Wild Turkey Podcasts

367 – The Literal Rockstar of Bourbon with Bo Garrett of Montgomery Gentry and Wild Turkey



There’s not many people in the bourbon industry that have a story like our guest. Bo Garrett wanted a better life than working in the coal mines of eastern Kentucky. He picked up a guitar and left for Lexington, Kentucky to be discovered. He met some key people that would change his life forever and spent over 20 years together on the road as the lead guitarist for Montgomery Gentry while being sponsored by Jim Beam. After the tragic passing of Troy Montgomery, it sent Bo to a dark place and he needed something. After a fateful run-in with Jimmy Russell while having dinner with Fred Noe, he started giving tours at Wild Turkey and discovered a new passion and became one of their esteemed Brand Builders. After you hear this story, you will see that Bo is the literal rockstar of the bourbon world.

Show Notes:

  • Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about proofing based on taste or most money
  • Did you have a family history in moonshining?
  • When did you start getting into playing guitar?
  • What genre did you first start with?
  • What did the music career really take off?
  • What was your best and worst tour experience?
  • Do you miss life on the road and touring?
  • What is your guitar of choice?
  • Do you still keep in touch with everyone in the band?
  • How did Booker Beam and Montgomery Gentry come together?
  • Do you look back on your days on the road and wish you hunted more?
  • What made you want to be a tour guide at Wild Turkey when you weren’t touring?
  • How are you finding historical information and pictures to share on social media?
  • Are you digging up more history on Jimmy Russell as you spend time with him?
  • What else are you doing as a Brand Builder at Wild Turkey?
  • @wildturkey @montgomerygentry
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

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207 – A Rare Breed, Jimmy Russell of Wild Turkey

Today’s guest needs no introduction. He is one the most iconic living figures in bourbon today. He’s been on episodes 77, 105, and 175. He’s even got his own personalized scooter to get him around the distillery and that is Jimmy Russell. This podcast touches on his early years and how he was selected to become the next master distiller. He talks about the changes he saw at the distillery as it exchanged hands throughout the years. Also, we get to hear the story on the birth of Rare Breed and his opinion on chill filtering vs non-chill filtering debate.

Show Notes:

  • The history of JW Dant and Log Still Distillery – https://www.distillerytrail.com/blog/j-w-dant-investing-12-million-to-restart-historic-distillery-in-the-bourbon-capital-of-the-world/
  • Heaven Hill 7 Year Bottled in Bond Launch – https://www.facebook.com/bourbonpursuit/posts/2640636035998401?__tn__=K-R
  • Leave us a review! https://link.chtbl.com/LeaveAReview
  • This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about speaking at a Total Wine event in Atlanta.
  • Does limestone water make a difference in bourbon?
  • How long does it take to cook bourbon?
  • Can you burn the mash?
  • When did you start at the distillery?
  • What roles have you had at the distillery?
  • What Master Distiller trained you?
  • How did he decide he wanted to train you?
  • What were the early years like?
  • Was there anything from prohibition that affected the distillery operations when you started?
  • Will you all need to increase capacity soon?
  • What was it like when you first started traveling to talk about Wild Turkey?
  • What were your biggest challenges on the road?
  • Were you nervous when you first went out on the road?
  • Were you happy traveling and talking to the consumers?
  • What was the name of the distillery before Wild Turkey?
  • What was it like to distill then ship the bourbon away?
  • Tell us about the other former Lawrenceburg distilleries.
  • What was it like when you were out on the road? Do you think it helped grow the brand?
  • Do you prefer to travel or be at the distillery?
  • Tell us about Kentucky Spirit and Rare Breed.
  • How often are you going through and sampling barrels?
  • Do you have a favorite warehouse?
  • Do you have a favorite floor?
  • Why do you only have 7 floors?
  • What innovations have you seen throughout your time in the bourbon industry?
  • Talk about your rye mashbill.
  • What do you think of non-distilling producers?
  • Tell us about the inception of Rare Breed.
  • Do you like the barrel char flavor?
  • What do you think of chill vs. non-chill filtered?
  • What kind of steak do you like?
  • How much time do you spend at the visitor’s center?
  • What do you drive most of the time?
  • Are you excited to have Bruce at the distillery?
  • Did you ever want to own the distillery?
  • Why do whiskey consumers get enthralled with age statements?
  • Any life advice for younger generations?

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199 – The Future Faces of Wild Turkey with Bruce Russell and JoAnn Street

Bruce Russell and JoAnn Street both know their Wild Turkey distillation and family history like the back of their hand. Both have been brand ambassadors but are now transitioning to new roles. While JoAnn is developing the hospitality side, Bruce is learning the ins and outs of the distillery. This show dives into the personalities of these two as we discuss the effect of bringing fresh faces to the distillery and how they plan on keeping traditions alive.

