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Wild Turkey, a brand of San Francisco-based Campari America, is bringing back its Wild Turkey 101 Rye. After an absence from the market for approximately a year because of the unexpected high demand, the Kentucky straight rye whiskey is returning to bars in select markets this month.
Last year, increased demand for rye whiskey and growing enthusiasm for classic cocktails played a role in the depletion of 101 Rye’s aged stock, the company says. According to Nielsen data, rye whiskey sales jumped 41 percent in the last 52 weeks. Because of the time and care it takes to craft all Wild Turkey products, distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell could not keep up with the growing demand.
“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,” Jimmy Russell said in a statement.
Fans of Wild Turkey 101 Rye expressed their disappointment on Facebook and Twitter when the 101-proof liquor disappeared from store shelves. Bartender Erick Castro led the charge on Facebook by creating the group “Bring Back Wild Turkey 101 Rye,” calling for the whiskey’s return.
"It was definitely a tough blow to the cocktail world when Wild Turkey 101 Rye disappeared,” Castro said in a statement. “I always found it worked beautifully in cocktails, both stirred and shaken. Because of this, I am elated to hear that it will be available again for craft bartenders looking for a quality rye that shines in drinks we serve across the bar."
Because of the very limited stock, the brand will re-introduce 1-liter bottles targeting on-premise accounts in 21 markets across the country.
“To be completely frank, we didn’t realize bartenders had such a passion for it,” Jimmy Russell said in a statement. “Given the bartending community can be directly attributed for the current resurgence in rye [whiskey] and classic cocktails, we had to listen and take the necessary steps with our available aged stock to bring 101 Rye back.”