Wild Turkey is a brand of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey distilled and bottled by the Austin, Nichols division of Pernod Ricard. Its nicknames include "The Dirty Bird," "Gobble Gobble," "Thunder Chicken," and "The Kickin’ Chicken", the last being a reference to the 101 proof of its most common bottling, as compared to the 80 proof of standard bourbons.
The Ripy brothers built the distillery at Lawrenceburg in 1905 and resumed distilling after Prohibition. The Ripys were bought out by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Co. in 1971, who in turn were bought by Pernod Ricard in 1980.
Distillery executive Thomas McCarthy took some warehouse samples on a wild turkey hunting trip in 1940. The next year his friends asked him for "some of that wild turkey whiskey", and a brand was born. The 80 proof version was introduced in 1974.
The Wild Turkey label carries a vividly printed, seemingly engraved illustration of its namesake. In the USA, five varieties of the bourbon are generally available: 80 proof, 101 proof, Kentucky Spirit, Russell's Reserve, and Rare Breed.
Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit is a single barrel version at 101 proof, the 10 year old named for Master Distiller Jimmy Russell is 90 proof, and the Rare Breed is a blend of 6, 8 and 12-year-old stocks at 108.2 barrel proof.
Versions available in other countries include the 101 proof at 8 and 12 years old, a blend at 106 proof, an 86.8 proof and alcopops pre-mixed with cola.
One reviewer from Whisky Magazine, proclaimed that Wild Turkey 101 is, "A Clint Eastwood of whiskeys." It also earned an 'Editor's Choice' award from the same publication.
The Wild Turkey brand has also been extended to a 101 proof rye whiskey, made from a mash of 65% rye, 23% corn and 12% barley, and to a honey liqueur.
Kentucky River Fish Kill
On May 9
, a seven-story warehouse in Anderson County, Kentucky was destroyed in a fire, spilling thousands of gallons of Wild Turkey into the Kentucky River. The alcohol resulted in a fish-kill that killed hundreds of thousands of fish along a 66 mile stretch of the river. Wild Turkey paid $256,000 to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife in an effort to restore the fish population in the river.
In Popular Culture
- In Chronicles Volume I, Bob Dylan mentions drinking shots of Wild Turkey while playing poker with fellow musicians in between sets during his early career in New York City.
- Wild Turkey is the preferred drink of Southwest Airlines colorful former CEO Herb Kelleher. Southwest is also the only airline that serves Wild Turkey onboard.
- In the Tom Green film, Freddy Got Fingered, Mr. Brody angrily confronts Gord while drunk on Wild Turkey
- The Wild Turkey distillery is on the American Whiskey Trail.
- Wild Turkey was a known favorite of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and he alluded to instances of drinking it several times in his writings.
- Clint Eastwood famously orders and consumes Wild Turkey in the 1975 film The Eiger Sanction.
- In the film "Thelma & Louise", Thelma is often seen buying and drinking Wild Turkey.
- Frank Castle consumes copious quantities of Wild Turkey in The Punisher.
- In the Cross Canadian Ragweed song "Bad Habit" it is mentioned as one of the singers vices
- :Wild Turkey slightly chilled, cocaine and prescription pills
- Mentioned in first verse of the ZZ Top song "Driving While Blind"
- :When You driving down the highway at night
- :And you're feeling that wild turkey's bite
- Reputedly, professional daredevil Evel Knievel used to take a shot of Wild Turkey before every jump.
- An attorney, Stone Barrington in many novels by Stuart Woods drinks Wild Turkey almost daily at his favorite restaurant.
- In "Christmas Vacation", cousin Eddie explains the absence of his daughter from the visit to the Griswold's by saying she is in the clinic "getting cured off the Wild Turkey".
- In the song Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother by Ray Wylie Hubbard, the "redneck" likes to chase down his Falstaff beer "with that Wild Turkey liquor."
- In the book "City of Tiny Lights", the main character Tommy Akhtar's favorite drink.
- In the movie "Out Cold" the main character drinks Wild Turkey after a rough night
- In Quentin Tarantino's movie Death Proof, the protagonists drink a lot of Wild Turkey.
- In the song "10 Wheels for Jesus" by Elvis Hitler
- :A man can't live on Wild Turkey alone, even though it's 8 years old and 101 proof
- In the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, an alcoholic detective Valiant (played by Bob Hoskins) drinks Wild Turkey.
- A number of characters in Haruki Murakami's books drink Wild Turkey.
- In the 1983 movie "Terms of Endearment" written and directed by James L. Brooks, the character played by Shirley MacClaine orders a bourbon ("... preferably Wild Turkey") on her lunch date with Garrett Breedlove, the aging playboy character played by Jack Nicholson.
- In the Steve McQueen movie The Getaway, Ben Johnson's character is seen drinking Wild Turkey just before getting shot.
- In the 10th episode of the third season of The Sopranos, Tony enters Vesuvio and asks the bartender for a Wild Turkey, neat. Additionally, Bobby "Baccala" Baccalieri asks for the same thing in the 5th episode of the fourth season at some local bar.
- Wild Turkey supposedly is Robert Plant's favorite whistle wetter.
- In the song "Sober" by Muse.
- :Wild Turkey's been chosen
- :It's caramel nose can smell me
- In the song "About the South" by Rodney Atkins.
- :''Wild Turkey, deer jerky, tough as Tarzan's feet
- In HBO's "Entourage", Medellin directory Billy Walsh is seen drinking Wild Turkey
- :from the bottle while sitting in his bathtub.
- In the film First Blood (1982) when Colonel Trautman and Sheriff Will Teasle met in the bar to talk about Rambo being chased, Sheriff Teasle orders a shot of Wild Turkey.
- In the film Let It Ride, Richard Dreyfuss orders Wild Turkey by asking if "it's in season..."
- In a fourth season episode of "The West Wing" ("Angel Maintenance"), President Josiah Bartlett can be seen drinking Wild Turkey on board Air Force One.
- In the film The Guardian Ben Randall is seen drinking Wild Turkey.
- In the anime series "Trigun" Wild Turkey features amongst other bourbon brands.
- In Poppy Z Brite's Liquor series, the character Rickey often drinks Wild Turkey