Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Small Batch Review


russells reserve 10 year small batch bourbon review

Do you love Bourbon? I do, and this is being National Bourbon Heritage Month (and American Whiskey month on TWJ) I felt it only fitting to feature one of my favorites. The Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Small Batch, which comes to us from the fine folks at Wild Turkey, is great and if someone were to come over to my house and ask the question “what’s bourbon taste like?” this is what I would give them. It has that amazing toffee + vanilla +spice that symbolizes the classic bourbon flavor profile and would help them “get it” right away.

On the whole it may be a complex bourbon, but that doesn’t mean you need a trained palate to enjoy it. Most of the flavors live on the surface and can easily be sussed out. Adding ice or chilling it does concentrate the sweetness a bit and the earthy hints tend to go a bit underground as it were, but it’s not a severe change.

Russell’s Reserve 10 year Small Batch Review

ABV: 45%
Price: $36
Distiller: Wild Turkey

Deep caramel with ruby hints.

Sweet… very sweet. Initially you get smacked in the olfactory with slightly medicinal vanilla and toffee, but if you give it a second to breathe other wonderful scents start to emerge. Hints of red licorice, maraschino cherries, and almonds or marzipan start to unfold and build up a potpourri of bourbony goodness. I would honestly love to have an huge overstuffed leather recliner that smelled like this.

A menage a trois of toffee, vanilla, and spice. Upfront this is what a bourbon should taste like, and like I’ve already said it’s as classic of a bourbon flavor profile as you can get, but there’s more to it than that. If you let it rest on your tongue for a second or two and then slowly move it around a bit some silky hints of corn and earthy rye start to appear alongside whispers of something I can only describe as a pumpkin / apple pie hybrid.

Spice sticks around for a while, but as it fades there is a Creme de Noyaux type flavor, though much less sugary, that hangs around for a minute or so, but fades without leaving any sourness or bitterness behind that you can sometimes get with low quality bourbons.

Medium body and smooth textured it doesn’t numb or burn too much. It’s a pleasant experience and going down it warms without burning. A good balance to the sweet and savory.

It’s a robust bourbon that’s as comforting as a big warm hug… unless you don’t like hugs. In which case it’s as comforting as something else that you do (like a great bourbon perhaps). It’s also a sign that the folks at Wild Turkey aren’t asleep at the wheel and they’re trying new things, which I always like seeing from the distilleries I enjoy.

SCORE: 90/100

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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35 Responses to Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Small Batch Review

  1. Just picked some up based on your review and it’s wonderful. I can definitely nose and taste the difference between this and the 101. This one has a little more sweetness to it (that treacle toffee-vanilla sweetness), but still has that WT spiciness on the palate. Too bad it’s not 101 proof (would be a better comparison), but they must have their reasons for selling it at 90. Perhaps the extra time in the barrel brought on enough additional spice that they deemed it unpleasant.

  2. How different would you say the Russell’s Reserve Small Batch is from the Single Barrel? I’ve got a bottle of single barrel based on your review, which by the way blew my mind how good it was and how little recognition it gets (I likely wouldn’t have tried it had I never read your review). In your opinion is the small batch different enough from the single barrel that it’s worth checking out too, or is it fairly similar to the single barrel?

    • It’s different, and not as good as most of the Single Barrels I’ve had. Thought I have had some single barrels it was better then (which is always the gamble with single barrels). It’s worth trying at some point to see the flavor they’re going for when they blend a bunch of older casks together…. but I wouldn’t rush for it anytime soon if you’re enjoying the SiB you picked up 🙂

  3. This stuff is a nice tasting bourbon! I had a top on the Glencairn Glass for about 17 minutes and at 1st the smell comes out over powering, but calms down quickly! Once the smell calms down, it has a pleasant smell! It has a nice smooth taste and it’s definitely worth the 33 bucks that I paid, actually better than alot of the more expensive bourbon, I’ve tried. Thanks for the review, Jason…

  4. Have you tried the small batch single barrel? At 110 proof it really brings the flavor! My first bottle of Russells Reserve anything….won’t be my last! Tasty for sure.

  5. Good review. I picked up a bottle and the first round was terrible. It was all ethanol stink and pepper. Even water couldn’t find the sweet spot. It had breathed 30 minutes. It was drunk from a jelly glass.

    The next session, I switched to an 8oz brandy snifter, and it was a different whiskey entirely. No water necessary, all sweet and lightly peppered. Vanilla on the nose and a pleasant dram. The nose even improves somewhat with an 11oz brandy snifter, a bit better than a Glencairn glass. But, either are very good.

    The Reserve 10yr. is a nice whiskey but head to head I prefer the tantalizing Old Grand Dad 114 NAS. And, Four Roses Small Batch is good from a jelly glass.

    It is a fact that I appreciate certain whiskey on a certain day, and not on other days. But, certainly the Reserve is a fine Bourbon. No doubt about that.

  6. A great bourbon for sure and at the same price point I like it better than rare breed. I haven’t had the single barrel. 4 roses single barrel is $13 cheaper than RRSB so I don’t know if it’s worth the money.

  7. Based on your review and my love of WT101 I had to give this a try. Wow, am I glad I did! This is my new favorite whiskey. Flat out delicious.

  8. My local store has a special for the 4th of July: $19.99, just picked a bottle of it, can’t enjoy to try it. Love the nose

  9. I really liked this. Big vanilla custard,nutmeg and baking spices on the nose let you know right off that this came from WT distilleries. Neat you get vanilla custard up front followed by that trademark Wild Turkey “funk” (peppery, dusty and dry) that I’ve become a fan of. It did have a little astringent note that I didn’t care for, but a splash helped tame that somewhat and brought a little cinnamon to the finish. I was expecting a little more depth from a premium release by the Russells, though. I don’t see buying another bottle of this. For $5-$10 more I’ll get the Rare Breed and for $10-$15 less I’ll get the WT101. But I don’t regret trying this one at all. Another cork for the collection…

  10. Got this for $31 out the door. It’s super smooth but less sweet than the 101. Or a different kind of weet. Less carmel more dark sweetness. That alcohol and spice kick in the 101 are missing along with the lingering char finish.

  11. Just wanted to say thanks. This bourbon along with the single barrel version I first learned about from reading your reviews. They have since become my favorite bourbons.

    • I have yet to try the rare breed. From what I can gather it’s blended like the small batch version but higher proof like the single barrel. So overall more consistent bottle to bottle and higher proof (which I like). The main reason I haven’t tried it yet is because I can often get these two on sale and it never is. Any thoughts on if I really need to try it?

      • I really like the Rare Breed. I don’t buy it as often as some of the lower price WTs, but I do love it and in my humble opinion it’s worth splurging on now and then.

  12. its good, but I think I prefer the 101 when drinking WT still. < 100 proof just doesn't cut it anymore.

  13. Just picked up a bottle of this last week, and am really enjoying it. Found it at my local Meijer on sale fornot$29.99. When I hold it on my tongue and swish it around, I really get a salted caramel flavor. I find the flavors really open up with some water or two cubes of melted ice. It’s quite enjoyable! Will definitely be purchasing more.

  14. I like this bourbon. I have never tried eagle rare or Henry McKenna. Josh would you prefer this over anything in the $30 price range? And if you had to pick would you prefer Russell’s reserve single barrel or four roses single barrel?

    • In the $30ish price range it’s definitely at the top of my list. On the Russels vs Four Roses SiB question it’s tough to say. Some barrels fo 4R I’ve had are better than some RR barrels and vice-versa. On the whole I gravitate towards RR, but being SiBs they can vary.

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