Matthew McConaughey’s first Wild Turkey memory was on a duck hunt in Arkansas.

“It was 13 degrees and my waders got a hole in the waist and filled up, and my legs were literally freezing,” McConaughey said in a Zoom interview. “My dad and I were so far from the cabin, my teeth were chattering and I was turning blue and my dad gave me a little Wild Turkey to warm up — and it damn sure helped.”

It’s fitting that McConaughey, who created Longbranch with Wild Turkey, would want the ultimate bourbon-based travel experience to focus on the time outdoors and communing with nature.

“I think a connection to nature’s time is essential. We live in a fast-paced world, always on our devices and everything has got to be quick and be efficient,” McConaughey said. “It’s important mentally and spiritually to kick outside of that. [Time in nature] is inviting you to go out and engage and see what’s around the corner, to take a hike, to let your own mind wander and think ‘what if.’ It is inviting you to think, ‘hey I don’t necessarily need to search for the answer I just need to put myself in a place where the answer comes to me.’”

To create the experience, the bourbon brand partnered with Walden Retreats, a compound of luxe glamping studios and suites along the cliffs of the Pedernales River in the Hill Country of Texas near Fredericksburg. Customers can now book stays which begin in March 2023 at the Longbranch suite, and for every package booked, the brand will match the cost with a donation to The Trail Conservancy, a local nonprofit dedicated to protecting Austin’s Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. McConaughey participated in a similar project in Australia in 2019.

Guests can add on special experiences to their package, like a private string concert by a campfire, a cocktail class, or night fly fishing with glow-in-the-dark fishing poles. Prices vary by season, but start at $425 per night.

Longbranch debuted in 2018, and is the first time that Wild Turkey master distiller Eddie Russell, whose father is legendary distiller Jimmy Russell, worked with someone outside the family to create a blend.

McConaughey has had an affinity for Wild Turkey 101 since his early 20s.

“I liked it because I liked its bite, I liked how its got an initiation to it, it’s not bourbon lite,” he said. “It became my bourbon of choice. When I created Longbranch with Eddie, the main thing is that third act when you swallow the bourbon, I wanted to sweeten that up just a hair and make it a bit smoother.”

Longbranch is left in the barrel for eight years, rather than the standard six for the 101, and is then mellowed with oak and mesquite charcoal, which McConaughey thinks ups the caramel finish.

McConaughey said the vacation packages are a metaphor for what he likes about Longbranch.

“It’s a luxurious comfortable drink, it’s a luxurious comfortable place. But it’s still got a bite to it. There’s wildlife out there, you don’t want to go running across that backlot barefoot,” he said. “You’re invited to engage with the elements there, and that’s a preferable five-star experience for me, rather than an insulated castle that doesn’t allow you or invite you to enjoy what’s around it, that naturally there.”

published 2022-11-02 19:34:17