The Wild Turkey distillery, located in Lawrenceburg, KY, sits at the top of Wild Turkey Hill. This well-known brand produces some of the most iconic bourbon whiskeys ever to exist. When you’re looking for a high-quality bourbon to enjoy on those quiet afternoons when all you want to do is watch the world go by, consider a glass of Wild Turkey’s Longbranch.
While this bourbon may not have the allure to seasoned drinkers that other brands boast, it does provide an excellent way for newer drinkers to get involved in the bourbon community. For those looking for a recommendation when it comes to bourbon, Longbranch isn’t a bad place to start.
With the involvement of Matthew McConaughey, Wild Turkey has shown that it will do what it takes to ensure that it’s a relevant bourbon for years to come.
History of Wild Turkey
Irish brothers John and James Ripy started off what would become a long history of distillation excellence when they established their bourbon recipe in 1869. However, the Wild Turkey brand itself wasn’t established un 1942.
Wild Turkey says that the brand was named when the president of the current brand, Austin Nicholls, went turkey hunting with some friends. He took with him an 8-year old bourbon which boasted 101 proof.
On their next hunting trip, Mr. Nicholls’ friends requested that he bring his ‘wild turkey whiskey’ along with him, and just like that, a brand was established. In the beginning, the whiskey was made and sold under the Austin Nicholls Co. label, while Wild Turkey was imported from several distilleries, including Ripy Brother’s Distillery.
In 1954, the Anderson County Distilling Co. became the sole manufacturer of bourbon for the Austin Nicholls Co, hiring James Russell as its still room worker. By 1967, Russell became Master Distiller of the distillery and was the first Wild Turkey Master Distiller when Anderson County Distilling Co. was purchased by Austin Nicholls.
Throughout the next several decades, ownership of the brand would experience ownership changes, distillery changes, and the addition of Russell’s son to the ranks of distillation. Finally, in 2011, a new Wild Turkey Distillery opened its doors on Wild Turkey Hill.
Since that time, Wild Turkey has grown both domestically and internationally, releasing 11 various bourbons and rye whiskeys. These include their 81 and 101 proof offerings, as well as Wild Turkey Rare Breed, and American Honey Liqueur.
Add to the list Kentucky Spirit Bourbon, Russell’s Reserve bourbon, the Master’s Keep series, and the newly introduced Longbranch bourbon, and you’re boasting quite the lineup.
Wild Turkey Longbranch
Longbranch was released in early 2018 as the most recent addition to the Wild Turkey lineup. This bourbon is a culmination of a 24-month collaboration between Matthew McConaughey and Master Distiller Eddie Russell.
This offering from Wild Turkey is a Kentucky Straight bourbon, which is initially oak-filtered, and then refined through Texas Mesquite charcoal. As far as the name is concerned, Wild Turkey released this statement from McConaughey:
“Longbranch, in its simplest form, is an extended hand, inviting a friend into your family. So the branch that was extended to me from the Russells was a long one, one that reached from Kentucky to Texas and back again. I offered the Mesquite from my great state to add to their legendary Kentucky whiskey, and together we made Longbranch.”
Based on the information available on Wild Turkey’s site, you can expect a plentiful portion of 8-year old bourbon to be part of the recipe.
You’ll notice an undeniably traditional Wild Turkey nose when you open a bottle of Longbranch. Aromas of nutty caramel, hefty vanilla, a hint of cherries, orange peel, and just a touch of charred oak.
Longbranch has a light palate that’s not too watery. First, you’ll not get a soft hint of honey-roasted nuts, along with a wave of earthy rye spices. This moves on to a deep and flavor-filled caramel, along with sweet stone fruit, peppery charred oak, and a splash of smoke and dark chocolate.
A touch of spice leftover from the palate is accompanied by a nutty caramel flavor. Charred oaks and earthy ryes leave you with an aftertaste of barrel char and rye.
A Bourbon for Everyone
Wild Turkey has developed and delivered a bourbon that successfully joins its 81 proof release and its classic 101 offering. Longbranch is an easy bourbon to drink, and you’ll notice all the traditional flavors that make Wild Turkey the popular brand it is today.
Longbranch has a little more kick than Wild Turkey’s 81 offerings; however, it tastes amazing considering it’s a double-filtered 86 proof bourbon. It’s not a life-changing Wild Turkey bourbon. However, it does fall neatly within the classification of premium entry-level and entry-level plus.
This bourbon from Wild Turkey resides neatly above the most basic options while providing an insight into what the premium choices have to offer with their fancy bottles, flavorful nuances, and delectable oak finishes.
As opposed to being yet another bourbon aimed at those new to the market, or those who prefer a low proof, Wild Turkey has created a drink that will appeal to those who reside in between. As a result, Longbranch has an allure to a wide range of bourbon drinkers.
Longbranch is well-balanced in regards to flavor. One flavor, however, that has left many shaking their heads in question is mesquite. However, there is a misconception associated when it comes to involving mesquite in bourbon.
When it comes to smoking some ribs or brisket, then it makes sense to want some mesquite flavor in your meet. But in your bourbon? Has Wild Turkey lots its collective mind? Not at all. The reality is that there is a significant difference in using mesquite chips to flavor your food and using mesquite charcoal to add some flavor to your bourbon.
