The first Wild Turkey Master’s Keep release was a hardly an accurate representation of the distillery’s more recent overarching profile. Its age was the highest of any Wild Turkey product at the time, was under 90 proof despite being bottled at cask strength, and the pour itself was generally mild in nature. Whether these aspects resulted in a better or worse product is up for debate.
This inevitably brings us to the topic of today’s review: Decades, the second Master’s Keep release. Meant to celebrate Eddie Russell’s 35th anniversary of working for the distillery, Decades is comprised of barrels “chosen from the center and upper floors of Wild Turkey’s McBrayer rickhouse” aged 10-20 years, bottled at 104 proof, and non-chill filtered. Unlike its predecessor, Decades was released in two batches. The bottle I have is from batch 1.
Nose: Tried-and-true Turkey; seasoned oak, nutmeg, cherry, black pepper, and brown sugars. Brown butter and orange peel. English toffee candy offset by a broad, warm spiciness. Post-sip brings a luscious caramel note that begins to tread into butterscotch territory, along with chocolate and nut butter—Toblerone.
Palate: Spicy and syrupy. Caramel, pepper spice, and charred oak. Cherry comes in with that drying oak and toasty orange spice. Begins a powerplay of sweets and spices that carries into the finish.
Finish: Starts medium but gets long and robust with successive sipping. Caramel/toffee, cinnamon spice, oak, and rich tobacco. Some slow-developing nuttiness to mimic the nose.
Now there’s the Wild Turkey I’m familiar with! Decades comes in swinging with a strong baking spice (emphasis on the “spice”) personality quickly joined by sweetness. What ensues feels like a powerplay between spices and sweets that becomes more engaging as it sits. You can think of Decades like a metal concert where the headlining band break up the set by having a fun shred-off. Even if those moments aren’t typically your thing, it’s tough to not at least feel entertained by it.
Analogy aside, I think the best way to describe Decades is the perfect premium pour for 101 bourbon‘s biggest fans. Those who enjoy the bold personality that gradually gives way to sweeter flavors will find that and so much more here. One of the things I adore about Decades is how it develops with each sip. The layers become more apparent, the sweet flavors build into a wonderful richness, the finish grows with a combination of spice and tannins to keep that richness in check, I could go on. It won’t be to everyone’s liking, since those notes can come across as rather hot, but something tells me that’ll be negligible for most Wild Turkey fans. If you got something of a cold shoulder from the original Master’s Keep, rest assured that Decades will keep you plenty warm.