Gruppo Campari’s Wild Turkey® Bourbon has searched the length of the country for its annual UK Cocktail Competition; seeking out the best whiskey bartender to be judged at the final on the 27th of August at the recently opened bar, Cane and Grain in Manchester. The finalists will be competing not only for the 2014 Title but for a transatlantic trip to the home of Bourbon – Kentucky.
The winner, plus 2 runners up, will win an exclusive trip to Kentucky to discover the recently opened Wild Turkey Visitor Centre, indulge in a VIP tour and special tasting, before wrapping up with a night in New York City checking out all the best bourbon bars.
Last years winner Henry Yates won the competition unanimously with his cocktail named ‘The Right to Freeze Peach’ which was voted for by judges Simon Difford of Diffordsguide.com, Martin Taylor of Wild Turkey, and Hugo Mills, previously of Gruppo Campari.
Speaking about his creation, Henry said, “My inspiration for the peach, ice tea and mint cocktail originated from Wild Turkey country. I wanted to create a cocktail with ingredients which are readily available, as an introduction to Bourbon.”
To make last years winning Wild Turkey cocktail ‘The Right to Freeze Peach’ by Henry Yates, you will need;
50ml Wild Turkey 81 10ml Crème de peche 20ml Peach syrup (canned) 10ml Lemon juice 100ml Iced black tea (Chinese) 6 drops of Grapefruit bitters
Shake over ice, strain and serve in an empty peach tin can with a sprig of mint and garnish with a Wild Turkey 101 atomised peach slice.
Details of this years finalists who will be competing for Henry’s title are as below:
Gruppo Campari’s Wild Turkey Bourbon has announced the winner of it’s first UK Cocktail Competition held at the The Liquorists HQ in Manchester.
Henry Yates of Boilermaker in Nottingham clinched the top prize after competing with 10 of the best bartenders from across the UK in an exciting and heated battle to be crowned Wild Turkey Cocktail Champion 2013. Henry’s unanimous winning cocktail named ‘The Right to Freeze Peach’ voted by judges Simon Difford of Diffordsguide.com, Martin Taylor of Wild Turkey, and Hugo Mills of Gruppo Campari demonstrated passion, talent and an understanding of the kind of patience, outstanding attention to detail and craftsmanship that goes in to creating the perfect Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey cocktail.
Henry said of his creation “My inspiration for the peach, ice tea and mint cocktail originated from Wild Turkey country. I wanted to create a cocktail with ingredients which are readily available, as an introduction to Bourbon.” ‘The Right to Freeze Peach’ flavours were perfectly designed to compliment Wild Turkey 81 reflecting on it’s laid back nature. Henry added ” I am genuinely ecstatic about winning, the standard of talent was so high I can’t believe I am the Wild Turkey cocktail Champion.”
The 2 runners up Will Cox of Bon Vivant in Edinburgh and Michael Presley Sharpe of Milk Thistle in Bristol delivered their cocktails ‘Stuffed Turkey’ and ‘Feather of the Foul’ with flair and passion, worthy of a national final of this calibre. All three will now head to Kentucky on an all expenses paid trip visiting the Wild Turkey distillery, meeting Master Distiller Jimmy Russell and Associate Master Distiller Eddie Russell and attending the annual National Bourbon Festival. In addition, Henry will be presented with a bottle of Wild Turkey Forgiven, a high-end bourbon and rye blend signed by father and son Jimmy and Eddie.
The competition, which launched in July to seek out the best whiskey bartender in the country, received hundreds of entries from right across the UK. With entrants competing in exciting regional heats, taking place in the 5 host cities (Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol and London), 11 of the best cocktail makers were selected to go head to head in the national final on 2nd September.
The contestants were asked to make two drinks, a signature cocktail of their choice as well as a twist on a classic cocktail. Contestants were given 5 minutes preparation time followed by a maximum of 10 minutes to make, perfect and present their creations to the judges.
To Make ‘The Right to Freeze Peach‘ by Henry Yates , the Wild Turkey Cocktail Champion’s signature cocktail, you will need;
50ml Wild Turkey 81
10ml Crème de peche
20ml Peach syrup (canned)
10ml Lemon juice
100ml Iced black tea (Chinese)
6 drops of Grapefruit bitters
Shake over ice, strain and serve in an empty peach tin can with a sprig of mint and garnish with a Wild Turkey 101 atomised peach slice.
Eddie Russell launched the competition during his whirlwind tour of the UK in July, which saw him travel from the Wild Turkey distillery in Kentucky to present master classes in six cities across the country.
