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.

Links & Other Reviews

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric due in June

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric due in June

The third release from Diageo’s Orphan Barrel initiative is slated for june.

Whiskycast reports:

Diageo’s Orphan Barrel line of rare whiskies will expand to a third release in June with Rhetoric. As reported by WhiskyCast in February, Rhetoric is a 20-year-old Bourbon distilled at both the Old and New Bernheim distilleries in Louisville and matured in the warehouses at nearby Stitzel-Weller Distillery.

A little different from the Old Blowhard and Barterhouse releases, Rhetoric is planned as a progressive annual release. This means we can expect to see a new release each year with an older age statement. So, next year we can expect to see a 21 year version of this Bourbon.

It will have a suggested retail price of $85 and bottled at 45%.

Colonel EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel – Review #30

Background

Colonel EH Taylor Single Barrel BottleColonel EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel comes from the Buffalo Trace Distillery and is named after Bourbon legend Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. Taylor operated his O.F C. Distillery in 1869 during the time of some questionable practices. Customers were getting swindled with inferior and doctored Bourbon. He lobbied successfully for the Bottled in Bond designation to ensure quality. His great uncle was Zachary Taylor and he was also related to James Madison, so he apparently had a political pedigree.

Bottled in Bond means the whiskey is distilled from one plant during one season and aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years. The whiskey also has to be bottled at 100-proof. In honor of this effort, the most of the Colonel EH Taylor Jr line is Bottled in Bond.

The O.F.C. Distillery was purchased by George T Stagg in 1878 and Buffalo Trace has commemorated this line of Bourbons to Taylor. The collection includes a Small Batch, Single Barrel reviewed here, Barrel Proof, Straight Rye, Old Fashioned Sour Mash, and Warehouse C Tornado Surviving. The later was a special release of barrels exposed to the weather after a 2006 tornado damaged Buffalo Trace’s Warehouse C.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 50%. Buffalo Trace’s #1 Mash of about less than 10% rye. MSRP – $59.99 (2016 Price)

Aroma

Fruity. Apples, plums. Caramel. Cinnamon and maybe a little nutmeg. A little honey. Light oak char. Some corn.

Flavor

Caramel and sweet. Buttery. Hot cinnamon and some alcohol burn. I like this with a little water. Water dials down the heat a bit and brings out more toffee and sweetness. A little jammy. Oak builds in the finish with a nice richness that’s a little woody, spicy, and nutty.

Overall

I’ve been enjoying this bottle of EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel. I think I prefer this at around 90-95-proof. Once I get settled in I find myself enjoying this as the glass goes down and wanting more when it’s gone. This is a nice pour.

The big question for me is how this stacks up to the EH Taylor Jr. Small Batch? For me that’s $20 less and generally easier to find. At the same adjusted proof I found them to pretty similar. Maybe a little more body in the EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel with a little more of that hot cinnamon, but side by side I didn’t see $20 difference. I’d probably recommend checking the Small Batch out first and if you enjoy it grab this EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel and compare.

EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel Recommendation

Buy a Bottle – 3.5/5.0 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 already covered the EH Taylor Jr. Small Batch and that would be my top alternate to EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel to research or buy. This is a low-rye Bourbon and it doesn’t’ have too many peers, so we’ll look further in the rye category for similar bottles at this price range. Blanton’s would be a good choice as would John J Bowman. If you’re looking to enjoy something similar to EH Taylor Jr Single Barrel for about half the money, Eagle Rare 10 would be something to consider. I’d, however, also put that a bit below the Small Batch.

Links & Other Reviews

 

Bowman Brothers Small Batch – Review #29

Bowman Brothers Small Batch Background

Bowman Brothers Small Batch BottleBowman Brothers Small Batch from A. Smith Bowman Distillery is an interesting operation. They don’t make their own mash. They actually re-distill product from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Buffalo Trace parent Sazerac owns the distillery, so the link is logical. The process used at A Smith Bowman means the product is triple distilled before it’s put into casks for aging in Fredericksburg Virginia. It seems like Bowman Brothers use Buffalo Trace #2 Mash, so this sort of extends my series of Bourbons using that mash recipe.

