Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin
Wild Turkey and Jack Daniels have been crafting their distinct brands for generations, each with its unique flavor profile, history, and devoted following.
The rivalry between these two American whiskey giants has sparked passionate debates and loyal followings.
In this Wild Turkey vs Jack Daniels comparison, I will taste both flagship bottles, assess their fair share of differences, and define which American whiskey is better.
Jack Daniels vs Wild Turkey In-Depth Comparison
Jack Daniel’s and Wild Turkey are two American whiskey giants with distinct histories and production methods.
Wild Turkey is part of the bourbon category with high rye content, while Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee whiskey with a corn-heavy mash bill.
Jack Daniel’s and Wild Turkey use modern facilities to guarantee consistency, but Jack Daniel’s is produced in the largest distillation plant in North America.
Wild Turkey is traditionally distilled, fermented with a proprietary yeast strain, and aged in new charred oak barrels for at least eight years.
“There’s a reason why Wild Turkey has remained an American classic – it’s simply outstanding.” -Liquor Laboratory
In contrast, Jack Daniel’s undergoes charcoal mellowing after the distillation process, and then it is aged in handcrafted new American oak barrels for 4-7 years.
Wild Turkey’s complexity and longer aging come at a slightly higher price and were popularized by Jimmy Russell. Jack Daniel’s appeals with its smoother profile and slightly affordable price.
Jack Daniel’s vs Wild Turkey Cheat Sheet
|Aspect||Wild Turkey||Jack Daniel’s|
|Aging Process||Aged in new charred Oak barrels||Charcoal mellowed then aged in charred oak barrels|
|Aging Duration||Minimum of 8 years||4-7 years|
|Varieties||Numerous Wild Turkey products like 101, Rare Breed, American Honey||Numerous Jack Daniels’ products, including Old No. 7, Single Barrel, and more|
|Color||Deep auburn to golden||Amber to light brown|
|Location||Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, USA||Lynchburg, Tennessee, USA|
|Availability||Widely available||Widely available|
|How To Drink It||Neat, on the rocks, or in mixed drinks||Neat, on the rocks, or in mixed drinks|
|Similar To||Brands like Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and Four Roses||Brands like George Dickel, Evan Williams, and Tennessee sipping whiskies|
|Average Price||Roughly $22.49||Roughly $17.99|
Nose: Rich caramel, vanilla, toasted oak, dark fruit, honey, and spicy cinnamon.
Palate: Robust toffee, butterscotch, black pepper, toasted almond, honey, and a subtle undertone of dried apricot.
Finish: Lingering warmth of cinnamon spice, sweet vanilla, charred oak, nutmeg, and a touch of leather.
First Sip: The initial sip reveals a delightful burst of caramel sweetness, followed by a gradual build of warm spices and oak complexity.
Final Taste: Wild Turkey offers a satisfying, well-balanced experience with sweet apple notes taking center stage, accompanied by a balanced infusion of spices.
Oak, vanilla, and caramel flavors work together to create a rich, well-rounded taste. Despite its high proof, Wild Turkey bourbon steers clear of overwhelming heat, rendering it surprisingly approachable.
Star Rating: ★★★★☆
Fun Facts: The name “Wild Turkey” originated when a group of Wild Turkey enthusiasts shared their bourbon with their friends while on a turkey hunting trip.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
Nose: Sweet caramel, vanilla, toasted marshmallow, corn, banana, black pepper, and a hint of charred oak.
Palate: Smooth maple syrup, brown sugar, ripe apple, gentle spice, honey, corn, and subtle toasted oak notes.
Finish: Medium finish with lingering vanilla cream, honey, toasted almond, mild pepper, and faint butterscotch flavors.
First Sip: The first sip greets my palate with a comforting sweetness, followed by a gentle complexity of fruit and oak flavors.
Final Taste: Jack Daniels immediately presents us with nutty, maple-infused notes reminiscent of those delightful maple nut candies.
Oak layers, corn, cinnamon, and a medley of spices grace my taste buds, culminating in a harmonious flavor profile.
Star Rating: ★★★☆☆
Fun Facts: Jack Daniel’s is one of the most recognized and widely distributed whiskey brands globally, with a strong presence in over 170 countries.
How Do They Compare?
Jack Daniel’s, founded by Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel in the 1860s, hails from Lynchburg, Tennessee.
After the Civil War, there was a high demand for whiskey in Reconstruction Tennessee, and it became a global icon for its Tennessee whiskey, distinguished by its mellowing process.
Wild Turkey bourbon was introduced in 1940  as Thomas McCarthy (executive to Austin Nichols) brought samples on a hunting expedition.
Wild Turkey Distillery then introduced the Wild Turkey liqueur in 1976. The brand became famous for its authentic, full-flavored bourbon, often associated with master distiller Jimmy Russell, who played a pivotal role for over six decades.
Jack Daniel’s is owned by Brown-Forman Corporation, a prominent American spirits and wine company . Brown-Forman has been the custodian of Jack Daniel’s brand for many years, overseeing its production and distribution globally.
On the other hand, Wild Turkey is produced in Wild Turkey Distillery (previously owned by Austin Nichols) and owned by the Campari Group .
