Review: What, Exactly, Does a Turkey-Infused Whiskey Taste Like?
Testing out Bird of Couarge, a Thanksgiving-themed spirit from New Hampshire’s experimental Tamworth Distillery
What we’re drinking: Bird of Courage, a seasonally appropriate, roasted turkey-flavored whiskey.
Where it’s from: Tamworth, a New Hampshire distillery that previously brought you a venison (and a beaver sac) whiskey.
Why we’re drinking this: ‘Tis the season?
But seriously, while Tamworth offers up novelty with some of their limited-edition releases, they have a pretty good selection of more straightforward tipples. Plus, the experimental distillery prides itself on utilizing grains sourced from farms within a 150-mile radius during the harvest season and mills everything in-house.
Bird of Courage is a barrel of 5-year-old Bottled in Bond whiskey (12% rye, 81% corn, 7% malt) steeped with “mostly” historically accurate ingredients from a New England Thanksgiving dinner. That includes locally sourced flint corn, chestnuts, apples, cranberries, squash, parsley and sage. Even the turkeys are local, sourced from the nearby Behr Farm.
As for the process of, uh, infusing these ingredients into the whiskey? “All of the ingredients were cooked uniquely and infused into the bourbon before being distilled individually on our vacuum evaporator,” as distiller Matt Power noted in a press release. “The essence of the production strategy was to process every ingredient in the manner that they would be prepped for a real Thanksgiving dinner. So, the turkey was basted while roasting, the corn bread was baked until just right, and the stuffing recipe I used tasted just like my Mom’s! Everything was distilled fresh from the oven so we could capture the true essence of Thanksgiving.”
How it tastes: Surprisingly straightforward. If you told me this was some everyday (and maybe a bit young-ish) bourbon, I’d believe it. Bird of Courage has an oakiness, a lot of brown sugar notes and a bit of herbaceousness. On the finish, I got a bit of fruit that hints at cranberry.
But that’s it. It’s a solid, high-proof whiskey that just happens to be non-vegan. For people who think turkey has no flavor … they might be right. It’s certainly not adding anything here.
That said, Bird of Courage is solid enough to put on your Thanksgiving menu. It actually may provide some balance to your heavy meal. But if you truly want a whisky that complements your turkey-day festivities, we have a better one in mind.
Fun fact: The name “Bird of Courage” originates from Benjamin Franklin, who once argued that the turkey would have been a more appropriate national symbol than the eagle. According to Tamworth founder Steven Grasse, “Franklin was quoted as saying the turkey was a much more respectable bird and a true native of America, first dubbing the turkey as a ‘bird of courage’ that ‘would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.’”
Where to buy it: Bird of Courage is available in limited quantities from Tamworth Distilling in New Hampshire and at Philadelphia’s Art in the Age for $65. It’s also available for preorder at Seelbach’s if you’re looking to buy it online.
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