Whiskey Infused with Thanksgiving Dinner Tastes Surprisingly Good

Whiskey Infused with Thanksgiving Dinner Tastes Surprisingly Good
Courtesy of Tamworth Distilling‍

This is a review of the turkey-flavored whiskey Bird of Courage.

It's not uncommon for whiskey bros to post on social media in late November about how they're going to enjoy some Wild Turkey with their Thanksgiving dinners. Kudos to them for their creativity. 

Tamworth Distilling, a New Hampshire-based craft distillery, has taken the challenge of celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with turkey-infused whiskey as a challenge and, to accomplish this, they've created Bird of Courage, a whiskey that has roast turkey actually blended into the liquid itself. Aside from that, it is also the same distillery that is responsible for such spirits as the famous Deerslayer Venison Whiskey, Corpse Flower Durian Brandy, as well as Eau de Musc, a whiskey with beaver butt as its flavoring (“the oil that comes from the castor glands of North American beavers”, to be more precise).

This whiskey reminds me of mezcal de pechuga, a mezcal redistilled with raw chicken or turkey breast suspended in the still to impart flavor. Power says it wasn't really the inspiration, but "it was good to know we weren't completely alone in the world of avian liquors."

It's a fascinating process, combining gin and whiskey techniques, so let's dig deeper into the details. There's no doubt that this is a five-year-old bottled-in-bond bourbon distilled at Tamworth, with a familiar mash bill that contains 81 percent corn, 12 percent rye and 7 percent malted barley. The weird part begins now.

We used techniques more in keeping with gin production than bourbon production to infuse the whiskey with Thanksgiving dinners made from local ingredients in the Northeast. In addition to Flint corn, chestnuts, apples, cranberries, squash, sage, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and a roasted turkey, all traditional foods were prepared as if they were going to be consumed. A rotary evaporator still was used to re-distill the bourbon after infusing each separately. 

As Power explained via email, redistillation retains the base whiskey's character as well as the aroma of the infused material. Redistillates are each considered flavored whiskeys of their own within the production process. They get left behind because of the heavier aromatics that come from the oak.

To achieve the final proportion of 40 percent "aromatic distillates" and 60 percent bourbon, all these redistilled spirits were blended back together with the original unadulterated whiskey. However, Bird of Courage is now technically classified as a "flavored whiskey," but Power said these methods were still used to keep Bird of Courage classified as a whiskey by the TTB.


But of course, what matters is how the whiskey actually tastes, and I have to say that I am very impressed with the way it tastes. The nose of the whiskey is bright and crisp, with some lemongrass, cranberry, honey, and a bit of spice. In addition to the youthful wood aromas, savory notes, butter-roasted root vegetables, fresh sage and parsley, and a friendly clash between sweet and savory notes, the palate is ever-shifting and surprising. In order to make sure there is no mistaking the power of suggestion when it comes to knowing the thousands of elements that make up a whiskey, it cannot be underestimated.

However, I am in favor of Bird of Courage as it's pretty damn good and interesting to watch. A little bit about the name, according to Tamworth founder Steven Grasse, Benjamin Franklin actually believed the wild turkey would be a better symbol of America than an eagle, since it exhibits tenacious courage. The turkeys suffer at Thanksgiving, but the eagles rejoice because they are finally found on the tables at the holiday season, as well as in whiskey for the first time. You don't have to be a turkey when you can gobble down this fine craft whiskey, so don't be a turkey.

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