How To: Host a Wild Turkey Tasting Party

Host a Wild Turkey Tasting Party

American whiskeys tend to get an undeservedly bad rap from Scotch whisky snobs. Prove haters wrong by inviting them over for an American bourbon tasting with your favorite Wild Turkey varieties. 

Step 1 Choose Your Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskeys

The best part of having a tasting is getting to drink great spirits. Wild Turkey is known for its unique "kick"—there's a reason why it was Hunter S. Thompson's drink of choice. Let's take a look at a few great choices:

  • The original 101 proof bourbon whiskey. Unlike its competitors, Wild Turkey makes this whiskey the old-fashioned way. It's distilled at a lower proof, with very little water added. Declared the "Clint Eastwood of whiskeys", the spirit is full of flavor, with hints of vanilla spices.
  • The Rare Breed is what's known as a "barrel-proof" bourbon. It's blended from 6, 8, and 12 year old stocks straight from the barrel. It's very robust, oaky, and surprisingly smooth. If you want to enjoy it like Jimmy Russell, stash a bottle in the freezer so you can enjoy the undiluted taste.
  • Russell's Reserve 10 year is a special treat that honors the Russell family's love of bourbon. This is a small batch that's rich in flavor and spice. 
  • Use Wild Turkey 81 for cocktails. It's the distillery's newest creation, from distiller Eddie Russell (son of Jimmy), who recognized a niche market for a strong spirit that would mix well for drinks. So if you're in the mood for a whiskey and Coke, Manhattan, or mint julep, start with this.

Step 2 Set a Date & Invite Your Friends

Make it a weekend date. Saturday evenings are usually the best. You may end up with guests who get too drunk to drive home, so you'll have to plan for a few crashers. Keep your party intimate, with a maximum of 7-8 guests. Any more, and fights might break out... ;)


  • Make no mistake—whiskey's not a hobby for the faint-of-wallet. Spread out the pain by assigning whiskeys to your invitees.
  • Invite your female friends as well. They love whiskey, too!

Step 3 Mix Up Some Great Bourbon Cocktails

As I mentioned above, the Wild Turkey 81 was created especially for cocktails. You can use this bourbon to make some great classic American cocktails. In the gallery below: the mint julep and the Manhattan.

Step 4 Feed Your Guests

Without food to tide your guests over, everyone will be knocked out. For cuisine that stands up to bourbon whiskeys, think simple and manly. In keeping with the American Southern tradition, I prefer to make ribs—juicy, tender ribs, preferably with lots and lots of sauce. In the gallery below, two recipes for "Fall off the Bones BBQ Ribs" and ribs, St. Louis style.

Step 5 Happy Drinking!

There's nothing more to a tasting party other than drinking up and enjoying yourselves. To get the most out of each bottle, pour once from each bottle, at different intervals. Talk to your guests about your favorite pours, what you did and didn't like about each one, and savor the flavors.

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Photo by charmingman

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