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Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Unforgotten: How One Big Mistake Led to One Beautiful Whiskey

We all make mistakes. But some are decidedly easier to swallow than others. Case in point: The latest release from Wild Turkey, Master’s Keep Unforgotten, is a blend of 13-year-old bourbon and 8-year old rye, which was never meant to be. It celebrates a snafu, which occurred at the Lawrenceburg, KY, distillery back in 2010 when an unnamed employee accidentally emptied a batch of young rye into a holding tank filled with mature bourbon. The rest is hooch history.

“Twelve years ago, I tasted the result of [that] mishap,” recalls second generation master distiller Eddie Russell. “It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before, and I knew we had stumbled upon something special.”

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You can just imagine the relief of the chagrined crew member in that moment. Expecting to be summarily dismissed from any future in whiskey making, they unintentionally crafted a new line of liquid. It was eventually released to the world, fittingly, as Forgiven.

But for this go-around, the mashup was very much intentional. It includes some of the oldest rye ever released by Wild Turkey, offering caramel, caraway, and cinnamon in splendid detail. After careful blending against an even older bourbon, the marriage is enhanced through extra aging in ex-rye casks, landing in the bottle at a sturdy-yet-sippable 105 proof.

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Bottle of Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Unforgotten Whiskey in box
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“The extra aging time in rye casks imparts notes of fresh fruit that are rarely exhibited in such mature liquids,” according to Russell. “A first taste starts with a combination of caramel, fruit, and sweet oak, before transitioning to notes of black pepper and warm baking spices on the finish It honors the storied history of American rye production, while offering a distinct experience that will surely surprise and delight those who consume the liquid.”

Unforgotten marks the eighth release in the Master’s Keep series, which Russell launched in 2015. The idea back then was to create a line of ultra-premium releases reserved for ambitious experimentation in aging techniques and finishes. It’s gone on to encompass some of the most cultishly revered liquids in the distillery’s storied arsenal, including bottles that currently command quadruple-digit prices. So, mission accomplished.

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As for Unforgotten, Russell reminds us, “with only 25,000 bottles available globally, it offers whiskey fans a limited opportunity to experience an unforgettable liquid that won’t be available again.”

In other words, if you want to hold on to this happy accident, you best act fast. Make no mistake: it won’t last long.

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