’s entire line of cigars. And it was nice to taste the differences in our bourbons once we smoked the cigar.

ERRATA: I messed up, the wrapper is not grown in Connecticut, I mis-read the description from Ashton’s website. They were missing a comma but it’s on me 100%. We’ll make sure to double-check these facts in the future.

The Accessories

We’ve used a number of accessories in this episode, both to drink our bourbon but to also enjoy our cigar. Check out the items below: