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Issue 31 - Class acts

Whisky Magazine Issue 31
June 2003

 

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Class acts

The Masterclasses gave visitors the chance to explore the world of whisky more fully. Brigid James picks some highlights

We were only there for one thing: to meet the ‘godfather of bourbon', living legend and third generation master distiller Jimmy Russell.

Detailing some of the finer points of production, Jimmy explained that Wild Turkey is distilled at low proof to conserve flavours – meaning higher production costs but better flavour. And Jimmy refuses point blank to use genetically-modified grain. He explained that the white oak used for the barrels comes from Arkansas, Missouri and east Kentucky – due to its good fibre and coarseness. The oaks are felled between 40 and 100 years old.

The class undertook a vertical tasting comprising new make, 2, 4, 6 and 8 year olds, followed by Wild Turkey 101 rye. The sweet vanilla and caramel tastes were ever more clearly defined moving up the tasting, topped off with the complex, unusual, bold 101 rye.

And the icing on the cake was a gift for each audience member of a bottle of Wild Turkey 8-Year-Old signed by Jimmy – a precious and unique souvenir given by a unique man.

The Classic Malts class, led by Jim Beveridge and Kenny Gray, showcased exceptional aged malts that have survived into old age mainly through luck, having been intended for blending purposes, but passed over due to a period of overproduction in the 1970s. Jim and Kenny explained the history of the whiskies and their distilleries whilst guiding participants through a remarkable tasting.

The first sample, a Port Ellen 24-year-old, was fresh, minty, salty, with smokiness and...

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