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Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon

Review: Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon  84.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra
Published April 04, 2018

Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon is distilled and bottled at the Wild Turkey Distillery near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The company is a division of the Campari Group. Wild Turkey produces their bourbon from a mash bill which includes three grains: corn, barley, and rye. This mash bill is said to have a relatively high proportion of rye which gives the whiskey brand its signature spicy kick. Russell’s Reserve is an age stated bourbon brand produced by Wild Turkey. Like all Wild Turkey Bourbons the whiskey is aged in what the company refers to as their ‘famous #4 alligator char‘ American Oak barrels.

The Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume or 90 proof.

In the Bottle 4/5

A picture of my Russell’s Reserve Bourbon is shown to the left. It is a cork sealed stubby bottle which doesn’t really impress me at all. It’s the little things like the tacky clear plastic cover on the cork which fail to elevate the presentation. The colour scheme on the label is weak as well (burgundy on white). Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong here, but nothing is right about the top label either. I think the worst part is the word RUSSELL’S in large letters on the front. It just seems like very little thought was put into the logo.

I do like the clear age statement on the bottom label. Ten years is quite a long time for bourbon, and so that at least helps to elevate the product.

In The Glass 8.5/10

The Bourbon shows me an attractive amber/copper colour in the glass, and when that glass is tilted and twirled, I see a thickish sheen on the inside. Medium fat droplets develop, and they amble slowly back to the whiskey below.

The initial nose brings a little alcohol astringency forward. The spirit is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume so a touch of alcohol heat right at the beginning is acceptable. As the whiskey begins to acquaint itself with the breezes above the glass I notice firm orange peel and citrus notes lead out in front of butterscotch, bits of maple and oak sap and spice. Baking spices develop with vanilla, bits of ginger and a light hit of cinnamon all easy to recognize. Almond-like marzipan-like notes follow with some nice rye notes alongside. There is a bit of winding grassy tobacco and menthol appearing as well.

My overall impression is that the whiskey is off the beaten path a ways. It seems to have more rye character than bourbon, and that winding grassy tobacco seems to be gaining steam taking the spirit in its own direction.

In the Mouth 51/60

The delivery brings a peppery bite of oak spice and alcohol along with it. As stated earlier, this is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume, so a bit of alcohol punch is not out of place. I taste bits of wood sap and oak spice. The initial sharpness is tempered by a light butterscotch as well as a firm flavour of vanilla and almond. Fruit flavours are present in the form of orange peel and canned apricots. There are underlying tobacco flavours, and a nice accent of baking spice (cinnamon and ginger). That winding grassiness I noticed in the breezes seems to have settled into a light tobacco flavour with some hints of cooling menthol.

I added a bit of ice, but this seems to bring more bitterness forward than I prefer. The grassy tobacco seems to gain more expression as well. I think a nice flavour of mint would really work well with the whiskey. I am thinking Mint Julep of course. I’ll have to try that this summer when my mint plants are growing again.

In the Throat 13/15

The bourbon has a mid-length finish with a nice hit of rye and ginger followed by vanilla, oak spice and a touch of cinnamon. The whisky does swat at the tonsils on the way by, however this light astringency is soothed to a large extent by a light caramel sweetness and some ebbing menthol.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon is a nice whisky. It perhaps deserves a better bottle, but then again one of the hallmarks of this spirit is that it is quite attractively priced compared to other 10-year-old bourbons. A new bottle might make it look nicer on the shelf; but it also might push up its price tag. I wasn’t able to try the spirit in a Mint Julep, perhaps this summer I will remedy that and it everything works out as I suspect, I will add the cocktail recommendation at that time.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipe:

Here is a nice recipe courtesy Campari USA:

Image Courtesy of Campari USA

Red Stripes

1 3/4 oz. Russell’s Reserve
3/4 oz. Cointreau 
1/2 oz. Carpano Antica
1/2 oz. Cranberry Juice
1 Dash of Orange Bitters
Ice
Orange Peel twist

Add all ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain over fresh ice
Garnish with an orange twist.
Enjoy Responsibly

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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I am sometimes asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, you may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whiskey.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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