Russell's Reserve Straight Rye 6 Year Old 45% ABV
Wild Turkey Distillery
Taste score: 91
Category: Straight Rye, 6 Year Old
Whisky Cabinet Score: ★ ★ ★ ☆
Russell's Reserve is the premium brand of whisky from Wild Turkey Distillery. If you've been reading my reviews, you'll know I've loved everything that comes under this label. Russell's Reserve Straight Rye is priced at $30 and is readily available. Complaints of a bourbon shortage do seem overblown with whisky like this that's easily available.
While Wild Turkey doesn't release the mash bill (the starting recipe), the rumor is this is a barely legal rye. I disagree with this based on the flavor notes. The rye spice comes through wonderfully, and this tastes far more like a high-rye whisky (60-70% rye).
More importantly, the rye notes that come through on Wild Turkey products are intense. The rye is more present, louder, and yet melds well in flavor against new oak maturation. Whether this is due to the rye they use or the yeast strain from the maturation process, this feature of the rye is stellar.
Russell's Reserve has two sets of ryes. The 6 Year Old is the more common release at 45% ABV, and occasionally Wild Turkey release a Single Barrel Rye that's nearly cask strength (52% ABV). Between the two, the single barrel rye scores better but the regular rye fits better as a daily-drinker.
Nose: Rich sweet floral notes at first, reminding me of rose pedals. The higher rye notes blossom slowly as the glass sits. Continues with rye fruitiness, burnt sugar, hard candy cherry flavour, barnyard hay, concentrated lime. When you first crack open the bottle, nose is quiet but it opens up with time.
Palate: Nice soft start, kicks in with notes of chocolate, tempered rye spice, and brown sugar. The rye starts floating beyond all the sweeter notes and hangs out wonderfully. That combination of burnt sugar to start, an a lift-off of rye is beautifully balanced in the way you’d want it to be balanced in a rye. Butter sweetness carries the tasting from start to finish, and gets highlighted toward the end.
Conclusion: It's really quite nice of a whisky, but tastes just a touch watered down. I'm sure it's a great crowd pleaser at 45% ABV (90 Proof), but I'd love to see this closer to 50%. The rye comes through, but the secondary "wow" flavors are muted at this level. By comparison, the Russell's 10 bourbon is bottled at the same proof level but carries through flavor wonderfully at every stage. This is a good rye for an excellent price. If you want something that'll blow you over entirely, get the Russell's Reserve single barrel rye.
*Whisky Cabinet Rating Explained:
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆ Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★ Extraordinary, memorable, and original