Show Notes:

  • Episode 186 we feature Pam Heilman of Michter’s Distillery
  • 150 bottles remaining from 4 barrels of Pursuit Series
  • This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about fake whiskey.
  • JoAnn, do you want to get into working in the distillery?
  • Bruce, are they going to make you join the union?
  • How are you related to Jimmy?
  • How did you decide to get into the family business?
  • Talk about being a female in whiskey.
  • What does it mean to be new blood in the company?
  • Tell us about your background and how it will help with working in the distillery.
  • Did they have a daycare for you at the distillery when you were young?
  • What is your favorite Wild Turkey product?
  • Do you see yourself living in Lawrenceburg?
  • Give us your typical brand ambassador spiel for 80 proof and 101.
  • Tell us about Rare Breed and Kentucky Spirit.
  • Why is 101 Rye important?

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189 – Turkey Tell All with Master Distiller Eddie Russell of Wild Turkey

Eddie Russell from Wild Turkey needs no introduction. He’s one of the most honest Master Distillers in the industry and tells it like it is. This episode digs into the nuances of the Wild Turkey line up to see if we can figure out what could change. The biggest answer we all want to know is when will there be a barrel proof Russell’s Reserve? Tune in to find out.

Show Notes:

  • The week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick talks about value whiskey.
  • How often are you going to Jimmy with questions?
  • Do you feel like you have the job down?
  • When you retire do you think you will hang around the distillery like Jimmy?
  • Do you feel like you have to work at the distillery?
  • Since you travel so much, what airline are you loyal to?
  • When you travel, do you wear Wild Turkey gear?
  • Are there any travel destinations that have stood out to you?
  • Do you get to have any fun when you travel?
  • Are there any plans for changing barrel proof entry?
  • How can you not get 101 proof out of bourbon that goes in a 110?
  • What is the thought process behind where in the rickhouse you place the barrels to age?
  • Is 108 your target for Rare Breed?
  • How many barrels are being dumped into Rare Breed?
  • Talk about the warehouses. Do you see a difference in the whiskey coming out of the brick warehouses?
  • How often do you get the chance to take a gamble?
  • Do you see 81 still being prevalent in the market place?
  • How many more derivatives do you think you can do?
  • Are you wanting to bring in another recipe?
  • Will we ever see a barrel strength Russell’s Reserve?
  • Do you enjoy picking barrels with consumers?
  • Talk about the proof difference between Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit and Russell’s Reserve.
  • Tell us about the partnership with Matthew McConaughey.
  • Is it a goal to bring back the 8-year-old age statement?

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/ Master Distiller, podcast, Wild Turkey

175 – Turkey Family Tradition with Jimmy Russell, Eddie Russell, Bruce Russell, and JoAnn Street of Wild Turkey

Just the thing you needed to kick start your Thanksgiving season. We’ve had Jimmy and Eddie on the show and we’ve got upcoming episodes featuring Bruce and Joann, but I don’t think anyone has ever had all 4 of these people sit down at one time and talk. We go into bourbon itself, the family, the roles they are playing within the business, the new Kentucky Spirit glass design, and lots more. It’s a family affair with some exchanges of compliments from each around the table.
Show Notes:
  • Our first barrel pick for 2019 is going to be Buffalo Trace. View all of our barrel picks at https://www.patreon.com/bourbonpursuit
  • Fred published his article in Forbes for the 2018 best American Whiskey every day sipper.
  • Fred does Instagram Live for Best of 2018
  • Fred talks about his holiday gift guide on Forbes and why it was really hard to coming up new pairings in this week’s Above the Char – https://www.forbes.com/sites/fredminnick/2018/11/13/holiday-gift-guide-2018-the-most-money-minded-bourbons/
  • Bruce, they are really pressuring you to move back soon
  • Bruce, remember that panel we were on together?
  • Are you excited to have Bruce back Eddie?
  • Jimmy, how old were you when you started at the distillery?
  • What has changed from the operations standpoint from when you first started?
  • Have you all done recently to certify your warehouses or check them out after the Barton incident?
  • Jimmy when you were coming up the ranks, federal government would check everything. Not so much anymore
  • Do you think the distilling industry misses the oversight of the government?
  • What does “Master Distiller” mean to you, Eddie?
  • What about the flip side that a “Master Distiller” is just a marketer now?
  • You did have to change the entry proof at one time. Was that corporate pressure?
  • Why does some proof go down vs go up in some warehouses?
  • When people come in for a visit, do they want that level of detail?
  • Do you read your Yelp reviews?
  • Is the bartending community the gate to your future?
  • What’s the worst part about signing bottles?
  • Where do you see barrel finishes in the Wild Turkey line since the last Master’s Keep was finished?
  • It seems like a lot of flavored whiskeys have died down over time
  • Why are we still not experimenting with different mashes?
  • Bruce, you’re trying to revive the rye. talk about that.
  • Are you a scotch person?
  • Jimmy, what have you learned by the younger generations?
  • From RareBird101, what’s your honest opinion on the new Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit bottle?
  • So why isn’t the top level listening to you?
  • Choose an individual and take one word that embodies the person
  • View all Wild Turkey Podcasts

