Last week I reviewed a Wild Turkey rye and here now is a Wild Turkey bourbon. Russell’s Reserve is the brand name they use for their higher-end releases. There are currently two regular releases of bourbon under the Russell’s Reserve label—one a 10 yo bottled at 45% and one a single barrel release at 55%. Similarly there’s a 6 yo Russell’s Reserve Rye at 45% and a single barrel version at 52%. What the exact distinction is between the whiskey bottled as Russell’s Reserve and under Wild Turkey’s various other labels, I’m not sure but I’m sure somebody will be along shortly to fill in my ignorance. This particular single barrel is from a further subset of Russell’s Reserve’s single barrel program: it’s one of many private barrel selections they’ve bottled for stores and clubs. This one was selected by an outfit called the Cleveland Bourbon Club. I have no idea who they are but they’ve bottled a number of bourbons, including three Russell’s Reserve single barrels. As per the sample label from my source, the indomitable Michael K., this was from barrel 93 and at 55%. However, on the club’s website, barrel 93, which appears to be their first Russell’s Reserve selection (you have to look at the picture), is listed at 113 proof. As to whether the Michael or the website is in error, I am not sure. Anyway, as per their site this is 8 years old.
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel (55%; Cleveland Bourbon Club Selection; barrel 93; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Quintessential bourbon nose: caramel corn, charred oak and just a bit of a herbal rye kick. As it sits a mix of dried orange peel and leather develops in the background. With a bit of air there’s a leafy note and also a cereal note. A splash of water brightens it up and pulls out more rye (cold black tea)
Palate: The same stuff as from the nose but it’s brighter with more of the orange peel. Very balanced and very drinkable at full strength. Gets spicier with time with some cinnamon and clove joining the oaky bite. Water pushes back the oak and spice and pulls out more of the fruit and also some cocoa.
Finish: Medium. No new development here. With time there’s more sweetness at the end along with the oaky and leafy notes. Longer with water and fruitier here too.
Comments: This is very nice indeed. And there’s a clear through line from the 101 proof rye to this. Hmmm, I’m beginning to wonder why I don’t drink more bourbon and rye…A good selection by the club! I liked it better with water but I know that is not the way of the bourbon maven: I am sorry [I am not].
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks to Michael for the sample!
WT/Russell’s is the best thing going in bourbon and rye! Thankfully, most people are running around trying to find overrated and inconsistent stuff from sexier brand names. The current WT101 bourbon from within in the last 1-2 years is seriously good stuff.