If you have the opportunity to try single barrel bourbons with as much frequency as I do, you’ll know it’s a wonderful opportunity to truly experience the differences that a barrel helps to contribute to a bourbon.
Tasting them side by side is illuminating and really helps to build one’s palate (as well as gives you an excuse to try multiple bourbons at one time).
That being said, this review is of a single Single Barrel expression—in this case Russell’s Reserve, from Jimmy and Eddie Russell of Wild Turkey fame—so the review will reflect that. If you were to pick up another bottle of RR Single Barrel, chances are the profile will be slightly different, unless you were able to track down a bottle from the exact same barrel as we have.
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel expression, on the whole, is a straight bourbon whiskey (meaning it is aged at least two years) aged in No. 4 Alligator Char barrels. Each barrel used is hand-picked by the master distillers. If you’re familiar with Wild Turkey’s other expressions, such as Rare Breed, you’ll find some things that are familiar, yet a profile that is very much independent of that as well.
Nose: Grain and vanilla are the two most dominant notes, followed by caramel, some woodiness, and a little bit of baking spice, including cinnamon. Depending on how deeply you decide to inhale, you’re likely to get a little bit of the alcohol there, as well.
Palate: Even though Single Barrel is 110-proof, you don’t get too much of the alcohol punch on the tongue (it is more evident up front on the nose). Caramel like the hard candies you’re likely to find in every grandparent’s house ever mixes with toffee, orange, and some spice characters. The bourbon itself is smooth and creamy, settling across the palate like the best kind of blanket imaginable. The oak flavors start about midway through and take the palate into the finish.
Finish: A pleasant, long finish. The sweet corn, toffee and wood flavors follow through to the very end.
Final Thoughts: It’s hard to go wrong with anything that comes out of Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon is no different. Full of flavor, I like how this manages to evoke some of the other Wild Turkey releases while still being its own thing. In addition, the somewhat newly redesigned labels are an aesthetic improvement from the previous labels (including, but not limited to the erasing of the phrase “small batch,” which is redundant when you consider that the bourbon is produced from a single barrel, inherently the smallest batch size possible). A great bourbon for its price point and definitely one to try more than once.
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon retails for $58.