Inside Matthew McConaughey-Inspired Longbranch Ranch at Walden Retreats

Always the actor, McConaughey used cinematic language to describe the bourbon, equating the experience of drinking it as having a three-act structure with an exciting finale. “[Wild Turkey] 101 comes and goes with some elbow grease,” McConaughey says. “It’s a real bourbon. It’s supposed to be. But I wanted the finish of Longbranch to be a hair easier. The caramel in the third act and that subtle smoky mesquite—that sweetness and smokiness going down—that’s the difference with Longbranch.”

Bartender with tattooed arm pouring cocktail into glass with bottle of Longbranch whiskey on bar
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At a recent event in New York City, master distiller Eddie Russell acknowledged how different Longbranch is from what Wild Turkey usually produces. “It’s probably as far away from the DNA of [Wild Turkey] 101 as anything we’ve ever released,” he says. “But it’s a great whiskey and meets a different taste profile.”

So why did McConaughey partner with Wild Turkey—out of all the storied Kentucky distilleries and Texas whiskeys on offer?

The decision to collaborate with this brand and, father and son master distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell, specifically, all came down to quality of the “juice,” as McConaughey calls it, and relationships.

“Family stood out really quickly—how important family lineage is to them and to me,” he says. “The second thing that stood out was hearing them tell stories about how many times they could have changed to pander to what the new fad was…’bourbon light’ or white spirits. And they said, ‘No, we got our favorite juice right here, we’re gonna stick to it.’ I found many times in my life, you change by staying the same.”

Wood ranch lit up at nighttime
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Still, I was curious if there were any plans, or even a little bit of pressure from parent company Campari bigwigs, to release another type of whiskey under the Longbranch name—maybe a rye or some kind of cask finish. McConaughey says he and Eddie have discussed a few ideas, but for now he wants to “trust it for a minute.”

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