Russell’s Reserve 10

Russells Reserve
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!

7 thoughts on “Russell’s Reserve 10

  1. This bourbon has changed labels a number of times and my side by side tastings always resulted in preferring the older label. I wonder which one you had. The higher strength single barrels are not a full 10 years old but I prefer them over the 10yr 90pf and it’s def better than the current Rare Breed.

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      • This is the newer label, that looks like this (second bottle from top). I bought it sometime in 2012 ± 1 year, I believe. Opened three weeks before the sample was drawn. My own notes were quite brief (I don’t have the time I once had to wax lyrical over my whiskies): “Great depth, too woody. Very good for blending. 3*”. I mixed some into WT101 to add depth but I put too much. As a disclaimer, WT101 is my well bourbon and I generally like the WT products a lot.

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  2. Your comments, pleasant, generic, unbalanced, pretty much summarize all of my recent experiences with Wild Turkey.

    Some history of the Russell’s Reserve series: It started in the late ’90s as line of Wild Turkey bottled at 10 years old and 101 proof; those old bottles are much loved and sought after by bourbon fans. Sometime in the mid 2000s they discontinued that original bottling and made Russell’s Reserve into its own label with a 6 yo rye and a 10 year old bourbon both at 90 proof. Then, a couple of years ago, they added the single barrel 110 proof bourbon. In the works, they have a single barrel rye and a limited release bourbon distilled in 1998.

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  3. The 110 is pretty good, IMO, but pretty different from Rare Breed. RB is more representative of the agressive side of Turkey and RRSB is the fruity side. I just picked out a barrel of the RRSB with the Georgia Bourbon Society and it was pretty damn good. Otherwise, meh.

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