Wild Turkey 101 and Early Times Bottled in Bond seem to be the quintessential entry-level bourbons. In fact, if you take a poll on any social media bourbon group of good bourbons under $30, you will find both of these products represented. However, in comparing these two "bottom-shelf" bourbons (don't take offense to this term "bottom-shelf"), I found two contrasting tastes and profiles. With that in mind, which one is better?
Before I get to my review, let's look at a general comparison of these two bourbons.
Distillery Notes Comparison
This is what the distilleries say about their products.
- Early Times BiB - Light caramel corn with hints of citrus rind, honey, and soft oak
- Wild Turkey 101 - Vanilla
- Early Times BiB - Soft caramel corn melds with shortbread cookie coated with a hint of chocolate and oak; a trace of cinnamon spice lingers in the deep sweetness.
- Wild Turkey 101 - Sweet. Bold. Smooth.
- Early Times BiB - Hints of caramel corn linger.
- Wild Turkey 101 - Spice with orange peel
The mash bills for these two popular bourbons are very similar.
- Early Times BiB - 79% Corn, 11% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
- Wild Turkey 101 - 75% Corn, 13% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
- Early Times BiB - 100 proof
- Wild Turkey 101 - 101 proof
- Early Times BiB - Brown-Forman Distillery
- Wild Turkey 101 - Wild Turkey Distilling Co, a division of Campari Group.
My Review: Wild Turkey 101 vs. Early Times Bottled in Bond
The noses are similar in some ways and different in others. I am getting an orange peel aroma in both bourbons with a little more spice from Wild Turkey 101 and more fruitiness and oak from Early Times.
Wild Turkey 101 has heavy spice and black pepper on the palate, but the viscosity is a little thin. Very bold and one-dimensional. A little buttery richness on the nose. However, Wild Turkey 101 got sweeter and richer as time went on. It's a bourbon that will grow on you the more you sip.
Early Times has an initial dominant black pepper palate with a thicker viscosity. Buttery oak and mild spicy caramel are distinguishable on the palate from the start. It gets sweeter the more you sip and the longer you let it sit. Early Times is smoother than Wild Turkey 101, but that doesn't mean it's better. Early Times also has a little more of a unique taste; nutty. It is a smooth neat drinker for this price point.
Early Times finish is the best part with its spicy kick.
- Nose goes to Wild Turkey.
- Palate - Tie (Two different experiences and profiles)
- The Finish goes to Early Times
I know this result may be a little disappointing, but I can't provide a definitive winner. "Which one is best" will depend on your personal preferences and I cannot decide which one I prefer. Frankly, both Wild Turkey 101 and Early Times Bottled in Bond are premier bourbons for their price point. They are two good bourbons that you can experience neat.