The Campari Group acquired the brand in 2009 and has continued to uphold Wild Turkey’s traditions while expanding its reach.
Wild Turkey is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey with a robust and spicy flavor profile, while Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee whiskey.
Jack Daniel’s undergoes an additional step of charcoal mellowing before aging, resulting in a smoother, slightly sweeter taste with a distinctive Tennessee character.
Wild Turkey’s mash bill typically includes a higher proportion of rye, which lends its bourbons a spicy and bold character. Its grain combination contributes to the brand’s signature flavor profile, known for its depth and complexity.
On the other hand, Jack Daniel’s employs a mash bill primarily composed of corn, with smaller amounts of barley and rye.
While the exact proportions are proprietary, this mash bill results in a smoother and slightly sweeter whiskey, further influenced by the brand’s unique mellowing process, the Lincoln County Process.
Distillation & Production
Wild Turkey follows a traditional bourbon distillation process, where the fermented mash undergoes continuous column distillation.
Whiskey makers will age the white dog whiskey in new oak barrels to develop a beautiful color and bold flavor profile.
The brand strongly emphasizes the craftsmanship and authenticity of its production, resulting in a rich and full-bodied bourbon.
Jack Daniel’s uses cave spring water from Elk River and employs copper stills for distillation.
However, it distinguishes itself by adding the Lincoln County Process, where the newly distilled spirit is filtered through sugar maple charcoal before aging in charred oak barrels.
This process contributes to Jack Daniel’s unique smoothness and character.
Wild Turkey utilizes a proprietary yeast strain in its fermentation process. This yeast strain is a closely guarded secret, contributing to the distinct flavor profile of Wild Turkey bourbons.
In contrast, Jack Daniel’s also has a unique yeast fermentation strain. This yeast, combined with the high corn content in its grain bill, plays a significant role in shaping the whiskey’s sweet and mellow character.
Wild Turkey does not employ charcoal mellowing as part of its production process. Instead, the focus is on the traditional bourbon-making methods.
Conversely, Jack Daniel’s is renowned for its unique charcoal mellowing process, the Lincoln County Process.
After distillation, the whiskey is slowly filtered through sugar maple charcoal before aging. It distinguishes it as Tennessee whiskey and gives it the signature Jack Daniel’s taste.
Wild Turkey bourbon whiskeys are aged in new charred oak barrels for at least eight years, with some expressions being aged even longer.
Its extended aging period allows the whiskey to develop complex flavors, deep color, and a rich character, contributing to its bold and robust profile .
Jack Daniel’s has no age statement, but it is typically for 4-7 years in new charred oak barrels.
While this aging period is shorter than Wild Turkey, the additional step of charcoal mellowing during production contributes to a smoother and more approachable flavor profile.
Price Point & Value
Wild Turkey’s pricing varies by expression, but on average, it tends to be positioned at a slightly higher price than Jack Daniel’s.
For instance, a 750ml Wild Turkey 101 costs around $22.49 per 750ml bottle, while Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 costs roughly $17.99 per 750ml bottle.
For whiskey fans seeking a bolder, more complex whiskey, Wild Turkey is a decent entry-level bourbon whiskey.
“I want to ensure that we honor Wild Turkey’s roots in tradition while trying things that are different from what we have done in the past.” -Eddie Russell, Master Distiller
However, Jack Daniel’s provides solid value for those seeking a recognizable Tennessee whiskey without breaking the bank.
Which is stronger, Jack Daniels or Wild Turkey?
Wild Turkey is typically stronger than Jack Daniel’s. Wild Turkey bourbons often have a higher ABV, ranging from 40% to 50.5% or even higher for certain expressions like Wild Turkey 101.
In contrast, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 has an ABV of 40%, the standard for most core products.
Is Wild Turkey a top-shelf whiskey?
No, Wild Turkey is not typically considered a top-shelf whiskey.
While the alcoholic drink is highly regarded and appreciated by whiskey enthusiasts for its quality and robust flavor profile, it is more commonly classified as a mid-range or premium whiskey.
Is Jack Daniel’s considered strong?
No, Jack Daniel’s is not typically considered a strong whiskey in terms of alcohol strength (ABV). Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, their standard and most widely recognized product, has an ABV of 40%, a standard strength for many whiskeys.
Which is better for beginners, Jack Daniels or Wild Turkey?
Wild Turkey is better for beginners than Jack Daniel’s.
Wild Turkey 101 can be considered suitable for bourbon beginners due to its balanced flavor profile, smoothness despite a higher ABV, versatility for various consumption methods, and cost-effectiveness.
While Jack Daniels remains a timeless classic, Wild Turkey emerges victorious in the friendly duel between the two brands, offering a complex and captivating drinking experience.
Wild Turkey bourbon whiskey manages to outshine Jack Daniel’s with its deeper, more complex flavor notes. The oak and spice layers, coupled with a subtle fruitiness, add a layer of sophistication that elevates the taste of the whiskey.
Whiskey lovers will agree that considering the depth of flavor and higher ABV of Wild Turkey 101, a bottle unquestionably offers excellent value for your investment.