This is not the first time that I am trying the Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon, but it is the first time that I am sitting down to write a full review. I first had this at WhiskyLive NYC this past April (poured by none other than Jimmy Russell himself!), and then I had it again with the Booze Dancing crew and Miracle Max during our Whiskycast Virtual Tasting this past July where we unanimously voted this the best Bourbon of the night.
Before we get on with our review, here are a few words about the Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel from the good people at Wild Turkey:
Handpicked by Jimmy and Eddie Russell, the best barrels are sourced from the “center cut”, or level 4 of the rick house. Each barrel is individually bottled at a higher proof and non-chill filtered to guarantee maximum flavor and deeper color. Each barrel has its own unique personality yet captures the rich, complex style of Russell’s Reserve.
And here are my impressions of this Bourbon…
Appearance: If I go by the Stranahan’s “Whiskey Color” chart, then I’d have to say that this Bourbon has an Auburn Mahogany color.
Aroma: Once you get past that huge hit of alcohol when you first stick your nose in the glass (not quite strong enough to singe your nose hairs, but pretty darn close), all of those classic bourbon notes come through, i.e. dark brown sugar, vanilla, caramelized bananas, allspice, Big Red gum-like cinnamon, and a just a bit of menthol.
Taste: Very spicy at the onset with a huge hit of cinnamon that concentrates on the tip of your tongue. Once the heat subsides, the dark brown sugar and vanilla notes emerge at mid-palate. It all comes together at the finish with those baking spices and herbal notes showing up as well. Long, warming finish with a lingering cinnamon and sweet mint aftertaste.
I’ll occasionally use the term “gateway” or “training wheels” to describe a whisky, i.e. one that you would serve to someone that hasn’t had much experience with whisky. The Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is not that kind of whisky. This is big, bold, and beautifully crafted stuff with a well rounded flavor profile and an intensity that reminds you to take it slowly so that you fully appreciate what’s going on in your glass. I suppose you can add a bit of water to mellow things out, but I think this Bourbon is at its best when sipped at full strength.