Using high-resolution particle image velocimetry, we measure velocity profiles, the wind Reynolds number and characteristics of turbulent plumes in Taylor–Couette flow for a radius ratio of 0.5 and Taylor number of up to 6:2 109. The extracted angular velocity profiles follow a log law more closely than the azimuthal velocity profiles due to the strong curvature of this D 0:5 set-up. The scaling of the wind Reynolds number with the Taylor number agrees with the theoretically predicted 3=7 scaling for the classical turbulent regime, which is much more pronounced than for the wellexplored D 0:71 case, for which the ultimate regime sets in at much lower Taylor number. By measuring at varying axial positions, roll structures are found for counterrotation while no clear coherent structures are seen for pure inner cylinder rotation. In addition, turbulent plumes coming from the inner and outer cylinders are investigated. For pure inner cylinder rotation, the plumes in the radial velocity move away from the inner cylinder, while the plumes in the azimuthal velocity mainly move away from the outer cylinder. For counter-rotation, the mean radial flow in the roll structures strongly affects the direction and intensity of the turbulent plumes. Furthermore, it is experimentally confirmed that, in regions where plumes are emitted, boundary layer profiles with a logarithmic signature are created.