Russell’s Reserve Straight Rye Single Barrel Review - The Fancy Wild Turkey

Russell’s Reserve is the high-end brand from Wild Turkey Distillery. It’s a little more expensive (but still affordable), with the focus on big flavours. This is one of the things I truly love about Wild Turkey Distillery; they have a simple quality chart. Wild Turkey Bourbon (formally 81) is the cheap stuff. Wild Turkey 101 is the good stuff. Wild Turkey Rare Breed is the fancy stuff. Russell’s Reserve is the posh stuff (insofar as bourbon gets posh, which let’s face it — it's not intended to be all that posh).

Earlier in the year I reviewed Russell’s Reserve 6 Years Old Rye bottled at 45% ABV. It’s delicious, but I found myself yearning for a little more bite. The Single Barrel is bottled at 52% ABV. It’s not quite barrel proof (it is water-downed) but it is high-proof. There’s bite. There’s character. It’s intense. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye has all the elements of a great rye.

Let’s look at tasting notes:

Russell’s Reserve Straight Rye Single Barrel
Wild Turkey Distillery
Category: Straight American Rye, Single Barrel, No Aage Statement
Score: 92.5

Nose: Cinnamon, green apple flavored hard candy, intense (but light) caramel, barnyard notes, crushed orange, and a touch of lime.

Palate: Sharp just milled black pepper with rich apple, caramel, and cinnamon notes. Brown sugar takes control of the middle of the palate. The rye and oaky notes play off each other well, and both are incredibly intense. There’s a fresh squeeze of lime zest through the middle to really wake that palate up. It’s tart, like a lime, with sugar (think margarita rim). The finish is quite peppery, buttery, and mouth-watering. Rich nutty notes come out over time.

★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have in its category
True rye drinkers are a finicky brand of whisky drinker. I know, because I am one myself. Russell’s Reserve Rye is closer to bourbon than it is to a true high-rye American whisky, but in that way, it offers the best of both worlds. What marks a great whisky is the mouth-watering reaction one has, that eagerness for the next sip, and that next sip being equally intense. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye does just that: it’s priced well, available, and rarely lasts long in my house.

*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