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Wild Turkey's Gaffe Proves Serendipitous

Jack Bettridge
Posted: September 13, 2013

Wild Turkey makes few mistakes, but in the case of Forgiven, its latest limited-release whiskey, we're glad the renowned Bourbon and rye distillery made an error.

The whiskey takes its name from the unplanned circumstances of its conception. Distillery workers mistakenly mixed a batch of six-year-old Bourbon with four-year-old rye. Associate master distiller Eddie Russell was at first angry and resigned to writing off the 10,000 gallons of spirit as an illegitimate birth—until he tasted it. Now all is forgiven.

Russell liked what he drank, and spent the next two-and-a-half years cajoling the company into releasing the whiskey as a one-off. Because it is made solely from straight whiskeys, it still must be called a blend. (Most blends are made by mixing straight whiskey, the product of new barrels, with whiskey from previously used barrels or from unaged spirit.)

When Russell brought the whiskey, which he describes as a meeting of the creamy vanilla of Bourbon with the pepper of rye, to a corporate meeting, he got the approval he sought. "The Australian marketing guys wanted all of it. But the Americans wanted some, too."

The end result was a limited release of 5,000 cases worldwide. Russell says that the whiskey blends 7,500 gallons of Bourbon with 2,500 of rye. Other than its honey-flavored whiskey, this is the first Wild Turkey blend in history, according to the distiller.

The small craft distiller High West created a similarly blended whiskey a few years ago on purpose, and Russell says he has been accused of making Forgiven by design as well. But he swears by the error. “I've still got the report,” he says.

The whiskey is a wild ride between flavor components, suitable for sipping, mixing and enjoying with a cigar. Here's hoping Wild Turkey screws up so enjoyably again.

Wild Turkey Forgiven (91 proof, or 45.5 alcohol by volume; no age statement; $49.99 a 750-milliliter bottle)

APPEARANCE: Deep copper with the slightest patina of green and lanky legs that stroll down the glass.

NOSE: A lush crossing of fruit, spice and cream. Just sweet enough to suggest exotic pectin treats, but including leather, wood and caramel, as well as notes of pepper.

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Comments   3 comment(s)

hanging chad September 15, 2013 7:46am ET

Are Forbidden and Forgiven one and the same animal?

JACK BETTRIDGE — NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES,  —  September 15, 2013 10:08am ET

Yes. Forgive me. It's Forgiven

hanging chad September 15, 2013 12:18pm ET

Thanks, Jack. Not only do I forgive you, but I forbid you as well...

Hit 'em long and straight.
And by all means, SMOKE'EM IF YA GOT'EM!

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