Russell’s Reserve 10 Year
Russell’s Reserve 10 Year
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Finally we get to talk a little about Wild Turkey Distillery out of Lawrenceburg, KY. The makers of Russell’s Reserve and many other fine whiskeys, Wild Turkey owes a great deal of its success to Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, who has been with the company for 60 years–making him the longest tenured Master Distiller in the entire industry. That is quite a feat, and I can’t imagine his record will be broken anytime soon. Wild Turkey recently released Wild Turkey Diamond to honor Jimmy’s 60th anniversary, I had the pleasure to try it on my birthday, however I don’t have a bottle myself so not sure I’ll do a proper review of it on this site unless I find one (you may have noticed I only review bottles that I own and can take cool pictures of!). One more thing about Jimmy–the fact that he has basically been drinking bourbon every day for sixty years and is now 80 and doing just fine means that us “friends of the bottle” are all gonna be ok right? RIGHT? Sure. Hats off to Jimmy and to his son, Eddie, who will fully take over for him once he calls it quits for good. If a killer palate and good taste are hereditary than I’m not worried at all about the future of Wild Turkey.
You may guess that Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Bourbon is a pretty special product since these guys put their name on it, and you’d be right. I don’t know how much they bottle a year, but it is considered “Small Batch,” and it’s much more limited than their Wild Turkey 101 and Wild Turkey 81 releases. Jimmy and Eddie hand select these barrels from the center of the aging houses, and the barrels used are supposedly the “Alligator Char” variety, meaning the inside of the barrels have been charred so heavily that they resemble alligator skin. There are typically four levels of barrel charring on white oak barrels, and the fourth level, or the alligator char, is the heaviest. I don’t know why all barrels aren’t charred to this degree–it seems to really add a ton of complexity and awesome flavor. I challenge the big guys out there (love to see Buffalo Trace do this) to put out a series of the same bourbon aged the same amount of time in the same rickhouse on the same floor but let us see what different levels of barrel char do to a spirit.
So I have already showed my hand, and yes I do love this bourbon. Let me tell you why. I’ve probably said this before about another bourbon, but I’ll say it again here–this is bourbon that tastes like…BOURBON. What I mean is it has all the requisite notes in a beautiful, balanced way. If someone wanted to know what bourbon tasted like, and I could only pick one bourbon to illustrate that to them, I would choose this one. I’m not saying this is the best bourbon on the market, I’m saying it highlights the flavor profile of “Bourbon” as a broad category so perfectly, it basically defines the word. On the nose you get vanilla, raisins (or as I like to call them, “dried grapes”), apple, honey, and flowers. The taste is more bready with cinnamon, brown sugar, and caramel, but somehow not too sweet and finishes with a nice, short heat. Perfect balance. Most whiskeys this light bodied are not this packed with flavor. Smooth as hell. Dang. Love it.
For the price, this is one of the best value whiskeys on the market, and is a great bourbon to offer to someone who is not sure if they like bourbon or not. It has started slowly creeping up in price though though, I even saw it for $40 at one store, so grab a couple bottles now and make this last. I highly recommend drinking this straight, no water, no ice. It’s only 90 proof guys, come on!
Rating: 8.7 / 10
Bought at an Asheville, NC ABC store for $30, though it’s usually around $35 these days.