Remembering the Wild Turkey fire.
On May 9th, 2000, a huge seven story warehouse in Anderson, Kentucky became engulfed in flames, destroying more than 17,000 oaken barrels of Wild Turkey and sent flaming bourbon into the local water supply. The liquor never actually got into the tap water. The nearby water plant was shut down as the bourbon, some of it superbly well-aged at 15 years old, splashed by on its way into the Kentucky River. But the warehouse about 100 yards up the hill was reduced to rubble in the blaze.
Several hundreds of thousands of fish across 66 miles of the river died. The good people at Wild Turkey reportedly paid $256,000 to help restore the population of our gilled friends. Apparently the fish were not accustomed to drinking like a fish. Anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of sampling some “Kickin’ Chicken” would argue that the most devastating loss was the loss of bourbon.
Wild Turkey’s history can be traced back to 1869, when the Ripy family opened their distillery, on what has come to be known as “Wild Turkey Hill”. Its famous name originated from a group of friends’ annual Wild Turkey hunting trip in 1940, when Ripy distillery executive Thomas McCarthy brought along some of his company’s wares. His hunting buddies enjoyed it so much, that the following year they asked him to bring more of that “Wild Turkey” bourbon, and the rest is history.