UK vs UKA – Glen Grant vs Wild Turkey (Tweet Tasting)

About Glen Grant Distillery

Glen Grant Distillery

It was in 1840 that the Glen Grant distillery was founded by brother John and James. The distillery
was in the perfect location to flourish with the sea and port of Garmouth nearby, the River Spey to the south and Speyside’s abundant barley fields. In 1872, the original founders died and were followed by James ‘The Major’ Grant. The Major was a man of innovation and new ideas – he was the first man to own a car in the Highlands, ensured that Glen Grant was first distillery to have an electric light and introduced the tall slender stills and purifiers that resulted in the Glen Grant we know today. In 1972, the Glenlivet and Glen Grant Ltd merged with Hill, Thomson & Co Ltd and Longmorn Distillers Ltd to form Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. The original families’ interest in the distilleries was maintained but was then supported by shareholders – including Suntory. In 2006, Glen Grant was acquired by Campari following the acquisition of Allied Domecq by Pernod Ricard.

About Wild Turkey Distillery

Wild Turkey Distillery

Wild Turkey can trace its heritage to 1855, when Austin Nichols started selling wine and spirits as a wholesale grocer. It is the business that would later own Wild Turkey. Fourteen years later, in 1869, the Ripy brothers open their family distillery on Wild Turkey Hill in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The
Ripy brothers sold bourbon to various wholesalers who bottled it under their own brands – Austin Nichols was one of those wholesalers. It would be fair to presume that this is where the distillery got its name, but it’s not. The name originated in 1940, when an Austin Nichols’ executive took a batch of bourbon from the warehouse out on a hunt with friends. Of course, they were hunting wild turkey. After that trip, his friends would constantly ask if they could get some of “that wild turkey bourbon”. In 1942, the first ever Wild Turkey bourbon was bottled. In 1971, Austin Nichols purchased the Ripy’s distillery and it was renamed Wild Turkey distillery.

Now it wouldn’t be an “About Wild Turkey” without mention of the Russells. Jimmy Russell and son Eddie are the only father and son master distillers in the world. As well as this, Jimmy is the world’s oldest master distiller at 82 years old and has been distilling for 63 years. Son Eddie joined his father at Wild Turkey in 1981 and worked his way up the ranks to earn the position of master distiller after 34 years.

The Tasting

Thanks to Steve at The Whisky Wire for organising this UK vs USA tasting! The pairings were Glen Grant 10 Year Old vs Wild Turkey 101, and Glen Grant 12 Year Old vs Wild Turkey Rye.

Glen Grant 10 Year Old

Matured in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at a modest 40% ABV.

Price: £30.34 (Master of Malt); £30.45 (The Whisky Exchange)

Appearance: Pale yellow, like straw, in colour.

Nose: The sweetness of pear drops and tropical pineapple, with just a hint of apple. This is met with fresh ginger. It is reminiscent of lemon cheesecake, with the graininess of  oats and hints of dry bark.

Palate:  Soft, sweet and smooth. The sweetness from the nose is carried forward with more notes of pear drops, honeydew melon and green apples. There’s also caramel and toffee, and just a little vanilla and clotted cream.

Finish:  Soft again, with more pear drops and a light salted caramel. There is a hint of smoke and grassy or herbal undertones. Surprisingly quenching.

Glen Grant 10 Year Old

Wild Turkey 101

75% corn whisky aged for at least 6 years in charred barrels before bottling at 50.5% ABV.

Price: £31.43 (Master of Malt); £31.55 (The Whisky Exchange)

Appearance: The colour of burnt toffee; a dark amber.

Nose: A mellow nose. Vanilla and burnt caramel are the initial notes, slowly overwhelmed by banana, and hints of sultana. Like dark wooden furniture that’s been lightly varnished, and waxy, bruised red apples.

Palate: Sweet, with just a hint of smoke. Banana dominates the palate, along with rhubarb and custard, with a dash of toffee and possibly a light cinnamon. There is the softness of honey yet the spice of black pepper. .

Finish: The finish is oaty, corn-like and quite dry, with the bitterness of walnut skins. The banana from the nose and palate can also be found long after the whisky has gone.

Wild Turkey 101

Glen Grant 12 Year Old

Matured in ex-bourbon barrels for 12 years, with an ABV of 43%.

Price: £42.83 (Master of Malt); £42.95 (The Whisky Exchange)

Appearance: Pale yellow

Nose: A strongly honeyed barbecue sauce, lightly smokey and with hints of chili. There are fruity notes of green apple, orange zest and pear drops, with some subtle oats and grassy tones.

Palate: Honeyed barbecue sauce with hints of chili. There are also notes of green apple and hints of citrus from grapefruit, with a little bit of toffee, or dulce du leche. 

Finish: A sharp finish with a little smoke. The grapefruit from palate shines through to the finish, as do tones of toffee.

Glen Grant 12 Year Old

Wild Turkey Straight Rye

This 65% Rye, 23% corn and 12% malted barley dram was aged in heavily charred American Oak casks and bottled at 40.5% ABV.

Price: £27.55 (Master of Malt); £27.45 (The Whisky Exchange)

Appearance: Light amber in colour, slightly orange.

Nose: Salty, like driftwood and wet sad, with hints of vanilla, powdered ginger and caramel. There is slight citrus in dry orange peels, and a savoury, starchiness of cumin, nigella seeds and boiled rice.

Palate: Strong notes of caraway and aniseed, with black pepper are met with the sweetness of caramel.

Finish: The finish is packed with caraway, and a light bitterness. There are notes of bay leaf and orange peel, with a hint of vanilla.

Wild Turkey Straight Rye

The Verdict

The winner in our eyes? Now that is hard to say. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a light scotch, sometimes a straight rye! All of the drams are well worth their money, affordable luxery! That being said, if we had to pick a bottle to buy first, we would choose… Glen Grant 10 Year Old! A delightful, smooth, quenching drink that can be enjoyed by whisky newbies or seasoned enthusiasts.

The Winner!

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