$$ — 54.1% ABV — 6 to 12 years
It's unlikely for an American not to at least be aware of Wild Turkey Bourbon. It's cemented in the top 5 best-selling Bourbon distillers alongside Jim Beam, Jack Daniel's, Evan Williams and Maker's Mark — but, even though it's nowhere near the oldest Bourbon around, somehow Wild Turkey feels the most star-spangled.
Named for a fateful turkey-hunting trip, an Austin Nichols Imports exec brought along some whiskey made at the Ripy Distillery. Soon after, he got requests from his friends for "some of that wild turkey whiskey." America's #2 bird (behind the bald eagle, of course) proved to be so popular, Nichols bought the distillery.
Wild Turkey has since become one of the most ubiquitous whiskey brands; it's always somewhere in the Country Top 100 or a Stephen King novel or an episode of NCIS. That's rather apropos, because Wild Turkey is also about as stereotypical a Bourbon as you can buy. Imagine the way American whiskey tastes, and that's basically Wild Turkey: corn-sweet and vanilla-oak, with a little spice on the finish.
Some fans argue Rare Breed doesn't beat Wild Turkey 101, which hedges closely to the original 8-year-old expression. Either is good for just about any use: spike your beans, build a cocktail, or just sip it on the rocks. To each his own, but Rare Breed's slightly minty taste and barrel strength makes it a greatly favored choice for highballs.