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165 – It’s Turkey Time with David Jennings of RareBird101

Is he the biggest Wild Turkey super fan out there? Without a doubt. David Jennings goes by the alter ego RareBird101. In this episode we explore his obsession with older dusty Wild Turkey and even some of the newest Russell’s Reserve offerings. We also spend some time speculating on our theories on what has changed over the years and if Wild Turkey is headed in the right direction with premium offerings.

Show Notes:

  • Before we dive right in, what’s your bourbon story?
  • What got you into Wild Turkey?
  • What keeps you interested in Wild Turkey?
  • Talk about your blog for a minute and what you do at Rarebird101
  • Think about some of those reviews you’ve done, because I’ve seen some real turkey unicorns in there from tradition to split labels to Christmas Rye. Do you have any standout favorites?
  • What is it about cheesy gold foil?
  • Jimmy says nothing has changed. But Be honest, do you think dusty Wild Turkey is better than today?
  • Since you’ve tasted almost everything in the turkey lineup, any thoughts on recreating that dusty flavor profile?
  • We posted on Instagram a while back about waiting in line for a Weller107 store pick because people like us are dumb. You were playing the angle that if everyone focused their attention on Russell’s Reserve picks you wouldn’t have to stand in line. I know you have an article on the 10 reasons why you should be buying Russell’s Reserve picks, what are some of those favorite reasons of yours?
  • How many different Russell’s Reserve picks do you have?
  • It seems that Wild Turkey limited releases don’t get many accolades. From Diamond to Master’s Keep. What’s you honest opinion? Do you feel they don’t deserve the high dollar or do you?
  • Did you sleep on Russell’s Reserve 1998 like I did?
  • When are you getting your chance to meet Matt McConaughey?
  • Support RareBird101 on Patreon

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/ Blogger, Ecosystem, podcast, Wild Turkey

105 – Behind a Russell’s Reserve Barrel Pick with Cork N Bottle, Reid & Emerald, and more at Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Barrel Selection Exclusive with Ed Bley of Cork N Bottle, Reid and Emerald of 1789b, Nick Dikeos of The Bourbon Mafia, and Jimmy Russell of Wild Turkey. Get an inside look at how these connoisseurs of bourbon choose barrels while Jimmy is rattling off more information and history than we knew before. This is a Bourbon Pursuit first, bringing you inside on a private barrel selection.

Show Notes:

  • Everyone introduce themselves
  • Ed, what’s your mentality going into a barrel pick?
  • Jimmy, what hasn’t been tried in this business?
  • Jimmy, you said Wild Turkey doesn’t produce anything outside of their own brands but what about Old Ripy and Bond and Lilliard?
  • Emerald, what’s bourbon like in Arizona?
  • Jimmy, talk about Chill Filtering
  • Ed, do you feel like we could be choosing barrels that have been passed on by others?
  • Jimmy talks about MGP, Schenley, and more
  • Nick, talk about off-profile picks and why they are desired
  • Emerald, how has barrel picking changed since bourbon has become so popular because you can’t get things like private ETL?
  • Reid, talk about the differences between choosing barrels at Four Roses
  • Jimmy, talk about the oak that goes into making the barrels
  • Jimmy, when it comes to local farmers, does farm to bottle really mean anything?
  • Jimmy, how did you get in trouble with the Wild Turkey pewter tops?
  • Ed, Reid, and Nick, what do you think collaborations of different stores and groups coming together to make something special?
  • Jimmy, talk about Parker Beam from Heaven Hill
  • These bottles will be in stores very soon!

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077 – More Than “Plain Ol’ Jimmy” with Master Distiller and Legend at Wild Turkey Jimmy Russell


Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller and Legend at Wild Turkey, sits down to tell his story. He thinks he’s “Plain Ol’ Jimmy” but once you hear his stories about childhood, befriending the likeness of greats in the industry, and sharing his wealth of knowledge you will see he really is an icon.

