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Our master distillers have stayed true to a tradition from before Prohibition.

Our very own Jimmy Russell is the world’s
longest-tenured active master distiller. In 2015 his son,
Eddie Russell, was named master distiller in his
own right after 35 years with Wild Turkey.

JimmyRussell_Tittle

Wild Turkey’s very own Jimmy Russell is the longest-tenured active master distiller in the world. For over 60 years, he’s preserved a tradition that dates back generations. The ultimate craftsman and true ambassador for America’s native spirit, he’s even known as the Buddha of Bourbon by some. His legendary status is no surprise, considering that he’s never wavered on quality. And while he claims he’s just “Plain old Jimmy from Kentucky,” within the community of bourbon makers, he’s often called one more thing: “The Master Distiller’s Master Distiller.”

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EddieRussell_Tittle

Eddie Russell joined Wild Turkey in 1981, and even as the son of Wild Turkey’s famed master distiller, he started as a relief operator and worked his way up. He was inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2011, he created a new expression of Wild Turkey at 81 proof to be a perfect mixing bourbon: Wild Turkey 81. Most recently, he was promoted to master distiller alongside his dad, making Jimmy and Eddie the only active father and son duo of bourbon master distillers in the world.

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the_craft

Wild Turkey is different for good reason, and it all comes down to premium ingredients, select barrels, and a lot of patience.

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02_Ingredients

Your whiskey is only as good as your ingredients. That’s why our water comes from the Kentucky River and is naturally filtered through limestone, removing iron and other impurities. Plus we’re still using our original yeast strain – proprietary to Wild Turkey – which has informed our bourbon’s signature flavor for over 60 years. And you’ll never find a genetically modified grain in our bourbon. Because non-GMO, natural, and authentic is just Jimmy Russell’s way.

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03_Barrels

Not everyone makes a big deal about char – the burn inside American White Oak barrels used to age bourbon. But only a No. 4 “alligator” char, the deepest available, can produce our bourbon’s signature amber color and bold flavor. Others might be content with a No. 1, 2 or 3 char; but it’s something we can never compromise. And, we use No. 4 char across all or our bourbons, giving each one our distinctive and rich flavor.

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04_Time

We never pour a drop of Wild Turkey until it’s aged at least five years – often six or eight or more. Of course, we only have to age it two years to call it a straight bourbon, but we’re not big fans of doing the minimum. Even our tin-clad, wooden rickhouses have stood the test of time; they allow maximum interaction between wood and bourbon, and they’ve been doing it since the 1890s. When we put “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” on our label, it’s because our bourbon earned it.

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  • the_heritage

    Take a look back through the Wild Turkey Timeline and see how we got to where we are today.

  • 01_1855

    Austin Nichols starts selling wine and spirits as a wholesale grocer. The business he starts would later own Wild Turkey.

  • 02_1869

    The Ripy brothers open their family distillery on Wild Turkey Hill in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

  • 03_1893

    The Ripy Brothers’ bourbon represents Kentucky at the World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois.

  • 04_1940

    Wild Turkey Bourbon gets its name after a distillery executive shares his bourbon with friends on an annual hunting trip — of course, they were after wild turkey.

  • 05_1954

    Master Distiller Jimmy Russell joins Wild Turkey. He’s the third in a line of distillers and learned his craft from Wild Turkey’s second master distiller, Bill Hughes, and Ernest W. Ripy, son of the original distiller.

  • 06_1976

    Wild Turkey introduces the world’s first bourbon liqueur as a way to attract even more people into the bourbon world, which eventually led to the creation of Wild Turkey’s American Honey.

  • 07_1981

    Eddie Russell, son of Jimmy Russell, joins Wild Turkey as a relief operator and begins to work his way up the ladder.

  • 08_1991

    Wild Turkey introduces our premium Rare Breed, one of the first barrel proof bourbons to go to market.

  • 09_1995

    Kentucky Spirit, a single-barrel (one of the world’s firsts), 101-proof bourbon, is released.

  • 10_2000

    Master Distiller Jimmy Russell is inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

  • 11_2004

    Jimmy Russell celebrates his 50th year at the Wild Turkey distillery.

  • 12_2006

    American Honey, a liqueur with real Wild Turkey Bourbon and pure American Honey, is introduced.

  • 13_2007

    American Spirit, a 15-year-old bourbon, is released in honor of National Bourbon Heritage Month. The month celebrates the rich heritage, tradition, and legacy of the bourbon industry.

  • 14_2010

    Eddie Russell is inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame by his father, Jimmy Russell.

  • 15_2011

    In Eddie Russell’s 30th year at the distillery, he introduces an 81 proof expression of the world famous Wild Turkey Bourbon, intended to be the perfect mixing bourbon.

  • 16_2014

    Jimmy Russell celebrates his 60th year at the Wild Turkey distillery. To celebrate this achievement, a special bourbon called Diamond was released in his honor. A combination of 13 and 16 year old bourbons, this bourbon is something special, just like our own Jimmy Russell.

  • 2015

    Eddie Russell is officially given the title of master distiller, making Jimmy and Eddie the only active father and son duo of bourbon master distillers in the world.

  • 2016

    A year after Eddie Russell joined his father Jimmy as Master Distiller, we gave our packaging a bold new look to better reflect the ownership behind each of our bourbons.

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