Longbranch — the much-hyped bourbon collaboration between Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey — was first released in May of 2018. At the time, it got some great buzz and solid reviews. But the whiskey has seen a recent spike in popularity thanks to a new advertising campaign (directed by and starring McConaughey) and the fact that quarantined, stir-crazy, election-stressed drinkers are looking for something unique to try outside of their standard bottles.
McConaughey’s expression definitely fits that bill. The Texas-born actor didn’t just slap his name on this whiskey, sip it in a commercial, grab his paycheck, and call it a day. His commitment to the craft of distilling and time spent with the Wild Turkey team has been heavily publicized. As has the Texas connection — the flavors of True Detective star’s home state are all over this expression.
While it was born as a Kentucky bourbon, Longbranch — “refined with Texas Mesquite and oak charcoals” — tastes like Texas in whiskey form. It’s also the first time in Master Distiller Eddie Russell’s career that he’s launched a bottle bearing someone else’s signature, thus signaling how involving McConaughey was in its creation. For those eager to test it, the expression is available nationwide and isn’t too difficult to find.
Check out our tasting notes, below.
Distillery: Wild Turkey
Named for the close family friends that “form the longest branches of our family trees,” Longbranch is a bourbon to be shared with friends and family alike. As we pointed out above, McConaughey was very hands-on during the creation of this expression. He and Russell spent hours comparing notes, sampling, and testing various combinations before they found the right recipe.
To create the unique Texas/Kentucky combination, this whiskey was first filtered through American white oak charcoal before being filtered through Texas Mesquite wood-based charcoal. The bourbon is then aged for 8 years in charred oak barrels. The result is a mellow, easy-drinking bourbon that bridges the gap between smoky and sweet.
This unique bourbon deserves to be nosed before you dive in and sip it. You’ll be met with aromas of subtle cinnamon spice, rich vanilla, and creamy caramel. The first sip yields hints of charred oak, butterscotch, brown sugar, and candied orange peel. The finish is long, warming, slightly dry, and filled with sticky toffee, sweet cream, and a perfect whiff of mesquite smoke at the very end.
While not a bad whiskey by any means, you should be aware that Longbranch is only $40 for a reason. It’s not an exquisite product — but it is a unique and enjoyable one. Mellow, smooth, easy to drink, and won’t break the bank.