Show Notes:

  • I want to talk about your history before Wild Turkey.
  • Talk a little bit about your childhood and upbringing. Sports, basketball, track, baseball.
  • I know your father and grandfather were in this whiskey business, is that why you got into the bourbon industry?
  • Were you always around bourbon?
  • What made you come to Wild Turkey in beginning?
  • What was the state of Wild Turkey when you joined?
  • How big was the operation?
  • Who were your mentors?
  • How have you embraced a lot of modern distillation techniques with computers and automation taking over?
  • What was life like for you before the boom?
  • Did you ever make any radical changes to Wild Turkey?
  • You were best friends with the greatest minds in the industry before bourbon was cool. Talk about the comradery between people like you, Elmer, Booker, and the like.
  • Now that bourbon is in the spotlight, are you hesitant on taking a backseat because at 82 years old, you won’t stop and you continue to travel to talk about Wild Turkey.
  • Your son Eddie now has taken the spot light. What’s it mean to you that you get to trust the business to him?
  • From @bourbonooga: Do they wish the old distillery was still down by where Warehouse A sits?
  • From @Primo55: The eternal debate: Cheesy Gold Foil 12yr or Split Label 12 yr?
  • What do you think is the best product that ever came out of here?
  • Give us your thoughts on the 6-8 vs older aged bourbons?
  • From @BreakingBourbon: Share a drink with anyone past/present/future who would it be and why?
  • What are some of those things that you want to leave as a legacy?
/ Master Distiller, podcast, Wild Turkey

074 – Apprenticeship and Tradition at Wild Turkey with Master Distiller Eddie Russell


Eddie Russell, Master Distiller at Wild Turkey, joins the show to discuss growing up around the distillery, apprenticeship, and what tradition has taught him about the business.

Show Notes:

  • Talk about your childhood. What was your upbringing like?
  • What sports did you play?
  • You were also going to play college ball at one point
  • How did you get roped into this operation?
  • In 2015 you were named Master Distiller here at Wild Turkey. Talk about your job now.
  • Did your formal education prepare you for being a Master Distiller?
  • What are some of the biggest lessons your father taught you?
  • What was life like before the bourbon craze?
  • Do you and your dad have the same flavor pallet?
  • Your dad has said time and time again he’s hard-headed and old fashioned. What are some of the traditions here at Wild Turkey you intend on keeping?
  • Do you feel a sense of pressure?
  • From Erik Hasselgärde on Facebook: Bourbon is rooted in tradition, some from 200 years ago, some from 50. What are they learning about bourbon today, that they hope to pass on to future bourbon producers?
  • From Ryan Oberleitner: Why has their entry proof been raised over the years? What affect do they think that has had?
  • Do you plan on bring the 13yr age stated export here stateside?
  • From Jack Johnson on Facebook: When they reach 100 years (total together) as Master Distillers (which will occur in less than 18 months), can we expect some outstanding special editions?
  • From- Will T @iamwillt: Can we please get age and warehouse info on private and single barrels? It would give us reason to buy multiples.
  • What’s one thing that annoys you in the bourbon industry?
  • Do the ladies pay attention to you when Matthew McConaughey is around?
  • Last year you all came out with Russells Reserve 1998. Talk about that release because I’m mad at myself I didn’t drop the money on it and people are raving it’s one of the best things to come out of Wild Turkey
  • What’s next for Eddie Russell?
/ Master Distiller, podcast, Wild Turkey

042 – Wild Turkey is a Bourbon Staple with Matt Gandolfo, Brand Ambassador


Matt Gandolfo, Brand Ambassador for Wild Turkey, talks history of the brand, non-GMO grains, each of the expressions and the new “Decades” release set for May 2016.

Show Notes:

  • We kick off the show talking about one of our past guests, Marianne Barnes, and the new name for the Old Taylor Distillery.
  • Tell us about your first encounter with bourbon
  • Tell us about your role and what it consists of
  • Why is Wild Turkey 101 and not 100?
  • How did it grow to a business from 101?
  • What did the name Austin Nichols mean to Wild Turkey?
  • So why remove the name Austin Nichols from the brand?
  • What are some of things during the process makes Wild Turkey unique compared to other brands?
  • What does Non-GMO products give you in regards to quality?
  • What’s it like hanging around Jimmy Russell?
  • Talk about the individual expressions and the differences between each.
  • Talk about the new release called “Decades” that will be coming in May 2016
  • Is there something that holds true to the quote “Older turkey is better turkey”?
  • If you have to have one Wild Turkey product on the shelf as a staple, which do you choose?