Russell's Reserve [Small Batch] Single Barrel Bourbon

I became a Wild Turkey junkie after my first $9 pint of Wild Turkey 101. I really enjoy the bourbon/rye blend Forgivenand I liked the limited edition Diamond Anniversary, but I was underwhelmed by my bottle of single barrel Kentucky Spirit, and things got rocky after spending $170 on the Masters Keep.

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon, however, falls into the category of the Wild Turkey I love. It is relatively pricy but not outrageous for the experience, and you can find it most anywhere. This bourbon is what the Russells are all about- it's a beast.

It derives from a 75% corn, 13%, 12% malt mash bill. It enters the barrel at the unusually low 110 proof, not the modern-era standard of 125 proof. It is aged for 8-9 years in deeply charred (#4) barrels and matured in warehouses fully exposed to the Kentucky elements (i.e. no AC, no heat). Unlike most bourbons, it is not chill filtered. It is bottled at 110 proof.

A quick note on the packaging. Until recently, Campari America (which owns the Wild Turkey portfolio) marketed this as a "small batch" and a "single barrel" bourbon. Those terms are generally understood to mean different things. Pops Garrett from Bourbon and Banter reached out to Wild Turkey, and he was told that "a single barrel is inherently the smallest of batches" or something to that effect. OK. I agree with him that it's redundant and kind of confusing. This year, however, Campari released new packaging for the entire Russell's Reserve line, and the new label simply declares it to be a single barrel bourbon. I think it's a pretty classy look.

Russell's Reserve Bourbon

Wild Turkey
110 proof
$50 at ABC in Salisbury, NC

Color: Dark maple.

Nose: Unbelievable. Brown sugar, caramel, vanilla frosting, corn, orange peel, charred oak.

Tasting Notes: Pop! Bang! Pepper! Barrel char! Great burnt sugars, caramel and vanilla, some corn sweetness, cinnamon spice. Ridiculously long finish.

Overall: A. I honestly didn't know much about this bourbon when we got it. I hadn't read any reviews or formed any expectations. I am really blown away by how good it is. While the flavor profiles are different, I put this up there with Maker's Mark Cask Strength and some of the Four Roses Single Barrel selections we've had, which tend to be comparable in terms of proofing and price.