For the benefit of those who know even less about bourbon than I do: Russell’s Reserve is a Wild Turkey product, named for their master distiller, Jimmy Russell. The series was first launched in 1999, I believe. I call it a series because there have been and are a number of different releases from Wild Turkey with the Russell’s Reserve name on them. In addition to this 10 yo bourbon, there’s a 6 yo rye available now, for instance; and there has also been a single barrel release of the bourbon (plus store exclusive versions). And, I believe there have been other bottle and label designs as well (and possibly other strengths as well). Those who know more about the ins and outs of the series/name should kindly write in below.
Anyway, as always, please take this bourbon review with an extra pinch of salt. Bourbon is a side-interest for me; while I do enjoy it, I very much approach it with the biases and filters of a single malt drinker.
Russell’s Reserve 10 (45%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Corn sweetness with cinnamon, some honey and some citrus (orange peel). On the second sniff there’s a lot more of a herbal nature (mint, some dill) and also some pine. The citrus expands with time and some vanilla shows up to keep it company. A few drops of water push the mint back and emphasize the softer vanilla.
Palate: Starts out a little bit blank and then there’s an almost sharp hit of mint and then quite a bit of spicy oak (cinnamon and oak). The sweeter notes are here too but the wood is dominant. With time all the other stuff from the nose begin to expand here too and the oak starts to calm down (or maybe I’m getting used to it) and just provides a spicy frame. Gets more herbal as it goes. Water doesn’t really do a whole lot for the palate, mostly washing it out.
Finish: Long. The oak remains dominant too start but then begins to yield to the cinnamon and mint. With more time some of the sweetness hangs around as well. Major menthol coolness with water.
Comments: On the nose it seemed like a pleasant, somewhat generic bourbon (I don’t mean this as an insult; maybe “quintessential” would be a better word). The palate seemed unbalanced at first to me with far too much oak in the mix (compared to the rest of the notes), but it mellowed out with air and water. It’s also possible that the oak seemed stronger to me at first as this is the first bourbon I’ve had in a few weeks. Anyway, nice but I don’t know that I’d buy a bottle. Bourbon mavens: is the higher strength, single barrel version very different? And how does it compare to Wild Turkey Rare Breed?
Rating: 84 points.
Thanks to Florin for the sample!