Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Review


russells reserve single barrel Review

This K&L exclusive barrel of Russell’s Reserve is everything I love about Wild Turkey turned up to the Nth degree. Back when I reviewed the Russell’s Reserve 10 yr. Small Batch I said that if someone asked me what does bourbon taste like that I would offer them a glass of that, and I still stand by it. After the 10 we would of course explore wheated bourbons, traditional bourbons, more high rye etc., but to bring it all home I would end with this.

If you’re reading this while trying to decide if you should buy a bottle or not there are 2 things to keep in mind. #1 This is a single barrel bottling which means exactly that. They took a single barrel of whiskey and bottled it so unless you go to K&L and get a bottle from barrel 14 like I did your experience is going to be a little different. #2 Just about everything Wild Turkey makes is amazing so it’s hard to go wrong. Especially when you’re dealing with their small batch or single barrel stuff.

Overall… damn. This is some utterly fantastic bourbon. I make no pre-tense to hide the fact that I’m a Wild Turkey fanboy, but I do feel like despite my love for them I also judge their stuff fairly. I have no qualms stating that the 80 was a horrific mistake and the 81 is best served in cocktails, so when I say that this is without a doubt my favorite bottle of Wild Turkey I hope you take me seriously. This some of the most deep, complex and rich juice I have ever had from Russell and Co.

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Review

Rickhouse: C
Floor: 3
Barrel: 14

ABV: 55%
Age: 8-9 Years
Price: $60
Distiller: Austin, Nichols Distilling Company
Mashbill: 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malt

Dark Caramel

Caramel and dark fruit leap out of the bottle with toffee and vanilla coming hand-in-hand right behind. Oak and rye fill in the background with some well placed contributions from cinnamon, red licorice and mint. This is such a deep, rich and complex nose I could keep smelling it for hours and come across something new with damn near every sniff. Just while typing this up I’ve picked up burnt sugar, butterscotch, browned butter and bruleed pastry. This is astoundingly rich.

Dark fruit, caramel and an entire rack of baking spices start things off. Wood comes right behind with rye in tow while toffee and vanilla, still holding hands, come skipping through. Dark honey, corn, pink peppercorns and mint fill in most of the empty spots with that Wild Turkey fingerprint providing a solid flooring for all these amazing flavors, and then some, to dance on. Like the aroma this has an insanely rich and complex flavor and I feel like I could sit and pick out flavors for hours while exploring this one.

Brilliantly balanced with the strong rye and wood keeping the menagerie of sweet flavors in check. A thick full body that’s warm, syrupy and feels heavy on the tongue with just the right amount of burn to keep things interesting.

Wood, toffee, caramel, rye, dark fruit, vanilla and mint slowly fade to a warm sweet wood on a pleasantly long finish.

SCORE: 92/100


Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Updates

  • 9/13/16 – Finished this amazing bottle of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel and it’s… amazing. Loved this whiskey from beginning to end, but updated the score to reflect my current scoring matrix.
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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27 Responses to Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Review

  1. Soot on with the review, a few drops of water opened this up, delicious, smooth sweet and spicy with very little heat, one of the best Bourbons there is especially for the money! I am also a huge 4 roses fan ((I keep at least one bottle of each in reserve) which I never would have found without your site!

  2. Could not agree more. This bourbon is hands down my favorite and even though I wander around looking for other bourbon gems, I consistently find that this is the one that I save for myself and the best of friends. The first bottle I bought was last fall at the Wild Turkey Gift shop where I had the luck to run into Mr Russel and chat about his still rebuild at Mt Vernon. Amazing encounter and an amazing Bourbon. Cheers!

    PS, you and I are on the same wavelength as IMHO the Four Roses Single barrel is also in a class above many others.

  3. I finally found RR single bbl. available while transiting a state that boarders mine. Because Pa is a LCB state I have had no hope or chance of getting one for myself to enjoy. Of course it leapt off the shelf and into my hands. Q: how do I tell what bbl, rickhouse, floor, age, etc. associated with my bottle? Just curious. It is very good stuff, but as I am new to whisky and bourbon, it will take me a little longer to evaluate it, a process I look forward to as I compare it to others in my collection.
    Thank you for your reviews, they are helping me on my journey in appreciating the craft of this American spirit!

    • Hey Dave,

      Thank you and you’re welcome! 🙂

      As for the rick, barrel, etc. That info is usually only put on store selections and not on the regular SiB releases (unfortunately).


      • Hey Josh,

        Thank you again.
        A little off subject now, sorry if I should change the topic slightly on another part of you blog but…
        Q: have you ever reviewed or tried Elijah Craig 12yr? Just finished my first bottle and I must say it is right up there with some of the selections you have spoken highly of here. I would be very interested to get your professional evaluation in an upcoming post, if possible. Keep up the good work!

  4. Got a bottle of the “generic” RRSB a while back, and must say its a winner. Just bought another as I’m running through this bottle rather quickly. This, along with bottles of Balvenie 15 Sherried, 2014 Lagavulin 12 and Compass Box Oak Cross are my favorite pours at the moment. Anyone who is a WT fan (which I definitely am!!!) would love this. Anyone who is not would be converted.

  5. Hey Josh!

    I was curious if you tried any of K&L’s private Russell’s barrels from 2015. I believe they got three different barrels—looks like only one is still available on their site. Did you get to try any?

    Love the reviews as always.


  6. I got the last bottle of the “old label” recently at my store. It was lackluster and not a pleasant drink – until it was down to the shoulder of the bottle. There, it has opened up, and is an excellent bourbon. I don’t know how to avoid the disappointment of that first 7 or 8 ounces – maybe decant the stuff. Not likely to get another, given the “loss”.

    WT101, although younger, is blended to a certain taste standard. It is also 1/3rd the price. I cannot declare that the RR SB is 3x better.

    Most importantly, we obviously are not talking about the same barrel. That’s the luck of the draw given the ABC character of my State. I have another new label bottle not yet opened. Maybe I’ll get lucky!

    Great review, by the way. 97 is one good mark!

    • I’ve nearly finished this SiB and I’d say that over the course of the bottle it settled into a 94, but that’s still an amazing bourbon and hands down the best RRSiB I’ve ever had. Like you said, that’s just the luck of the draw. Though like you also said when the WT101 is as good as it is that makes it tough to pay so much more for the rest 🙂

  7. Just tried a Russel’s Reserve SB selected for the Virginia ABC (has a nice little tag with barrel and warehouse info). Wow – smooth, complex flavors, just what you want to wind down a great day. Or a bad one while you look ahead to better times.

    I’m relatively new to single barrel releases and would love to see an article about how much variability to expect. I’ve tried Knob Creek single barrel from a couple of bottling and both were great, a little different, but true to the brand’s character. Same with Four Roses (not the limited release, just the regular single barrel). But two other brands – one expensive, one relatively cheap – got great reviews but the barrelss my bottles came from were not worthy. One was not bad, just flat and thin flavors, and other was overwhelmingly like corn huskings that have sat in the trash for a few days. s

    • Hi James,

      Thanks for sharing! Variability kind of depends on the brand. I’ve had pretty good luck with both Four Roses and Russell’s SiBs, but the Jack Daniels SiBs on the other had seem to have a huge amount of variance. I’ve some some that were incredible and others that were down right terrible.


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