Jimmy & Eddie Russell together have nearly 100 years of experience between them, and that show in their Russell’s Reserve line from Wild Turkey Bourbon.

Family time

It’s nice when generations can spend time together. Not just for the companionship, but for the passing of knowledge that only comes from experience. It seems to me that in the whisky and bourbon industries, you see a lot of kids following their parents into the distilling business, starting at the bottom rung of the ladder and learning as they grow into the company. One such example is that of Jimmy Russell and Eddie Russell of Wild Turkey Bourbon and Russell’s Reserve.

Jimmy Russell has been the Master Distiller at Wild Turkey for over 60 years, and their product line is a direct representation of Jimmy’s careful stewardship. As their website states, “Jimmy Russell is the longest-tenured active master distiller in the world…within the community of bourbon makers, he’s often called one more thing: “The Master Distiller’s Master Distiller” ”

High Praise indeed. Think about all that knowledge! And it’s not going to be lost…Jimmy’s son, Eddie, has been at Wild Turkey for over 30 years, and was recently himself promoted to Master Distiller. Together, Jimmy and Eddie have added Russell’s Reserve to their lineup, a premium bourbon that’s matured in a deep char barrel, given the choice center-cut barrels from the center of the rick house, and aged longer and bottled at a higher proof than the rest of the Wild Turkey line. It’s also delicious, as you’ll see in my tasting notes below.

 

Wild Turkey Bourbon in bottle & glass with barrelhead graffiti
Some graffiti from “the new guy” (Photo credit: Wide Open Eats)

 

Here’s how the tasting at Gordon’s DTX was introduced, “Gordon’s has always been a huge fan of Wild Turkey and just this past summer the Gordon’s Whiskey Team spent hours scouring the warehouses with Eddie Russell and ended up with two exquisite single casks. We commonly refer to these casks as “Warehouse M” and “Warehouse H”. We want you to join in on tasting Gordon’s Private Casks but also a few of the forgotten favorites from the distillery.”

I’ve had (and written about) Kentucky bourbons before, but this lineup was truly special. Let’s get to it then…

 

Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve lineup in bottles

Russell’s Reserve and Wild Turkey Bourbon

At Gordon’s DTX, January 17, 2018

Russell's Reserve Rye Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey 6yr

45% ABV
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: American Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Straight Rye Whiskey, Whiskey
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: lightly sweet, caramel, caraway seeds underneath
  • Taste: starts soft with cinnamon, rye takes over with hazelnut notes, medium body that lightly coats the mouth
  • Finish: the warmth fades slowly with cloves
  • Comments: a nice sip to introduce rye

Russell's Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Single Barrel

52% ABV
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: American Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Single Barrel, Straight Rye Whiskey, Whiskey
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: very light nose, brown sugar, rye is very subtle
  • Taste: the rye presents strongly (despite the light nose), medium body, lightly lemony
  • Finish: the pepper and cloves linger, but it’s mostly rye that’s the lasting flavor
  • Comments: single note, but pleasantly so

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel 

58.4% ABV
A blend of 6, 8, & 12 year old whiskies
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: American Whiskey, Bourbon, Cask Strength, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Whiskey
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: thickly sweet, candy corn, clover honey
  • Taste: starts soft and sweet, brown sugar rises quickly, thin body, warm spices take over
  • Finish: the cinnamon rises and levels out, the warmth lingers
  • Comments: very nice! I really like this one

Russell’s Reserve 10 yr Straight Bourbon Whiskey

45%ABV
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: American Whiskey, Bourbon, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Whiskey
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: cotton candy, with vanilla beans and caramel, a little rye at the end
  • Taste: starts as sweet caramel candy, then the peppery cloves rises, thin body
  • Finish: menthol heats up as the pepper fades
  • Comments: soft and easy

Gordon's Private Barrel of Russell's Reserve Bourbon - Warehouse M

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: American Whiskey, Bourbon, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Whiskey
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: maple sugar, slightly lemony underneath
  • Taste: thick body, immediate allspice and cayenne
  • Finish: the pepper disappears with brown sugar
  • Comments: it’s strong and very good

Gordon’s Private Barrel of Russell’s Reserve Bourbon – Warehouse H

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: American Whiskey, Bourbon, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Whiskey
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: light nose of brown sugar
  • Taste: caramel and coffee, then cinnamon
  • Finish: the thick coating makes for a pleasant finish of sugar and a deeper flavor of warm spices
  • Comments: thick, rich, and very drinkable

Gordon's Private Barrel of Russell's Reserve Bourbon - Warehouse O

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: American Whiskey, Bourbon, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Whiskey
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: a hint of evergreen with corn sweetness
  • Taste: rye notes, caraway seeds, eucalyptus
  • Finish: the finish fades quickly
  • Comments: would be good on its own, away from a lineup
Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve lineup closeup
The result of Jimmy & Eddie Russell’s many years of experience producing bourbon

 

Despite an earlier snowstorm, I managed to get to this week’s Whisky Wednesday at Gordon’s DTX, and boy am I glad I did! This lineup was impressive…it demonstrated that bourbons can have individual characters above the corn sweetness, and Jimmy’s and Eddie’s nearly 100 years of combined experience really shine through. Now you’ll have to excuse me…I’m going to call my parents.

Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!

Tammy

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