The nationwide COVID-19 affected each distillery in its own unique way. Wild Turkey essentially halted all barrel picks on their premises. It took a month or two to eventually start back up their program. When they did, on-site barrel picks were temporarily halted. So if a customer wanted to pick a single barrel, Wild Turkey would mail them three samples to choose from.
More than any other barrel-pick program, Wild Turkey picks lost a significant piece of its allure since the Russell’s couldn’t be there by your side. There was also an issue with the customer finally receiving their barrel picks once they were submitted as many had to wait over 6 months before they came in.
Each year at Wild Turkey, a certain number of warehouses are selected to pull barrels from. For 2020 there were barrels from Warehouses B, E, G and S. I can’t say with certainty what kinds of barrel characteristics each warehouse is known for, but I was under the impression that B and G would produce the most classic Wild Turkey profiles while Warehouse E would have a higher chance of producing more off-profile barrels. This would be the first year that any RRSiB picks would come out from Warehouse S, so it would be anyone’s guess what kinds of barrels those would turn out like.
Today I am taking a look at one of two barrels selected by Rural Inn at the beginning of the pandemic. Ray didn’t receive these bottles until right before Thanksgiving, but I was happy to be able to pick up both. One was from Warehouse E and the other was from Warehouse G. Today I’m looking at the Warehouse G pick. I sampled this neat and in a Glencairn.
Nose: There are a handful of scents that I always attribute to Wild Turkey products: caramel, nougat and a nutty funk. Those scents are all found here and usually make me think of a melted candy bar when I smell them. I also detect vanilla custard and some mild oak as well, making this a classic and delicious dessert profile.
Palate: Oak hits the tongue first which is somewhat surprising for a Russell’s pick (at least for me). Also surprising: rye spices come next such as peppermint and cinnamon. They also help to amp up the heat on my tongue as well. But as the sip sets in my mouth for a short time, I pick up on the sweetness of this particular barrel and it reminds me of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I usually detect apples or cherries in my Wild Turkey, but find none of those notes here. Instead, the only fruit that hits is toasted orange peel. Ultimately, the biggest surprise is is how spice-forward the whole palate is.
Finish: The finish leans towards being a bit shorter than I’m accustomed to with other RRSiB’s. There’s tannins galore with charred oak and dry leather but also more of that satisfying candy profile follows its way through with slightly burnt toffee, peanut brittle and Milky Way Candy Bar.
I was expecting this Warehouse G pick to contain all of the classic Turkey notes that fans of the brand like about it. For this, I was not let down. However, the key things I picked up on was the fact that the nose and finish were surprisingly light while the palate was spicier than most RRSIBs I’ve had in the past. This doesn’t make it bad, but it’s not totally what I was expecting in a dram like this. The lack of fruit notes left me a bit miffed, but I’m betting most Wild Turkey fans don’t pine over that characteristic.
In the end, I’m rating this somewhat low compared to other Russell’s Reserve picks that I’ve had because I felt that the complexity and depth weren’t really there. This was certainly an enjoyable dessert pour, but I was hoping for something a bit more. If you love classic Turkey notes, this is your bottle, but otherwise there’s not too much more to get excited about here. Dare I say that this pick would be comparable to a good single barrel of Baker’s than anything else. But with the pricetag going up on these Russell’s bottles, the value proposition isn’t what it used to be in terms of enjoyment per dollar.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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