Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Triumph Takes Rye in New Directions

Can an exceptionally long-aged rye whiskey offer something balanced and elegant?

May 15, 2024 12:43 pm
Wild Turkey Masters Keep Triumph, both the bottle and the packaging, on a table.
Wild Turkey Master's Keep Triumph is a 10-year-old rye whiskey with a balanced character.
Campari America

What we’re drinking: Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Triumph

Where it’s from: Wild Turkey is based in Lawrenceburg, KY. Launched in 1942, the distillery has been owned by drinks giant Campari since 2009. The Master’s Keep line was launched in 2015.

Why we’re drinking this: We’ve been big fans of Wild Turkey’s limited-edition releases, and WT 101 remains a home bar staple. Still, we haven’t paid as much attention to Wild Turkey’s rye offerings in the past — in part because Master Distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on rye whiskey (the latter is a fan, the former, not so much). Interestingly, while Triumph is more Eddie Russell’s project, it does showcase the influence of his son Bruce, who is now an associate blender at the distillery. 

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“I learn a lot from my son, who is newer to the industry, but he has so much knowledge about the age group that’s growing our industry — what they like and how their taste has changed over the years,” says Eddie Russell during a small media tasting of Triumph earlier this month. 

According to the brand, The Master’s Keep series was born from Eddie Russell’s “desire to push the boundaries of traditional bourbon-making by experimenting with aging techniques and finishes.” It’s an annual release produced in limited quantities. To that end, Triumph is the oldest age-stated rye whiskey ever released by Wild Turkey — it’s a small batch, 10-year-old expression. 

While the distillery pushed the age, they wanted to stay in Eddie’s preferred style. “I didn’t want that barrel to overtake the great flavors the rye had,” Eddie says. “A lot of ryes are predominantly notes like pepper or mint. Our 101 rye is big, bold, full of black pepper and spicy. When you go to this one, you’re going to see more of those elegant notes that I look for in anything that you see with my name on.”

Can Wild Turkey create an extra-aged rye that keeps an “elegant” profile? Let’s take a sip.

How it tastes: “I think a lot of ryes hit you up front and then it’s just like, that’s it,” Eddie says. “It’s that same taste the whole way through. For me, this one is completely different; I wanted something different front, middle and back, but I also wanted it to be very balanced as it goes through.”

Triumph achieves that goal. On the nose, you’ll pick up mint, vanilla and baking spices. Dried fruit, nutmeg, caramel, cloves, chocolate and honey become more apparent on the palate. Some black pepper and oak spice come in at the finish. For an older rye, this one is balanced but still packs a kick from the extended time in the barrel. 

Fun fact: Not great at coming up with tasting notes? Well, neither is Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame member Eddie Russell. “When you see things written about our tasting notes, those aren’t me,” he says. “My notes are pretty general — I only use 10 to 15 notes. I know some distilleries say there’s a couple hundred flavors you can taste in here, and I’m like, I can’t taste that many. I can taste two or three. I can smell three or four.”

Where to buy: A limited quantity of Master’s Keep Triumph will be available in select U.S. markets via online presale in early June, or you can purchase Triumph in-store at select domestic retailers around that time for $275 (you can sign up for more information on availability here).


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