Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel
Out of the gate you might not know anything about Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, but after this review I think I will have made you a fan of the bourbon and eager to go pick up a bottle. I picked up this bottle back in the spring before turkey hunting season. The reason I know the timing is because the National Wild Turkey Federation has their conference here in Nashville at the Gaylord Convention Center every year. This year one of my local liquor shops sent out an email saying that Jimmy Russell, the Master Distiller from Wild Turkey would be here at the store signing bottles.
I figured this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. To actually meet the man that puts his name on these bottles and is behind all the great juice that comes out of the Austin, Nichols distillery there in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. So that afternoon I left work early and heading up to the shop. The email said he was going to be leaving by 6 p.m. to get back to the conference so I knew I had a tight timeframe.
Luckily once I got to the store there wasn’t much of a line. So I got to sit and talk to Mr. Jimmy Russell. He’s an incredibly nice man and we just talked about whiskey for 30 minutes while others came up he chatted with them, and then always back to me. He could tell I was a big fan and not just there for the free tastings. I ended up buying a 2 bottles, one of the Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, and the other of the 10 year small batch (which I’ll review next!).
The bottles for both of those expressions are identical in shape. There is a bit of difference in coloring though. The Single Barrel has a barrel graphic on the front. The small batch has the number 10 on it with some different colors to help distinguish the two. However, my favorite part of both barrels is the raised signature molded into the glass on the shoulder of the bottle. Mr. Russell has his name forever tied to this bottle and the juice inside of it through that etching.
This Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel comes out at 110 proof. It’s got around 8-9 years of age on it but they non-chill filter it to keep all the gorgeous coloring to the whiskey. I have a soft spot on my palate for single barrels expressions. My two favorite bourbons are single barrels. So I have a feeling I’m going to like this as well.
As soon as I open the bottle I’m rushed with notes of molasses and slight hints of spice. It’s a very rich and complex nose. I get faint hints of different notes every time I swirl around the glass. I can pick up a dark fruit and that strong oaky note that you would expect. Once it opens up a bit more I get a dominant vanilla spice. Off to a great start so far.
The first thing I notice about this Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel on the palate is the honey note. It’s akin to sorghum and that molasses coming through the nose. Very tasty overall. Again, just like the nose, very rich and complex. That dark fruit shows up again and the oak is very distinguishable. I know they use a deep alligator char in their barrels. You can definitely taste it in this bourbon.
There are some faint notes of anise in here as well. One thing that I love about this whiskey is that the flavor just sits on your tongue for quite a while.
The finish is nice and thick. The flavor hangs around along with the heat which keeps you wanting to go back and take another sip. Which I continue to do so until it eventually runs out in my glass.
This Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is an absolutely outstanding bourbon. Again, another single barrel expression that has made me a huge fan! I’m easily giving this one a 10/10. There is so much going on with this bourbon that it’s hard to pinpoint all the flavors. What I love even more about it, is the fact that the next bottle I buy will probably taste different. One of the great things about single barrels. The core elements are always there, but you get to find new outliers of flavor that come out at different intensities and keep you on your toes with every bottle.
Seriously though, if you haven’t tried this single barrel yet, do yourself a favor and pick one up. It’s on the higher end of the price range at around $50 a bottle, but it’s well worth it.