Wild Turkey’s Private Barrel programme gives private clients full control of their preferred whiskey profile

While buying spirit by the barrel isn’t a new practice in the industry, the customer profile has changed over the years—today, it is individual customers who are fuelling the boom in the purchasing of whole casks. Wild Turkey, a Kentucky bourbon producer with roots in the mid-1800s, had already begun selling a few casks in the early 2000s, but formalised its main Private Barrel programme in 2013. Now, its dedicated APAC program offers unique options from dedicated unicorn barrels, with different taste profiles for the buyers to choose from. To find out more, Tatler chats with Wild Turkey’s master distiller Eddie Russell, son of distilling legend Jimmy Russell and a member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

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Wild Turkey distillery
Above Wild Turkey distillery
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Preparing the casks for the bourbon
Above Preparing the casks for the bourbon

Bourbon has been booming since the 1990s. What do you think is driving this trend in Asia and globally?

Eddie Russell (ER): Asia has always had refined tastes for whiskies. Throughout the world, the bartending community is bringing back very traditional bourbon‑based cocktails, such as the Old Fashioned.

Bourbon already has a strong collector base. What makes private bottlings so distinctive and exciting?

ER: All private barrels have different profiles, giving consumers a broad range of unique flavours as well as a chance to taste and collect different tasting bottles. They are limited by how many bottles each barrel yields, which increases their rarity and subsequent value.

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Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit
Above Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit

What makes these barrels different from the original Kentucky Spirit single barrels?

ER: The private barrels are unique in [that they have] different taste profiles. I wanted a big variety of flavours when I started the programme in 2013. I wanted to show how different they could be [despite] having only one recipe and one yeast. I was amazed. Some barrels can be filled on the same day from the same tank and taste totally different after eight to 10 years.

How do you see the value growth of these private barrels over time?

ER: These are very collectable. They give each store or bar a taste that no one else can have. They are true single barrels that taste different from other barrels.

How do you see the future of this programme at Wild Turkey?

ER: The programme helps me to react to each market with what is relevant at the time of release; the Asian market might be looking for different profiles than what another country or the US is looking for. I think we have a very diverse range now, from very smooth and favourable to the big and bold bourbon that Wild Turkey is known for.

For enquiries, contact Rémy Cointreau, the official distributor for Wild Turkey in Singapore, at 9738 5630 or andrew.law@remy-cointreau.com; Metabev, the official distributor for Wild Turkey in Hong Kong, at 2639 3888 or cindyc@meta-bev.com. 

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