Our Heritage

BOLD FROM
THE START
BOLD FROM
THE START

How we do, what we do — and where we do it — are equally important when it comes to making bourbon right.






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OUR MASTER DISTILLERS

  • Jimmy Russell smelling Wild Turkey in glass

    JIMMY RUSSELL

    Some call him, “the Buddha of Bourbon.” He calls himself, “Plain old Jimmy from Kentucky.” Everyone calls him the longest-tenured active Master Distiller in the world.

  • Eddie Russell smelling Wild Turkey

    EDDIE RUSSELL

    Only bold vision can fill big shoes. Son of Master Distiller Jimmy, Eddie rose the ranks just like his father, joining him as a Master Distiller in 2015.

Matthew McConaughey in a field with a glass of Wild Turkey

OUR CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Matthew McConaughey

It’s one thing to be the celebrity face of a brand. But when you’re truly inspired, you’ll roll up your sleeves and become a creative driving force for it.

OUR HISTORY

Discover how a rich past ushers in a bold future.

1954-1995
THE BIRTH OF WILD TURKEY

1855

Austin Nichols starts selling wine and spirits as a wholesale grocer. The business he starts would later own Wild Turkey.

1869

The Ripy brothers open their family distillery on Wild Turkey Hill in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

1893

The Ripy Brothers’ bourbon represents Kentucky at the World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois.

1940

Wild Turkey Bourbon gets its name after a distillery executive shares his bourbon with friends on an annual hunting trip — of course, they were after wild turkey.

1855-1939
THE RUSSELL EFFECT

1954

Master Distiller Jimmy Russell joins Wild Turkey. He’s the third in a line of distillers and learned his craft from Wild Turkey’s second master distiller, Bill Hughes, and Ernest W. Ripy, son of the original distiller.

1976

Wild Turkey introduces the world’s first bourbon liqueur as a way to attract even more people into the bourbon world, which eventually led to the creation of Wild Turkey’s American Honey.

1981

Eddie Russell, son of Jimmy Russell, joins Wild Turkey as a relief operator and begins to work his way up the ladder.

1991

Wild Turkey introduces our premium Rare Breed, one of the first barrel proof bourbons to go to market. 

1995

Kentucky Spirit, a single-barrel (one of the world’s firsts), 101-proof bourbon, is released.

2000 – TODAY
THE NEW VISION

2000

Master Distiller Jimmy Russell is inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

2004

Jimmy Russell celebrates his 50th year at the Wild Turkey distillery.

 2010

Eddie Russell is inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame by his father, Jimmy Russell.

 2015

Eddie Russell is officially given the title of master distiller, making Jimmy and Eddie the only active father and son duo of bourbon master distillers in the world.

 2016

Matthew McConaughey joins Wild Turkey as Creative Director.

 2018

Wild Turkey introduces Longbranch, a small-batch bourbon refined with Texas Mesquite and American Oak charcoals, and the first co-creation by Master Distiller Eddie Russell and Creative Director Matthew McConaughey.