In a first for his company, Master Distiller Eddie Russell has curated 10,000 bottles of Wild Turkey’s latest drop, Masters Keep 1894 as an exclusive export for Australia.
In a conversation with Eddie at the QT Sydney, we sought to find what makes this exclusive bottle so good.
“This, to me, was so unique ‘cause it has a lot of fruity flavours. A little apple, a little dried pear, a little dried banana – it is not really what you see in Wild Turkey, so it’s really different,” says Russell.
“Normally these [whiskeys] go to America, here and Japan. But what we wanted here was something just for Australia.”
And as well as being different, this bottle is also very special to Eddie.
“I stayed at Wild Turkey because I had a taste out of a barrel from the ‘A’ warehouse – 1894 comes from the ‘A’ warehouse, which is our original warehouse,” he says. “I had some barrels in there from 2003, 2005, and then I added some 2010 to it.”
In less expensive bottles of Wild Turkey whiskey, like the 101 and 1868, Eddie Russell would normally take fifteen hundred barrels and “mingle them together”.
“But, the 1894 is one where I had to stand in the warehouse and say, ‘I want these two barrels, but not those three, and that one over there’. So this was very hand selected.”
To take this further, in order to create the great unique taste for Australians, Eddie spoke with Australian Wild Turkey Collectors club to understand Australian taste-buds.
“A lot of times you see bourbon whiskey societies, and they want something big, and strong, and spicy,” says Russell.
“The 1894 is a little more milder, has fruit instead of spice, and it’s not that super-hard on the back end.
“So that’s what I was really looking for, to make something that fitted into this profile.”
This is Eddie’s fourth visit to Australia where he is hosting masterclasses to showcase Wild Turkey’s bottle portfolio, including Masters Keep: 1894. And through his visits, he’s noticed a change in Australia’s drinking habits.
“You can see the change – you’re starting to see more of that brown spirit cocktail culture, more whiskeys on the back bar.”
Eddie’s first trip to Australia was with his dad, former-Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, in mid-2000.
“When I first came over here, it was a lot of RTDs (Ready To Drink). And really it was Jim Beam and Wild Turkey, and just the basic,” says Russell.
“Now you’re seeing much more a selection, a little more of the higher end.”
“So now I bring over my Russells and my rare breeds, which are smaller batches.”
Eddie also said that creating the 1894 shows how much Wild Turkey values Australia.
“I’ll continue to come over every couple of years, I’ll continue to help support the brand here in Australia,” says Russell.