By S.D. Peters
This bourbon/rye hybrid from Jimmy and Eddie Russell first appeared in 2013. It’s success then ensured it’s comeback in October 2014. Originally the result of a “happy accident” in which a small batch bourbon found its way into a batch of high-proof rye, Forgiven appears to have lived-up to its name.
Forgiven comes in a Nouveau-curved bottle that is similar in appearance to Wild Turkey Rare Breed, although this breed of WT is rarer still, and comes individually numbered. (My bottle is #302.) Like all Wild Turkey product, it has a cork stopper.
The blend of bourbon (six years) and rye (4 years) is 78% and 22%. For rye drinkers, that may not look on paper like enough rye in a product that’s touted as a hybrid, but the quality of that rye lends double that percentage in flavor.
The bell-like body of the bottle nicely exhibits the whiskey’s russet-copper. In the glass, tree bark, tobacco, and leathery peppercorn fill-out an otherwise standard nose of salted caramel.
At 91 Proof (45%ABV), Forgiven may be less bold than Wild Turkey’s standard 101 Bourbon, but the presence of the high-proof rye recalls the company’s now-discontinued 101 Rye in its flavor. The pepper-encrusted bitter chocolate and black raspberry richness of the classic 101 Rye top a sun-warmed praline, chased by a dash of allspice. The finish has a warm, lingering, and mildly sweet caramel character, sprinkled with pepper and suffused with new leather and wild berries. All-in-all, it offers the best of both worlds for Bourbon and Rye drinkers, though neither will be likely to rate it over their favorite straight version.
Wild Turkey Forgiven is a limited edition bottling, and is priced accordingly at $50 for a 750ml bottle.