Tag Archives: Wild Turkey

Russell’s Reserve 10 Small Batch – Review #31

Background

Russell's Reserve 10 BottleRussell’s Reserve 10 is named after Wild Turkey’s Jimmy Russell. It was launched commemorating his 45th anniversary in 1999. It’s selected by Jimmy and his son Eddie who have nearly 90 combined years of experience. Jimmy protested releasing Russell’s Reserve 10 with his name. Jimmy was even tasting the barrels not knowing what it was for and eventually he was talked into it. Russell’s Reserve 10 is aged in heavy #4 char (AKA alligator) giving a more assertive barrel character. As with the rest of the Wild Turkey offerings, Russell’s Reserve 10 has a lower barrel entry proof, which brings out more flavors with less distilling.

Jimmy Russell began working at the distillery in 1954. Eddie’s first job at the distillery was mowing the grass around 1981. Jimmy Russell still holds the title as Master Distiller and Eddie Russell is Associate Distiller. They both joke about who will retire first.

Random trivia: Jimmy Russell likes his bourbon neat in the winter and in the freezer during the summer.

Details

10 Year Age Statement. Bottled at 90-Proof. Wild Turkey mash bill 75 corn,13 rye, 12 barley. Paid $34 – Michigan State Minimum Price.

Aroma

Sweet, Caramel. Vanilla. Light toffee. Some mint. Cinnamon. Oak and smoke. Whiff of sulfur.

Flavor

Richness with caramel and toffee. Sweet with some alcohol flavors. Cinnamon and some good charred oak. Rye is in here with some mint and spice. A little nutty. Some burnt bitterness lingers.

Overall

Russell’s Reserve 10 is fairly rich and satisfying pour. Nice complexity with spices, rye character, and charred oak. Seems balanced towards the sweet, but the finish brings it back more towards the middle. Some alcohol warmth also in the finish to help things out.

The burnt char flavor from some extra time in those alligator barrels is a little distracting for me. It’s a nice glass and I’ve been enjoying it, but that’s keeping me from loving it. Either way, it’s still a nice Bourbon.  I also think Russell’s Reserve 10 drinks above its price, which is another gold star. Personally Russell’s Reserve 10 seems to lack a little zip compared to Wild Turkey 101. Part of that might be the lower proof, but 101 is also just more lively at a younger age. Still, at this price it’s worth keeping around.

Russell’s Reserve 10 Recommendation

Buy a Bottle – 4.0/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

Russell’s Reserve 10 is a standard rye, which actually seems to drink a little stronger than the recipe indicates. Price is right in there with a wide range of Bourbons in this class. If you can’t find this bottle or want to research some options, you’ll have a lot of bottles. Check out Elmer T Lee, Knob Creek, Woodford Reserve, Bowman Brothers, or Evan Williams Single Barrel.

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Wild Turkey 101 – Review

Wild Turkey 101 Background

Wild Turkey 101 BottleWild Turkey 101 has its roots in a New York grocery store. Austin Nichols sold alcohol and sourced their Bourbon from various suppliers to sell under their brand. As legend goes, Austin Nichols president Thomas McCarthy enjoyed turkey hunting with his friends and he would bring along some of his store’s Bourbon. His friends referred to it has their wild turkey Bourbon and that’s where we get the name.

One of Austin Nichols biggest suppliers came from what would later be called the Boulevard Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. In the 1960’s Austin Nichols began to buy nearly all their Wild Turkey from Boulevard and in 1972 it bought the distillery. Likely the acquisition was to stabilize supply of Bourbon as the industry fell on hard times. Today the Campari Group owns the Wild Turkey brand and distillery.

Wild Turkey 101 is known to have a low entry barrel proof, meaning the proof of the distillate going into the barrel is relatively low. This should results in more flavors, but either way, it’s something that makes Wild Turkey 101 unique compared to most other Bourbons today.

Details

Bottled from barrels 6-8 years old. Bottled at 50.5%. Mash recipe thought to be 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. $22 MSRP

Aroma

Cinnamon. Caramel. Vanilla, Toasted oak with a little char. Light perfume at full strength

Flavor

Sweet, caramel. Rye with a little mint. Vanilla. Cinnamon. Honey. Charred oak. Oak seems to build to the finish with some medium astringency. Burnt flavors. Some spice that coats the mouth after the finish. A little hot alcohol.

Overall

Lots of flavors here and some might be a little feisty. Wild Turkey 101 is made from a blending of barrels of various ages and likely different storage locations within Wild Turkey’s warehouses. Picking barrels that are 6, 7, and 8 years old offers an interesting profile.  It’s a lively Bourbon with nice barrel character.

I think Wild Turkey 101 has a bit of a bad rep. My impression before I first gave it a try was not favorable. Sort of rocket fuel booze. No idea where that came from, but unfortunately that was my brand awareness. I still hear some negative thoughts on this one as too rough. There’s no shame in adding a little water if that’s the case because at 101-proof, there’s plenty of room for a little water.

Wild Turkey 101 is flavorful and quite enjoyable, but lets talk about price. This is a bottle is a value and widely available. This particular bottle actually sat unopened for a while just because it’s a go-to order when out. You’ll find it behind most decent bars as it’s a popular mixer. This is also good for home because it’s a great value. In fact maybe we should keep this our little secret.

Wild Turkey 101 Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

I consider Wild Turkey 101 a standard Bourbon with a moderate rye content. This to me makes for an excellent entry-level for the category and the benchmark for measuring other similar Bourbons. If, however, you can’t find it or want to explore similar Bourbons at this price, I’d suggest checking out Old Forester Signature and Elijah Craig 12. You could also try Wild Turkey 81, but I think I’d spend the extra few bucks. Get the Wild Turkey 101 and cut in your own water for your tastes.

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