Logo of Wild Turkey with red turkey illustration

Wild Turkey Distillery

  • USA, Kentucky
  • Bourbon earned the ‘Editor’s Choice’ award from Whisky Magazine in 2012
  • https://www.wildturkeybourbon.com/
Phone Number
  • 1525 Tyrone Rd, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342, United States

Wild Turkey Distillery building facade with logo and visitors.


History of Wild Turkey Distillery

Founding and Early Years

The Wild Turkey Distillery, located in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, has a rich history dating back to the mid-19th century. The journey began with James and John Ripy, who arrived in Kentucky from Ireland in 1851. They initially opened a general store before establishing their distillery in 1869. The Wild Turkey brand, however, didn’t emerge until much later. In 1940, the first batch of Wild Turkey bourbon was released, sourced from multiple distilleries.

Mid 20th Century Developments

In 1954, a significant addition was made to the distillery team with the joining of Jimmy Russell. He became the Master Distiller in 1967, a pivotal point in Wild Turkey’s history. Under his guidance, the brand saw substantial growth and innovation. In 1971, Austin, Nichols & Co. purchased the distillery and renamed it Wild Turkey Distillery. This move centralized all bourbon production under the Wild Turkey brand.

Expansion and Recognition

The late 20th century marked a period of expansion and recognition for Wild Turkey. The 1980s and 1990s saw various changes in ownership and infrastructure, including the acquisition by Pernod Ricard in 1980 and the introduction of steel fermentation tanks. Notably, in 2000, Jimmy Russell was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, highlighting his significant contributions to the bourbon industry.

Modern Era and Global Presence

In 2009, the Campari Group acquired Wild Turkey for $575 million, marking a new chapter in its global expansion. The new millennium also saw further accolades and developments, including the induction of Eddie Russell, Jimmy’s son, into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2010 and the rebuilding of the distillery on the site of a destroyed warehouse in 2011.

Product Evolution and Awards

Wild Turkey has a diverse range of products, including their flagship Wild Turkey 101, various aged releases under the Master’s Keep label, and flavored variants like American Honey. The distillery has earned several accolades over the years, such as the ‘Editor’s Choice’ award from Whisky Magazine for Wild Turkey 101 in 2012.

Marketing Campaigns and Cultural Impact

Wild Turkey has been notable for its bold marketing campaigns, including the controversial “Give ’em the Bird” campaign in 2011. The brand has also been a part of popular culture, being a favorite of notable personalities like journalist Hunter S. Thompson and featuring in various television shows and movies.

Family Legacy and Future

The Russell family plays a vital role in the distillery’s operations, with Jimmy and Eddie Russell representing 101 years of distilling history as of 2018. The brand continues to innovate while maintaining its traditional bourbon-making techniques, ensuring its place as a significant name in the American whiskey industry.

Awards Won by Wild Turkey Distillery

Wild Turkey 101: This bourbon earned the ‘Editor’s Choice’ award from Whisky Magazine in 2012. It has been highly rated by various experts, placing in the 97th percentile of all rated bourbons.

Wild Turkey Distillery Tour Information and Experience

Bourbon Making Process

The tour at Wild Turkey Distillery starts with an in-depth exploration of bourbon production. Visitors gain insight into the selection of grains like corn, barley, and rye, crucial for bourbon making. The process from mashing to distillation is explained, offering a comprehensive view of how the unique flavors of Wild Turkey Bourbon are developed. This segment is an enlightening experience, particularly for those keen on the technical aspects of whiskey making.

Historical Insights

As the tour progresses, visitors are introduced to the rich history of the Wild Turkey brand. The distillery’s halls are adorned with memorabilia, taking guests on a journey back in time to the era before Prohibition. This historical walkthrough is not just informative but also immerses visitors in the legacy and traditions that have shaped Wild Turkey over the years.

Tasting Experience

A highlight of the tour is the bourbon tasting session, where guests can sample various Wild Turkey products. This experience allows visitors to appreciate the nuances of flavor and quality that Wild Turkey is known for. The guided tasting is both enjoyable and educational, making it a favorite among bourbon enthusiasts.

