Russell's Reserve Single Barrel
If you ask me which distillery I really enjoy and am constantly satisfied with their offerings, it would be a toss up between Buffalo Trace Distillery and Wild Turkey Distillery. Wild Turkey has a bunch of heavy hitters and have been producing great bourbons for a long time. Semi-retired Master Distiller, Jimmy Russell, has been in the craft for over 65 years, how can you go wrong with someone who has that much experience. The Master Distiller role now falls on the shoulders of his son, Eddie. Combined, these guys have been delivering heavy hitters long before most of us have been alive.
Over the years the Russell's have been given more freedom, and with that freedom comes new sub-brands. The Russell's Reserve 10yr and Russell's Reserve Single Barrel are two of those expressions, and we're better off because of these two pioneers of the craft.
Age: Roughly 8-10 years. Varies from barrel-to-barrel.
Distillery: Wild Turkey DIstillery
Mashbill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malt.
This is where Wild Turkey is able to distance themselves, in my opinion, from a majority of their competition. The aroma on this single barrel expression is breath taking.
Right up front your nose is instantly hit with great notes of caramel and brown sugar. Almost like you just walked into a bakery. With more time examining, notes of vanilla, and orange peel come forward. Only the occasional note of alcohol, oak, and cinnamon.
With the high expectations from the nose/aroma, I had high hopes going into this aspect. Caramel hits the tongue on the front end mixed with some cinnamon spice and heat. The initial heat is enjoyable, but I'm a huge fan of 100+ proof bourbons. The initial heat may be a bit much for some people. It's not too intense, but a drink that may benefit from a couple drops of water or a small ice cube.
After the initial taste, a load of sweetness hits the tongue, more than likely from the high corn mashbill. Burnt sugars and charred oak line your tongue to end the experience.
It's an overall pleasant experience, but it's nothing different. It's not something unique from Wild Turkey, little more flavor, but that's more to do with the higher proof. I was hoping for a few more unique profiles to be present. Score: 29/33
This is another category where the single barrel is able to deliver. I'm a huge fan of a long finish. I want something that's going to give me an experience after the bourbon has left my mouth. This bourbon does exactly that, the finish is complex and lasts for what seems like ever.
I found that the heat and spice generally had little negative impact on the flavor, but a couple tastes unfortunately had too much spice on the finish and it turned into a heat fest. I'd say 1 out of every 8 sips. Definitely nothing that would shy me away from this bourbon, but worth noting.
I've polished off 3 bottles of their 10yr expression of Russell's Reserve, but the Single Barrel took the delicious aspects of the 10yr and took it up a notch. While I understand that single barrels can vary from barrel-to-barrel, overall, I've found that Jimmy and Eddie do a great job of keeping things similar in nature, even for their single barrel selections.
The best part about the single barrel is that Wild Turkey does private bottlings, so if you enjoyed the regular single barrel, find a shop that has a store pick offering of the single barrel - they are a completely different experience. Woah! Yummy!
FINAL SCORE: 92/100