Wild Turkey Founders
The Wild Turkey Distillery is part of the international mega-corporation Campari America that produces over 27 brands, labels and variations of North American whiskey including bourbon, its biggest distillery is still in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The company and its distillery is now the sixth largest producer of Bourbon and North American whiskies in the world. Wild Turkey’s Founders are dominated by two families in the Ripy family and the Russell family.
James Ripy an immigrant from Ireland settled in a small town in Kentucky called Lawrenceburg around 1830. Ripy later became a successful merchant and distributor of household goods including whiskey in the mid 1840’s and 1850’s. He started buying up a number of small distilleries in and around Anderson County. James had two sons that lived to adulthood, James P. Ripy and T. B. Ripy.
T. B. Ripy
The Rippy Brothers Distillery named after the two sons of James Ripy that he had hired to run the place, Thomas Beebe Ripy and James P. Ripy. Thomas would go on to become the largest distiller in the world during the two decades in the 1890's and 1900's. Thomas Ripy's Bourbon was chosen from over 400 to represent the State of Kentucky at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.
Russell's beginning in the whiskey business started off by sweeping the floors at the distillery not five miles from where he grew up in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Now after 60 years passion for his work, Master Distiller Jimmy Russell has become a Global Ambassador, not just for Wild Turkey but for the entire Bourbon Industry.
In 1940, McCarthy took a barrel of the Ripy Bourbon to a hunting trip in North Carolina. On that trip, McCarthy hosted a Turkey Hunt and invited some of their distributors. McCarthy was entertaining the hunters throughout the hunt and stopped to share some of his fine whiskey right from the barrel. As it came out of the barrel it was smooth, spicy and at 101 proof. Everyone on the trip raved about the taste and less than two years later the Wild Turkey 101 brand was introduced in 1942.