Rickhouse Visit

An integral part of the tour is the visit to the rickhouses. These massive seven-story structures house thousands of barrels of aging bourbon and rye. The guide explains the significance of barrel aging, including how the position of barrels in the rickhouse affects the flavor profile of the whiskey. This part of the tour is a unique opportunity to see where and how the bourbon matures before it reaches the bottle.

Additional Information

  • Location: The distillery is located in a scenic area on Wild Turkey Hill in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, adding to the charm of the visit.
  • Booking Advice: To ensure a spot on the tour, advance booking is recommended, as the tours are quite popular and can fill up quickly.

The Wild Turkey Distillery tour is more than just a simple visit; it’s a comprehensive educational experience that offers profound insights into the world of bourbon, from its history and making to the final product. Whether you’re a bourbon aficionado or new to whiskey, this tour is an enriching experience.

Flask & Barrel Review of Wild Turkey Distillery

I recently visited the Wild Turkey Distillery and was genuinely impressed. As a seasoned whiskey collector who has toured numerous distilleries, I found Wild Turkey to stand out in several key areas.

Firstly, the location is picturesque. Nestled on the Kentucky River, the setting is ideal for a day out. The atmosphere is welcoming, and you feel a sense of history as you walk around.

The tour itself was well-structured and informative. Our guide was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, sharing insights into the distilling process that were both interesting and easy to understand. I particularly enjoyed learning about the unique aspects of Wild Turkey’s production methods.

The tasting session was the highlight for me. As a collector, I’ve tasted a wide range of whiskeys, but the samples provided here were exceptional. Their bourbons have a distinct, rich flavour that is both robust and smooth. The Rare Breed was a standout, offering a complex taste profile that was a pleasure to savour.

The only minor downside was the size of the tour group. It felt a bit crowded at times, which made it challenging to view some of the smaller details in the production area.

What To Do Nearby Wild Turkey Distillery

Downtown Lawrenceburg: Just 2.5 miles away, this historic area offers a charming stroll among painted storefronts, boutiques, art galleries, and eateries. The Anderson County Courthouse is a notable landmark here.

Anderson County History Museum: Located in downtown Lawrenceburg, this free museum housed in the Old Carnegie Library, offers insights into local history, including military artifacts and historic farming tools.

Anderson County Community Park: A short distance from downtown, this park offers sports facilities, a disc golf course, a playground, a fishing pond, and a skate park, perfect for some outdoor relaxation.

Anderson County Farmers’ Market: Operating from April to November, this market offers locally grown produce, fresh roasted coffee, crafts, and more. It’s located on U.S. 127, north of downtown Lawrenceburg.

Young’s High Bridge: Near the distillery, this former railroad bridge now serves as a bungee jumping platform, offering a unique thrill for adventurers.

Elements Clay Studio: Next to the Four Roses Distillery, this pottery studio offers classes and a Paint Your Own Pottery experience.

Lovers Leap Vineyard and Winery: Enjoy wine tasting and vineyard tours at this picturesque location near the Kentucky River.

Rising Sons Home Farm Winery: This family-run winery offers wine tastings, a cozy atmosphere, and is known for its Italian heritage.

Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum: About 10 minutes east of Lawrenceburg, this heritage railroad offers scenic rides through the countryside.

Josephine Sculpture Park: North of Lawrenceburg, this unique park combines nature with art, featuring sculptures by international artists.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Wild Turkey Distillery?

Bluegrass Sabor: It has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at (502) 604-6110. Their address is 1010 Chico Drive, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342.

Don Pedro’s Mexican Grill: This restaurant has a rating of 4.5 stars. For reservations, their contact number is (502) 859-2020. The address is 1002 Eagle Lake Dr, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342.

La Isla Mexican Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. You can contact them at (502) 839-9550 for reservations. Their address is 751 W Broadway St, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342.

What hotels are near Wild Turkey Distillery?

Best Western Lawrenceburg Inn: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them at (502) 839-3444. The address is 200 Plaza Dr, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Frankfort, an IHG Hotel: This hotel has a rating of 4.2 stars. For reservations, their phone number is (502) 352-4650. It is located at 1000 Vandalay Dr, Frankfort, KY 40601.

Trail Suites Inn: It has a rating of 4.7 stars on Google Maps. Their address is 117 S Main St, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342.