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Wild Turkey 101 Rye returns after bartender backlash

Campari has resurrected its Wild Turkey 101 Rye following a Facebook campaign led by US bartender Erick Castro.

Wild Turkey 101 Rye disappeared from shelves last year following unexpected demand

Stock shortages coupled with an unexpectedly high demand saw Wild Turkey 101 Rye – a 50.5% abv rye whiskey – leave the US market for around a year.

However a band of bartenders and consumers took to Facebook, with Castro creating the fan page “Bring Back Wild Turkey 101 Rye”.

“It was definitely a tough blow to the cocktail world when Wild Turkey 101 Rye disappeared. I always found it worked beautifully in cocktails,” said Castro.

Despite struggling to keep up with soaring demand for rye whiskey, volumes of which have grown 41% in the past 52 weeks (Nielsen), brand owner Gruppo Campari is bringing back Wild Turkey 101 Rye in limited quantities.

A small allocation of one-litre bottles will now be distributed to select on-trade accounts across 21 markets in the US. The group will meanwhile continue to produce its Wild Turkey 81 Rye, a lower abv product featuring a blend of four and five-year-old rye whiskeys.

Wild Turkey distiller Jimmy Russell said the demand from bartenders for rye whiskey was a complete surprise. “I have been working in this business for 60 years and if someone told me just five years ago rye whiskey was going to be one of the hottest categories in the spirits industry, I would have balked at the notion,” he said.

“To be completely frank, we didn’t realise bartenders ahd a passion for it. Given the bartending community can be directly attributed for the current resurgence in Rye and classic cocktails, we had to listen and take the necessary steps with our available aged stock to bring 101 Rye back,” he added.

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