The New Master's Keep
The second release in the Master's Keep series, the Wild Turkey "Decades" is a marriage of casks aged between 10 to 20 years that, in my opinion, is a huge step up from the previous 17 year old release for a number of reasons. The first: it's bottled at a higher 52% ABV that really adds lift and vigor to the richness and spice of the whiskey. Whereas the 17 year was quite mellow and soft having been aged in a brick warehouse off-site, the Decades is bold and quite lively. Second reason: whereas the 17 year was a marriage of similar casks, the Decades is a marriage of whiskies between 10 - 20 years old, carefully constructed so that the best parts of each barrel highlight one another. Think of this as Wild Turkey's version of the Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition - mature casks, blended with skill to create a whiskey greater than the simple sum of its components. Everything about the Decades tastes fantastic. There's plenty of sweetness, a roundness of fruit, loads of baking spices like clove and cinnamon, and a bold, mouthwatering finish. There's no need to add water, but you can if you like. Perhaps the whiskey's greatest strength is its immediate accessibility and gorgeous bottle, making it the perfect gift for any Bourbon lover. As someone who's tried pretty much every Bourbon in the book, I'm planning on adding the Decades to my collection. But I can just as easily imagine the casual whiskey drinker being absolutely wowed by this.
As my collegue David Othenin-Girard pointed out to me, who visited the distillery recently and spoke with the Russells about the project: the Decades was originally going to be a blend of 20 and 15 year old - as these old stocks had been located at some offsite warehouses. Campari only managed to digitize their whisky inventory in 2010 and experimental batches where hidden all over Kentucky. The original blend would have been made up of these old casks but for the protests of Mr. Jimmy Russell. He likes his whisky at 10 years old and felt the older stocks lack the distinctive flavor profile he expected from his bourbon. So they added a bit of 10 year (apparently about as much 10 as 20), but most of the blend is 14-16 year old whiskies.
In any case, it's here and it's pretty darn good.