Photo of
July 26, 2013
[Eddie Russell explains the finer points of Wild Turkey at the Voodoo Rooms][1]
Eddie Russell explains the finer points of Wild Turkey at the Voodoo Rooms

So, Friday morning. Not long to go before it’s officially the weekend and the thoughts of many, including the 5pm Blog, turn to something cold and strong to help draw a line between work and fun time.

But what to have?

Earlier this week, this scribbler sauntered along to the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh for a bourbon master class with Eddie Russell. Eddie is the associate master distiller at Wild Turkey and the son of the master distiller Jimmy Russell.

[Jimmy and Eddie Russell get to grips with another Wild Turkey barrel][4]
Jimmy and Eddie Russell get to grips with another Wild Turkey barrel

Exploding BBQs

Eddie is a lively character with an admirable southern drawl and a plentiful supply of colourful stories involving the hard-living antics of the previous generation of Kentucky bourbon distillers. If you have ever wondered how to blow up a barbeque using bourbon, buy Eddie a drink.

Eddie was in town to launch the inaugural UK Wild Turkey Cocktail competition. Over the next few weeks, bar tenders throughout the UK will be mixing, muddling and macerating all sorts of weird and wonderful concoctions using Wild Turkey 81 and its stronger, big brother Wild Turkey 101. When the winner is announced later in the year, we’ll print the recipe.

Made using at least 51% corn, which gives bourbon its characteristic sweet notes, bourbon must be aged for at least two years in charred, new oak barrels. No artificial flavourings or colours are allowed by federal law.

Alligator char

At Wild Turkey, they age their whiskey in oak barrels which have been given the heaviest char available – the No 4 or alligator char – so called because the blackened interiors of the barrels have the same texture as ‘gator hide.

At 50.5% ABV or 101 proof, Wild Turkey 101 was the original whiskey produced at the Lawrenceburg distillery. Eddie designed the 40.5% Wild Turkey 81 as a spirit which would be more sympathetic to mixing and being used in cocktails.

Julep recipe

When the clock strikes six, I’m going to fix myself a 56 julep@

2 1/2 oz. of Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon

3 sprigs of mint (six to eight mature-sized leaves)

1 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar

1/2 cup of crushed ice

Muddle two sprigs of mint with the brown sugar and one ounce of Wild Turkey 101 for a few minutes, crushing the mint leaves with a spoon. Add the crushed ice, the remaining bourbon, and garnish with sprig of mint.

[The 56 julep: the liquid version of six o'clock Friday][6]
The 56 julep: the liquid version of six o’clock Friday