Russell’s Reserve is a fairly recent brand extension for Wild Turkey. The brand was created in the year 2000. The original Wild Turkey 101 had lost its 8 year age statement and people wanted that type of whiskey back. Wild Turkey responded by creating Russell’s Reserve, a Wild Turkey Bourbon bottled at 101 proof and aged 10 years. Consumers loved it. However, as the whiskey shortage grew, Wild Turkey lowered the proof to 90. They said it was because of consumer demand. People drinking in bars and restaurants did not want a Bourbon that was 101 proof. That is the official reason for dropping the proof. I personally believe it had more to do with the shortage of 10 year old Bourbon and the high demand for the brand. I am glad that they kept the age statement. Maybe one day they will bring back the 101 proof version as well.
The brand was a success. As rye whiskey grew in market share, it was only a matter of time before consumers started asking for a premium version of Wild Turkey rye. Thus was born Russell’s Reserve Rye. This is the standard bottling of a 6 year old rye bottled at 90 proof. They have single barrel versions bottled at a higher proof, as well as, this expression. All are great rye whiskeys at reasonable prices.
Russell’s Reserve Rye
Age: 6 years old
Nose: Rye grass, fruit – berries and cherries with vanilla and oak.
Taste: Rye grass, toasted marshmallows, berries and oak with a hint of baking spices. When tasted with a dried cranberry, some citrus notes of oranges and tangerines come out to join the party. When tasted with a pecan leather, tobacco and pepper spice come forward with the vanilla and berries moving to the background.
Finish: Surprisingly short. Some oak and spice, but otherwise a bit thin. The cranberry brought out sweet notes of vanilla and fruit, but the finish is still thin. The pecan made the finish longer with lots of oak and pepper spice.
I am pairing the Russell’s Reserve Rye with a Nat Sherman Timeless Limited Edition TAA 2019 cigar. I find the smoke to have notes of coffee and vanilla with some cedar spice and rich, sweet tobacco. The rye whiskey brought out some notes of milk chocolate and baking spices in the smoke. The cigar smoke made the rye a very buttery caramel with a hint of lemon zest. A good pairing for an evening cigar.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller