Campari Group, the owners of Wild Turkey, last year started their whiskey barons series, releasing pint sized bottles of bourbon with pre-prohibition brand names. Hokus Pokus has has these, and while I have no problem shelling out $100 for a good bottle of bourbon, $50 for a pint was somehow a problem for me mentally. Yes, these bottles are 375 milliliters. I frankly hadn’t bought a pint of anything since high school, except for Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project bottles.
That and I had read reviews of Old Ripy and Bond & Lilliard that had been less than stellar, and I knew this was Wild Turkey juice which can be great but sometimes isn’t. But, the other day, I was at Hokus to taste samples of possible Knob Creek barrel picks, and some of the guys that took part in the tasting swore that W.B. Saffell was as good as the Russell’s Reserve Vintage 2002 bourbon. That was a practical double dog dare for me to buy a bottle. So I did.
A point of interest-it is 107 proof. While this is an odd numbered proof, 107 used to be the typical cask strength proof. Instead of being barreled at a typical 125 proof that is used today, the limit before prohibition and until 1962 was 110 proof and often whiskey was barreled at 100 proof or so which would rise over time to 107. 107 is old school barrel proof. It is still used today by Buffalo Trace in Weller Antique, Old Rip Van Winkle and Pappy 15, and by Jim Beam in Baker’s.
Wild Turkey continued to barrel at 105 proof after many distillers went to 125. They recently increased the barrel proof a bit to around 115, which is why Rare Breed releases increased in proof a bit since 2015.
Saffell is reportedly a blend of 6 to 12 year old bourbons, and non chill filtered. As I have written before, chill filtering does tremendous damage to the flavor of the amazing bourbons Wild Turkey makes. The non-chill filtered releases are some of the best bourbons out there.
Color is a beautiful Amber with gold flecks. Nice film and legs on the swirl. The nose is very traditional bourbon but with fruit notes and baking spice. Very mouth watering. On the palate, there are light vanilla and brown sugar notes, followed by heavy notes of peaches, apples and cinnamon that linger on into the finish. Hints of leather, oak and Peychaud bitters in the background. Great mouthfeel and an amazing finish.
This is really a delicious bourbon. Lots of great layers of flavor, and yes, it does remind me of the Russell’s Reserve Vintage 2002, except instead of grapefruit you have peach and apple.
I definitely recommend this one, and $50 is definitely worth a pint of this delicious bourbon. And maybe 375ml bottles of great limited release bourbon are the new thing, and maybe that is good because more people get to buy a bottle of the good stuff.