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Wild Turkey 101 vs Buffalo Trace: Which is Better? (2022)

Last Updated on November 20, 2022 by Lydia Martin

When it comes to bourbon, there are two schools of thought – go big or go home.

Wild Turkey 101 and Buffalo Trace bourbons embody this philosophy in their own unique ways.

Both brands have a long history and are known for their high-quality bourbons that even seasoned bourbon drinkers find difficult to choose between the two.

So, which one is better? In this article, we will compare Wild Turkey 101 vs Buffalo Trace to see which one comes out on top.

Wild Turkey 101 & Buffalo Trace Compared

Bottles of Wild Turkey 101 and Buffalo Trace

Wild Turkey 101 and Buffalo Trace are excellent bourbons with high alcohol content and a long aging process that gives them a great depth of flavor. 

The main difference between the two is that Wild Turkey 101 is a little higher in alcohol content (50.5 % ABV) and has a slightly spicier profile.

Buffalo Trace is a little lower in alcohol (45% ABV) but has a more complex flavor with hints of vanilla and oak.

Their Main Differences

History & Origin

Buffalo Trace Distillery Building

The name “Wild Turkey” was first used in 1940 and then registered as a trademark in 1943.

The brand was created by Austin Nichols company, which has been involved in Kentucky bourbon production since the early 1800s. 

In 1954, Wild Turkey hired Jimmy Russel, who played a big role in the brand’s success as its master distiller. 

Meanwhile, the distillery where Buffalo Trace bourbons and other famous brands came from is historical.

It traces its roots back to 1787 when it was founded as Wilkinson County Distillery. 

In 1857, it was renamed George T. Stagg Distillery after its new owner and eventually became known as Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1999. 

Distillation & Production

Buffalo Trace distills their bourbon in a column still, while Wild Turkey uses both pot and column stills.

Both brands use the sour mash method of fermentation [1]. This means that each new batch of the mash is fermented using some portion of the previously used yeast culture.

The two bourbon whiskey brands also have the same source of water supply – the Kentucky river. It is said that these waters are perfect for making the best bourbons.

Maturation

Buffalo Trace bourbon whiskey ages between six and eight years in virgin charred oak barrels at the famed Buffalo Trace Distillery.

On the contrary, Wild Turkey bourbons have aged a minimum of five years but are often between six and eight years using American white oak barrels no. 4, or the “alligator” char. 

Wild Turkey claims these special types of barrels give their bourbon its signature color and bold flavors. [2]

Mash Bills & Alcohol Proof

pouring bottle of Wild Turkey 101

Wild Turkey has a mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley and is bottled at 101 proof (50.5% ABV).

Buffalo Trace, on the other hand, uses mash bill #1 (same recipe on Eagle Rare), a low rye whiskey recipe of no more than 10% rye, at least 51% corn, and malted barley. It is bottled at 90 proof (45% ABV).

Tasting Notes

Wild Turkey 101

Palate: It has a bold and spicy taste of tobacco, baking spice, and leather but is not too overwhelming with a light touch of caramel, honey, brown sugar, and toasted oak.

Nose: It has the smell of corn sweetness with hints of honey, the spiciness of rye grain, and a punch of alcohol.

Color: Deep golden amber

Finish: Long warm finish with some taste of baking spice, sweet vanilla, brown sugar, and oak spice

Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Palate: Notes of oak spice, caramel, vanilla, and chocolate.

Nose: A complex aroma of fruity sweetness with hints of caramel, baking spice, vanilla, and cinnamon can be smelled before you drink this spirit.

Color: Deep Copper

Finish: A mild spiciness dominates in the warm medium-length finish, with sweet notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and black pepper.

Ownership & Distillery 

Close up Shot of Buffalo Trace Bottle Label

Wild Turkey and its distillery that produces the said whiskey is owned by Campari Group, an Italian-based multinational company with around 4,000 employees.

In contrast, Buffalo Trace is owned by Sazerac Company. It is based in New Orleans, Louisiana, with an estimated 5,000 employees.

Wild Turkey’s distillery is located in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, while Buffalo Trace’s is located in Frankfort, Kentucky. 

Product Availability

Both bourbon brands are available nationwide, but sometimes, these two popular whiskeys can be hard to find.

The demand for these two brands is consistent as their patrons never stop loving them two.

On most online retailer websites, both are always seen available, but in most states, you would find Buffalo Trace more difficult to find in your nearby bourbon liquor stores.

Brand Reputation & Popularity

The Sazerac Company and its distillery that produces Buffalo Trace have been very popular around the world.

They have also produced other top-notch whiskeys like Pappy Van Winkle, Blanton’s, and Weller.

Both brands have a strong following among bourbon lovers and are sometimes regarded as two of the best bourbons in the industry. 

Wild Turkey 101 is known for its high quality and rich flavor profile, while the latter is praised for its smooth taste and wide range of flavors.

But what’s so great about Buffalo Trace?

Price Point & Value

Buffalo Trace on a store shelves

In the budget bourbon category, at a price of around $35 dollars per 750 ml (Drizly), you can consider the Buffalo Trace bourbon a steal, considering that its quality is comparable to some expensive brands.

On the other hand, the strong, bold Wild Turkey 101 is more affordable at only around $27 dollars per 750 ml (Drizly).

They’re like giving this good bottled stuff away for free like a no-brainer.

FAQs

Which is harder to find, Buffalo Trace or Wild Turkey 101?

We find Buffalo Trace slightly harder to find than Wild Turkey 101 in most states, even though both brands are widely distributed. 

Is Buffalo Trace easier to drink than Wild Turkey 101?

Yes,  Buffalo Trace is easier to drink straight because it has a lower alcohol volume of 45% ABV and a more mellow flavor than Wild Turkey 101, which has a higher alcohol volume of 50% ABV and more spicy notes.

Wrapping Up 

Both of these bourbons are great choices. If you like a strong, bold flavor, then Wild Turkey 101 is probably your best bet.

If you prefer a smoother, more mellow flavor, then Buffalo Trace might be more to your liking.

Wild Turkey 101 is a bold, full-flavored bourbon that is perfect for sipping neat or on the rocks. It has a strong oak flavor with hints of vanilla and caramel. 

Buffalo Trace is also a full-flavored bourbon, but have lower proof and is slightly sweeter than Wild Turkey 101.

It has flavors of vanilla, baking spice, honey, and fruits. 

References:

  1. https://www.britannica.com/science/fermentation 
  2. https://www.thespruceeats.com/effect-of-aging-on-liquor-759921

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