Russell’s Reserve Small Batch Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon
110 proof; no age statement
This new expression from Wild Turkey’s Jimmy and Eddie Russell is bottled at a higher proof than Russell’s Reserve (110 vs. 90) and is “non-chill-filtered,” meaning the distillery isn’t chilling the whiskey to filter out fatty acids before bottling it. What does that do to the taste? Let’s find out.
Nose: This bourbon has a fantastically complex aroma. I don’t know if it’s those fatty acids or the heavy “alligator” charred barrels that Wild Turkey uses, but what I smell is a smokehouse, maybe one filled with sugar-cured bacon. It’s a sweet and savory smell that made my mouth water.
Taste: The first thing I tasted was molasses, right on the tip of my tongue. Very sweet. “This is surprisingly mild for a 110-proof bourbon,” I thought. And then the liquid made its way to the back of my tongue. BOOM: The spice and char came roaring in. There’s a real bite in the back of this one. It finishes out dry, with notes of cinnamon and a nice smoky aftertaste.
Verdict: I once ordered a Bacon Manhattan made with bacon-infused bourbon. It was so very bacon-y (and salty) that it lasted through my entire dinner: I couldn’t stand to take more than a tiny sip of it at a time. This Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is what that drink was going for, a sweet but savory sip with a nice satisfying burn at the end. And they didn’t have to add anything; they just didn’t take anything out. This bourbon would be particularly fine as a winter warmer, but don’t wait until then to buy it.
(Note: ”Small Batch Single Barrel” doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Press materials call this simply “Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel,” and I hope the label eventually changes to reflect that.)