Russell’s Reserve 1998 Review

Russells Reserve 1998 Review

The Russell’s Reserve 1998 is an extremely limited run (2,070 bottles) of bourbon that was initially distilled and set aside to celebrate a future milestone for Jimmy Russell. However, barrels sometimes have other ideas about how they should mature. A few weeks ago I was out at Wild Turkey, which is where I was drinking this among other things, and Eddie gave us all the backstory on the RR 1998.

The story as Eddie tells it is that he was checking on these barrels, since they were for a special project, and he noticed that they were evaporating a whole lot faster than expected. He pulled samples and took them to his dad (Jimmy) to try and after some discussion they dumped the barrels into a steel holding tank towards the end of 2014 making this officially a 15 year old bourbon (due to distillation date) and is being bottled at 104 proof. All of which has culminated in the Russell’s Reserve 1998 being the most expensive Wild Turkey released to-date.

Russell’s Reserve 1998 Info

Region: Kentucky, USA

Distiller: Wild Turkey
Cask: New charred oak
Age: 15 years
ABV: 52%

Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Price: $250

Russell’s Reserve 1998 Review

EYE
Dark caramel

NOSE
Heavy woody dark sweets mix with thick notes of spice, cherry heavy dark fruit, a mild vanilla and an oily nuttiness. Hints of dust and peppery citrus peel come through lightly and add a nice facet to the complex nose.

PALATE
That cherry heavy dark fruit moves up accompanied by solid notes of wood, complex dark sweets and spice. Light notes of vanilla, citrus and sweet tobacco keep things interesting. Hints of candy corn, burnt sugar and an almost salty savoriness come and go as it moves across the palate.

FINISH
Long, rustic, warm and spicy with a nice bit of wood and dark sweets.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Great balance, thick body and heavy velvety texture. A joy to drink.

OVERALL
The Russell’s Reserve 1998 was my favorite of all the expressions of Wild Turkey we had on the tour and is among my favorite Wild Turkey expressions of all time. It’s simply magnificent with its rich and complex aroma and flavor. I had a hard time not just drinking this all evening and even contemplated ways to sneak the bottle back to LA with me. In the end I decided they would all result in me never being allowed back so I abandoned those ideas and just kept alternating between this and the Master’s Keep as the evening wore on. If it were in my price range there is no doubt I would grab a bottle when it comes out.

SCORE: 96/100

Russell’s Reserve 1998 Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 96
  • Palate - 96
  • Finish - 96
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 96

Value

Russell’s Reserve 1998 is solidly a “collectors only bottle”. Value doesn’t exist in this realm, but I will say this. If I were in a position to lob $250 at a bottle and not care, I’d snatch this one up in a heartbeat. But I’m not so I won’t be.

Russells Reserve 1998 Label

Edit: Since the distillery visit where I got to try this the first time I’ve been able to sit down with the bottled release and consume several glasses… it is without a doubt one of the best bourbons I’ve ever had and I’ve updated the score accordingly.

Josh Peters
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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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8 Responses to Russell’s Reserve 1998 Review

  1. As much as I love WT products (well, not the 81), I wonder what the hell they are thinking! $250 a bottle!!!! The Diamond Anniversary is gathering dust and they issue a bottle at twice the price!!! They need to concentrate their efforts in bringing back the quality they had in the Rare Breed and others. The 112 ABV RB is not near the quality of the older 108. WT listen up! I’m an old customer and you will lose me and others if you continue to let your main product lag!

    Oh, by the way, nice review, as always.

    • Thank you and yeah that $250 price is a killer. I had the 112 RB when I was at the distillery, but haven’t done it in a SBS with the old 108. Sounds like a good test.

      Cheers!

      • I compared the RB108, RRSB and ECBP #6 today. The 108 is the most spirity with a touch of acetone and a whisper of dill. Also had a “red hots” spiciness that tingled the tip of the tongue. The SB had a noticeable wooziness, but was more complex and subdued. Ginger spiciness arrives late and hits the middle of the tongue. BP has a great nose and a brown sugar influence that is also in the taste and finish. Also a lot more wood influence. All great whiskies.

  2. Hey Josh,
    I read your review on the K&L Private Single Barrel RRSiB and you graded it a 98. A grade of 93 on the 1998 RRSmB. Would your grade be higher on the 1998 if the price was not $250?
    Just curious because I have been through 3 standard “off the shelf” RRSiB and have enjoyed them all. May have the opportunity to purchase the 1998…lets just say a early Christmas gift to myself. It’s a steep price tag & I would typically try a pour at a bar before purchasing but with the limited release that’s not an option. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
    Keep up the great work!
    Brian

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