Just like other whiskeys and bourbons which use charcoal filtration, Longbranch doesn’t have strong notes of charcoal. This is due either to the notes aligning perfectly with the traditional flavor of Wild Turkey or that using charcoal to filter whiskey doesn’t add any obvious flavor. Instead, it just removes unpleasant tastes from the aged bourbon, which has gone through its filtration process.
With Longbranch, it’s evident that the mesquite was used to add a Texan touch to the final Wild Turkey product. However, this is because it adds purpose to the filtration process, not flavor to the finished result.
That doesn’t mean the use of charcoal didn’t make a difference to the Longbranch product. It makes the finished product enjoyable, improves the overall taste, doesn’t carry any burn, and doesn’t add any flavor. It polishes up the finished result quite nicely.
Longbranch is an excellent example of why more collaborations are needed in the current bourbon market. While distilleries continue to pump out the same great products using the same traditional processes, they are doing so at the cost of innovation and creativity in the industry.
Creating something different and delicious might be just what your brand needs to give you the edge when it comes to your share of the market. When it comes to innovation in its industry, Wild Turkey ranks among the top performers.
The manufacturer has moved from producing only its 101 proof bourbon to also distributing rye whiskey. This included its first bourbon liqueur to hit the market. Wild Turkey has also extended out its permanent offerings to include Russell’s reserve.
Wild Turkey also offers limited edition single-barrel whiskeys, bourbon, and rye at lower proofs, and its always popular Master’s Keep series. The Longbranch collaboration only shows that Wild Turkey is taking the necessary steps to fill any gaps in its portfolio.
We live in a time when people are starting to drink whiskey, and by doing so are considered novice drinkers. As a result, Wild Turkey is doing its part by creating a bourbon that is targeted directly at this demographic.
Longbranch is an excellent gateway to greater things in the world of bourbon. Hopefully, this step is just one of the first taken by the industry in the journey toward more collaboration and creativity. The bourbon market needs more collaborations like the one between Russell and McConaughey to stir up and move purists.
The intention should be to draw in new blood and novice drinkers without reducing the soul of the market and hurting the great reputation associated with prolific distilleries throughout the country.
The last thing we’ll talk about is the bottle. It’s a very cool looking bottle and anyone who appreciates Wild Turkey will tell you that typical bottles are overt and not at all minimalistic. Wild Turkey likes attractive labels that offer plenty of information about their brand.
Longbranch, however, does all that but does so in a striking and simple fashion. The bottle takes on an imposing style with its tombstone design. It has a sleek and modern look and feels, with small labels on the front and back that don’t hide the color of the bourbon.
The glass is etched with only three statements: “Small Batch,” “Aged in American Oak,” and “Expertly Crafted.” It is elegant, simple, and to the point. It gives off the impression that the bottle itself was made specifically for the bourbon contained within.
Even after the contents within the bottle are gone, you’ll want to keep this cool looking container around. You might even be able to use it as a decanter if you happen to break a bottle or the cork breaks at some point in time.
Longbranch is a quality bourbon that represents creativity and innovation. It tastes like a bourbon that Wild Turkey put a lot of thought and effort into, and hopefully results in more creative partnerships like the one employed by McConaughey and the Russells.
Longbranch consists of an eight-year-old bourbon from Wild Turkey. Its mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 10% malted barley. It is distilled through the process of two charcoal filtration processes.
The first is through the use of charcoal from American White Oak, while the second uses charcoal of Texas Mesquite. Longbranch offers a 750mL bottle at 86 proof.
Of course, not everyone is going to feel the same about Wild Turkey’s Longbranch offering, so here are a few alternative drinks if you want to explore other options:
Four Roses Original
Formerly known as the Four Roses Yellow Label, Four Roses Original is a popular bourbon, which has been aged in oak barrels for five years. It is carefully blended and consistently provides a creamy, smooth flavor.
This high-quality bourbon from Buffalo Trace is a 10-year-old whiskey that offers a delicious woody and fragrant taste. Many say that Eagle Rare is one of the best bourbons available in its price range.
Wyoming Whiskey is the perfect drink for your dude ranch. This small-batch bourbon is bottle at 88 proof and lures you in with apple, sweet grain, and oak flavors. You’ll want more when you taste the hints of banana’s foster and cherry that are part of the oily, lush palate of every bottle.
Evan Williams Bonded
This flavorful and smooth bourbon isn’t going to wow you but is still an appealing whiskey with plenty of value. It’s sweet yet versatile enough that it has appeal to the masses and is perfect for mixing in cocktails.
Should You Try a Bottle of Wild Turkey Longbranch?
The honest truth is that it’s difficult to find a reason why anyone wouldn’t want to own a bottle of Longbranch bourbon. It’s smooth, delicious, and offers just the right blends to make this an appealing drink to novice users who are just getting started in the world of bourbon.
With its low bottle proof and traditional Wild Turkey taste, it’s the perfect bourbon to serve as a gateway into what the whiskey community has to offer. Of course, having Matthew McConaughey involved doesn’t hurt either.
With its appealing bourbon and celebrity partnership, Wild Turkey’s Longbranch is sure to allow the brand to reach those new to the market while remaining relevant among already existing drinkers. If Wild Turkey continues in this direction, we’re almost assured of having our favorite bourbon for the foreseeable future and beyond.