Russell’s Reserve (10 year) Bourbon

Wild Turkey, long-time champion of the bottom bourbon shelf, has been steadily expanding their range with ryes, reserves, small batches and single barrels, plus whatever “Forgiven” is (Update: now I know!). The line of Russell’s Reserve bourbons and ryes are crafted by (and named after) legendary master distiller Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie Russell. Aged a full 10 years (hear, hear for age statements!) and bottled in small batches (a meaningless term, these days, basically an excuse for batch variability), Russell’s Reserve is reportedly made from a mashbill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. The barrels used in each batch are chosen by Jimmy and Eddie, and are from the center of the Wild Turkey rickhouses.

Nose: Nutty. Furniture polish, marzipan, butter toffee. Mostly, though, it’s furniture polish. A rest in the glass sweetens up the aroma a bit, with some buttercream frosting and better balance.

Palate: Thin bodied. Moderate tongue burn. The first impression is of honey-roasted peanuts, or candied almonds. Then, the woodsy notes arrive with more furniture polish and oak sawdust.

Finish: Medium-long. Nutty, and mostly without bitterness. A reprise of the butter toffee and finishes nicely with a very pleasant frosted cinnamon-bun flavor.

With Water: Several drops of water wake up the nose a bit, but fail to change the component aromas or overall balance. The palate seems a little thicker, but more muddled. The finish is tarter, and there’s more rye-delivered cinnamon and clove notes, which also come across when this is used to make cocktails. Water (or ice) totally optional when sipping.

Overall: I can’t find much to recommend this over any other bourbon in a +/- $20 range. It’s better than your bottom-shelfers, but it suffers from a lack of robustness and an unfortunate leaning towards the “furniture polish” side of oakiness, rather than the “buttery sweet” side. The rest of my bottle made a series of totally acceptable Old Fashioneds, but then that’s pretty much true of any bourbon over $20 a bottle (and a few under that). If you’re a huge fan of Wild Turkey’s focus on cereal notes, you might consider this a worthwhile upgrade.

Russell’s Reserve (10 year) Bourbon
45% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $34 - $40
Acquired: (bottle) Beverages & More, San Jose, CA, $36

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    • This is better than Wild Turkey 101, but also something like twice the price. For that kind of money (depending on where you live), I prefer Eagle Rare 10 or one of the Four Roses.

      • Thanks! I’ve tried both Eagle Rare and Four Roses Single Barrel, and was give the WT equivalent a go, but doesn’t sound like its worth the $38.

  • Found it on a special sale at my local store for $19. I have to say I quite liked it. At $38, I would certainly go for a EH Taylor or for my beloved Eagle Rare. Very woodsy but I don’t find the “chemical” flavor of the wood polish as described. Not a bourbon connoisseur but I quite like this one, maybe not at $38…

  • Was this the 110 proof? Those have been excellent bottles and are worthy contenders in the 50.00 range especially considering current market realities. WT101 is also an excellent neat pour and great value. The most recent vintages of 101 seem to be well on the path to returning 101 to its prior glory. Jimmy isn’t legendary for pumping out a bottom shelf champion WT 101 is one of the first that was considered “premium” and samples I have had of classic 101 have been phenomenal.

  • The Single Barrel is excellent and well worth the money. I keep open bottles of WT101, WT Rare Breed, Elijag Craig Barrel Proof, and RRSB. With these four I don’t need (nor want) any other bourbons.

  • I think this is my favorite Bourbon under $40. I would argue that there is none of the furniture polish nose as described in the review and this is more medium than thin bodied. Nose is vanilla, cherry, and leather. Taste profile is toffee, vanilla, caramel, and cloves, with medium burn. At 25 a bottle at my local bottleshop, I can’t imagine a better deal.

  • Wow. You missed the mark on this one. I’m at a loss.. To each they’re own I guess? Having tasted nearly every commercially available brown booze I find Russell’s to be a perfect daily drinker and unique in it’s complexity for the price range. Simply put.. Good stuff. I don’t know what you’re “polishing your furniture” with but it must taste delicious.

  • In my opinion, this review misses the mark, but I guess we all have different noses and palates. Strongly disagree with furniture polish assessment. Do not be turned away by such as description from at least trying this bourbon.