By Richard Thomas
In addition to honey and fruit flavors, the third major twist in the flavored whiskey game is spiced whiskey. The thing is that “spiced whiskey” could mean just about anything, so what you get depends very much on the brand.
So it is with Wild Turkey Spiced, introduced last year. The label tells us only that it’s bourbon and it’s spiced, and not much else. That lack of definition is something that carries off the label and into the bottle.
Wild Turkey is bottled at 86 proof (43% abv), which is interesting. A lot of the flavored bourbon on the market are made from cheap, young stuff that doesn’t even qualify for the “straight” category, so they weigh in at the lowest proof (80) and rely on the flavoring to make up the difference. Wild Turkey Spiced is a straight bourbon, and has a proof a little higher than that of the entry-rung Wild Turkey 81. So as flavored whiskeys go, this stuff bucks the bare bones trend for sure.
The color shows that good bourbon base too. It’s squarely within bourbon territory, being light to middle amber. The nose is where we start to show a divergent streak, as it is thick with vanilla, stepping into vanilla ice cream territory. The palate jinks back towards something more bourbonesque, perhaps like a vanilla cookie soaked in it. The vanilla aspect is dominating, with notes of cinnamon and cloves, plus a little toasty wood for good measure. The finish is warm, but otherwise undistinguished.
The main problem I had with Wild Turkey Spiced is that the main spice was vanilla bean. Better to just call it vanilla bourbon and be done with it, but the thing is that vanilla is a key flavor of bourbon already. Wild Turkey Spiced is OK, but unless you wanted a whiskey with a heavy infusion of vanilla for a cocktail or mixer, I don’t see why I would reach for this instead of a regular bourbon. In other words, if you favor Vanilla Coke over regular Coke, this is the flavored bourbon for you.
Wild Turkey Spiced is priced fairly reasonably and in tune with the standards of the Wild Turkey range at $23.