Christophe Schaillee, Regional Director Europe at Campari International, said, “It was a wonderful opportunity to have Eddie Russell launching the first ever UK Wild Turkey Cocktail competition and at the same time host the master Bourbon classes. Wild Turkey is very respected by bartenders and is becoming very fashionable with consumers, and this is a great occasion for audiences to know and appreciate the brand even more. We are very proud of our product and these events are the best way to show the uniqueness and versatility of Wild Turkey.”
The national finalists were;
· Rosie Paterson of Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh and Will Cox of Bon Vivant, Edinburgh, winners of the Glasgow heat at Luac Bar
· Michael Sharper of Milk Thistle, winner of the Bristol heats at Haus Bar
· Benji Purslow of Archer Street and Nicholas Quattroville of Social Eating House, winners of the London heats which took place in The Hawksmoor
· Ed Belshaw of World Service Restaurant & Lounge Bar, Henry Yates from Boilermaker and Lucy Jane Horncastle of The Victoria, Birmingham who won the heats at Nottingham’s Brass Monkey
· Laurie Eaton of Berry & Rye, Liverpool ,Tim Laferla of Mr Coopers House & Garden and Jamie Jones of The Liquorists who won the Manchester heat, judged at Manchester’s Dusk til Pawn
It’s not often you get to have lunch with a Master Distiller, especially one who has never even visited the UK before. But that’s exactly what happened today when Eddie Russell of Wild Turkey came to Manchester’s Room Restaurant and Cocktail Bar to talk about his and his fathers, Jimmy Russell, creations.
With bartenders coming from some of Manchester’s finest including Australasia, Simple, The Living Room and The Liquorists, ex Manchester based Martin Taylor (of Black Dog Ballroom, Corridor and Fluid Bars fame) who is the UK Wild Turkey Brand Ambassador, introduced Eddie and his fascinating insight into a brand that many of us know of in some way or form. I myself didn’t know too much about the name, although I’ve had many a dram of it’s two main expressions, so with my new-found knowledge and initial research, let’s take a look into the Bird –
The brand can start its history way back in 1869 when the Ripy brothers opened their family distillery on Wild Turkey Hill in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Initial interest of the distillery came from the Ripy brothers representing Kentucky at the 1893 World’s Fair, but with the beginning of Prohibition in the US in 1919, the distillery closed until 1933. In 1940 though, Thomas McCarthy, a distillery executive, brought some of his whiskey with him on a wild turkey hunt and shared it amongst friends. It’s said that they enjoyed it so much that they requested he bring some more ‘Wild Turkey’ bourbon on the next hunt. 1954 saw Master Distiller Jimmy Russell (Eddie’s father) join the company, and in 1980, Eddie himself started to work in all parts of the distillery process and bottling, eventually rising to his current role as the associate master distiller. Before Eddie joined though, 1971 saw the Ripy brothers bought out by Austin Nichols Distilling Company, who were subsequently acquired by Pernod Ricard in 1980. Now though, its name is under the Campari Group who purchased the brand back in 2009.
It’s hard to believe that Jimmy and Eddie Russell have a combined 93 years of loyal service in producing Wild Turkey, even more so when Eddie reveals that his father still works at the distillery every day, producing their 15 strong portfolio. It would also be common to see him chatting to other industry distillers like Booker Noe of Jim Beam and Elmer T. Lee of Buffalo Trace (who has very unfortunately passed away this past week) over a dram of his favourite – Wild Turkey 101. But how does Jimmy and Eddie create their biggest seller?
It begins with the selection of sweet corn, rye, and barley malt for distilling, and then using water that comes straight from the Kentucky River to cook the grains during the mashing and malting stage. Once the malted barley gets tossed in, sour mash is added to start the fermentation process. During this process, the yeast turns the starch into sugar. The yeast strain used is the same from the very beginning, and kept in various places (including Eddie’s fridge and even another state in case the power goes and warms the strain, rendering it useless) and is added to the corn, rye, and malt to create the yeast mash. Once the fermentation has finished, the liquid mash is pumped into a continuous still where it is heated so the alcohol can disperse from the mash, rise up the still and into a condenser where it forms back into a liquid.
After distillation, the spirit is poured into new #4 alligator char, white oak barrels and then stored for aging. The whiskey is tasted annually after two years until ready to be drawn from the cask (Wild Turkey age there whiskey longer than most distilleries). Once Jimmy and Eddie believe that the Wild Turkey is ready, the bourbon is poured through a filtration system and into a bottling machine.
