Russell's Reserve Private Barrel "Eddie's Pick" Bourbon
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This year we had the chance to order two "twin" barrels of Russell's Reserve from Wild Turkey, with the idea that we could enjoy and compare them side by side. The first, our Bitters & Bottles selection, was the most recent pick for our Whiskey Club. The second barrel was delayed a bit, but if you're fortunate enough to have a bottle from that first barrel - they make a fascinating, and toothsome, comparison. For this particular selection, we had master distiller Eddie Russell pick out a barrel from the same part of the same warehouse, but one that showcased a slightly different side to their Bourbon. This whiskey was distilled in 2011 and aged in Warehouse A in “alligator” char new American oak. The barrel was kept on floor 4 (of 7). In the higher floors of the rickhouse water evaporates more quickly, generally creating a higher proof bourbon with more spice and kick. The bottom floors and their lower temperature lose more alcohol for a lower proof whiskey, with more delicate floral and fruit notes. Floor 4 in the middle of the rickhouse is the break-even point, where the juiciest honey barrels are pulled from. Our private barrel has been bottled at 110 proof and non-chill filtered to preserve maximum flavor.
Though it comes from the same process, and nearly the exact location in the warehouse as our previous selection, this barrel showcases a slightly more refined, though still wild at heart, side of the turkey. Some of these elements would perhaps be more typical of a bourbon from the lower racks, though the big upper rack spice comes out to play as well. The nose is full of green: green apple peel and green pepper greet you alongside big oak character and confectionary shop sweets. Wild Turkey is always big and brawny on the palate, this being no exception, but this also leaves room for some juicy fruits like peaches and tangy berries to shine alongside the river of spice, caramel, and vanilla. A creamy milk chocolate touch is also present, delightfully reminiscent of a Twix bar. The wood expresses itself as a lovely tingling baking spice rather than a wall of wood tannin, which means more of that fruit and sweetness can shine through rather than getting clobbered with oak. Red hots, caramel corn, and a hint of sesame seed wrap up the finish on an intriguing note. Familiar, but with an added depth.