The distillery and Bourbon are named after the Bowman family. John J Bowman settled in Kentucky in 1770’s. His great, great nephew Abraham Smith Bowman operated a farm in northern Virginia in the 1920’s. He took his excess grain and built a distillery in 1933. The A. Smith Bowman Distillery is named after this distillery, although at a different place. A. Smith Bowman Distillery opened in 1988 and began its current distilling in the 1991.

A. Smith Bowman Distillery makes three different Bourbons. There’s the Bowman Brothers Small Batch, John J Bowman Single Barrel, and an annual special release Abraham Bowman.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 90-proof. Buffalo Trace Mash #2 of about 13-15% Rye. Paid $30 @ Michigan State Minimum Price.

Aroma

Fruity, Apples. Caramel. Corn Cinnamon. Light oak.

Flavor

Fruity apples, cinnamon and caramel. Sweet and soft. Some maple syrup. A little rye flavor with some of that minty-pine. Some light oak with mild astringency towards the end. A slight spice in the finish warms the mouth. Nicely put together.

Overall

This seems delicate. Soft and sweet. Not a lot of power in this one, nor does it finish strong. I’d like to see this at a higher proof because there’s not much harshness in this pour and it could really amp things up with no ill effects. This is pretty nice drinking.

I was curious how this compared to Elmer T Lee. Same mash and same proof, while this bottle has that extra distillation and is aged in a different location. I tasted them side by side and feel they’re pretty darn close. I’d be curious to hear what others think on that. Elmer T Lee I get more rye in the nose and a little more toffee. Bowman Brothers Small Batch seems lighter, sweeter, and less acetone. I’d give Elmer T Lee the edge, but for a few bucks less Bowman Brothers Small Batch seems a good buy. Especially good buy if Elmer T Lee is in short supply.

Bowman Brothers Small Batch Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.5/5.0 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 classify Bowman Brothers Small Batch a standard bourbon with a moderate rye content. This is a big category with a number of great options around this price. Elmer T Lee, Russell’s Reserve 10 Small Batch, Evan Williams Single Barrel all are I think comparable. If you can’t find Bowman Brothers Small Batch or would like to compare it to something else, that should be a good start.

Links & Other Reviews

Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition – Review #28

Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition Background

Elmer T Lee Commemorative EditionElmer T Lee passed away last year at the age of 93 and Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition is a special release honoring him. His namesake Bourbon was launched in 1986 under the condition that Elmer could pick out the barrels. He reportedly did so into his 90’s.

Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition is basically the same as the standard bottle, but bumped up an extra 1.5% alcohol to make it 93-proof in honor of Lee. Buffalo Trace did a similar special release to commemorate Lee’s 90th birthday, although that didn’t result in a proof change.

This release is a one time deal and Buffalo Trace describes it as very limited.

Details

No age statement. Buffalo Trace Mash #2 which is thought to be about 13-15% rye. It’s bottled at 46.5%. Paid $50, $35 MSRP.

Aroma

Caramel with a touch of toffee. Fruity. A little corn. Vanilla. Some charred oak. Light spearmint. Baking spices with cinnamon and nutmeg.  

Flavor

Caramel sweetness. Vanilla. Mild char with a little astringency drying out the sweetness. A little rye in there – getting some evergreen.

Overall

Side-by-side Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition is pretty similar to Elmer T Lee. Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition seems more interesting in the nose. Regular Elmer T Lee seems more about the caramel and has a bit of nail polish remover. I’m not getting those nice baking spices and rye note.

In flavor, Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition seems a bit more refined. Elmer T Lee to me shows a bit more fusel alcohols and is a touch bitter and acrid in aftertaste where Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition finishes cleaner. Don’t misinterpret this as much of a criticism, I’m just spitting hairs searching for differences.

The best reason to buy Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition I think is if you’re a fan and want simply own it. I don’t think it’s special enough to hunt down and empty store shelves. The differences between these two bottles are pretty subtle. It’s also important to note that we’re looking at single barrel products here and each batch is different. This bottle of Elmer T Lee is slightly different from the bottle I reviewed previously, for example.

This is a collectible and I think if you’re an Elmer T Lee fan it’s worth picking up. I prefer this bottle of Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition slightly over the regular. Does that mean better barrel selection? Bumped up bottle proof? Or simply single barrel variations? Yes, no, donno.

If pricing is similar to a regular bottle, go ahead and pick it up. I think if it’s marked up with a premium, like my bottle, just know you’re basically paying for a special label of Elmer T Lee.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.5/5.0

(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.)

Links