The UK only have three of their fifteen strong portfolio available, but two of them have been created by Eddie Russell himself, and their 101 has been a mainstay since the beginning. But how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Wild Turkey 81 – 40.5%
Introduced in 2011 and has aged bourbon of 6-8 years. A nose that begins rather light, but develops aromas of vanilla and caramel to have a rich finish. Smooth on the palate with a velvet texture despite lots of wood flavours. A slow spice and vanilla finish that’s long and mouth-watering.
Wild Turkey 101– 50.5%
A marriage of primarily 6, 7 and 8-year-old bourbon. Aromas of light wood with lingering notes of caramel and vanilla on the nose. A sharp slice of spice and the vanilla at the beginning of the palate, with the spice developing a warmth that freshens and lingers for a long finish.
Wild Turkey American Honey– 35.5%
Introduced in 2006 and is a blend of pure honey and 4-year-old Wild Turkey. Soft and light on the nose with a lingering scent of honey and sweetness. Almost aromatic. Soft again on the palate, with the sweetness carrying on to oak and vanilla flavours. A great blend of flavours that leaves a fresh aromatic experience.
A fantastic range, with the 101 your traditional sipping bourbon, the 81 introduced by Eddie for the cocktail mixer crowd, and the American Honey to introduce non-bourbon drinkers to the American spirit. As mentioned, the 81 would go great with one of these –
Stir all of your ingredients with ice in a mixing glass until well chilled. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an olive and a lemon twist.
Wild Turkey is a growing brand, with Australia and Japan huge fans of the brand (Eddie and Jimmy once spent 45 minutes signing items on their first visit to Japan, and they had only just left their car!), but the UK is seeing more awareness in the name, especially within the bars as they compete in Wild Turkey’s first ever cocktail competition. If you’re in cities including London, Bristol, Edinburgh and of course Manchester, expect many a bartender to try out their creations on you all as they try to win themselves a prize to the Wild Turkey Distillery!
A brand that is worth gracing your drinks cabinet, and a name that covers all aspects of bourbon drinkers too. What more could you ask?!
* A special thanks to Martin Taylor for allowing me the time to come along and meet Eddie Russell in person.
Gruppo Campari’s Wild Turkey has won two prestigious awards at the 2013 International Spirits Challenge. The new kid on the block, Wild Turkey 81 Kentucky Straight Bourbon won the accolade of Gold – Best in Class, while the original Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Bourbon was presented with Silver. These wins for Wild Turkey 81 and 101 follow the announcement of Wild Turkey American Honey’s Silver award at the ISC earlier this year.
Wild Turkey 81 is a blend of 6-8 year old bourbons, making it older than most of its competitors in the category. Deep amber in colour, with a rich nose of vanilla, oak and hint of orange and toffee, and a palate exploding with honey, brown sugar and tobacco, Wild Turkey 81 delivers a long and smooth finish making this bourbon perfect enjoyed with ice and coke. The flagship bourbon from the brand, Wild Turkey 101 is a unique marriage of 6, 8 and 12 year old bourbons. This long, rich and full bodied bourbon is best served neat or over ice or in a classic cocktail such as a Manhattan. Strong flavours, true of American bourbon, shine through with caramel and vanilla, and notes of honey and orange. Both variants feature the famed Wild Turkey high-rye mash, delivering a spicy kick synonymous with the brand.
Masterfully crafted in original Bourbon country, Kentucky, USA, Wild Turkey 81 and 101 are products of the passion of Master Distiller Jimmy Russell and his son, Associate Master Distiller Eddie Russell.
The ISC, widely regarded as one of the most authoritative, respected and influential competitions in the world, conducts a series of scrupulous blind tastings over a period of 7 days. The panel of judges consists of 50 of the industry’s most respected and experienced professionals, who award scores based on aroma, appearance, taste and finish.
With over 1,000 entries from almost 70 countries worldwide, these wins are a celebration of Wild Turkey’s authentic Kentucky heritage and are testament to the commitment and extraordinary knowledge, passion and skill of the team behind Wild Turkey. Christophe Schaillee, Regional Director Europe for Gruppo Campari said “It is an incredible honour to have both Wild Turkey 81 and Wild Turkey 101 receive awards at this most prestigious international celebration of sprits. We work hard to ensure our products are unique and created with the utmost attention to detail and craftsmanship. We are very proud of our product and of course these wins are the perfect way to toast the achievements of all involved in making the Wild Turkey brand a success.”
Wild Turkey 81 (40.5% ABV) and Wild Turkey 101 (50.5% ABV) are products of the Wild Turkey Distillery, which is owned by Gruppo Campari. Wild Turkey 81 is available at select Tesco stores across the UK, RRP £22.99. Wild Turkey 101 is available online from specialist drinks retailers including http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com and http://www.thedrinkshop.com.