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Whiskey Barons “W.B. Saffell” Batch 1 Review

Whiskey Barons “W.B. Saffell” Batch 1 Review

This is the third of three “Whisky Barons Collection” reviews. Read the rest of the story by clicking on the links for Old Ripy and Bond & Lillard when you’re done!

W.B. Saffell is the last release of the polarizing Whiskey Barons Collection released from Campari. The first two releases – Old Ripy and Bond & Lillard were notable because of how Campari tried to distance their creation from any involvement by the Russell’s. But W.B. Saffell is different. There is no murkiness about the Russell’s involvement because Campari comes right out and says that Eddie had full control over the project.

W.B. Saffell’s legacy lives on in a beautiful mansion located in Lawrenceburg, KY that has now been converted to a funeral home. But just like the other bottles from the Whiskey Barons Collection, the history is just one aspect of why these bottles exist. The other is as a test-bed to introduce slight variances in Wild Turkey bourbon onto consumers to see how they respond.

The previous two Whiskey Barons releases were mired in rumors and speculation about their origin. And when enthusiasts tasted them, the response was tepid. Aside from the beautiful packaging, the collection was kind of a bust. To the many reviewers who tried them, the taste was not up to their standards and the price was too high. Campari had one more chance with W.B. Saffell. It would be released two full years after Old Ripy – but could Eddie help the collection find any redemption?

W.B. Saffell specs

Just like the two bottles before it, W.B. Saffell still commanded a retail price of $49.99. The main issue many consumers had with the whole series is that they were getting half the liquid of a normal bottle of Wild Turkey. But in 2019, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrels were climbing past $80 on the secondary market. So if W.B. Saffell ended up being some really good bourbon, it might not be such a bad value in the eyes of enthusiasts after all.

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrels were typically around 8.5 years old in 2019 and W.B. Saffell promised a blend of 6, 8, 10 and 12 year old barrels. It was also bottled at 107 proof – just a few points shy of RRSiB’s 110 proof. Another bonus was that both were non-chill filtered.

On paper, W.B. Saffell looked more similar to a bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed. But what would it taste like? There’s only one way to find out. I sampled this neat in a glencairn.

Tasting Notes

Nose: An inviting scent of warm pecan pie and musty oak lure me in. The aroma of chocolate is unique while sweet caramel scents pull me in closely. Fruit scents revolve around toasted orange peel and cherry with a little hint of fresh-cut honeydew melon.

Palate: The flavors that first pop out are caramel, seasoned oak and pipe tobacco. There is a decent amount of rye influence with each sip where I can find black pepper, cinnamon and allspice. The mouthfeel is thick and oily. I still can find the chocolate from the nose, only now it’s on my tongue. The cherry notes becomes stronger and the citrus zest flavors add a nice depth of flavor. The flavor in this bottle is better balanced and frankly better in every way compared to Wild Turkey Rare Breed. It even has more complexity than most bottles of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel.

Finish: The finish sees fruit notes highlighted a bit more than they had been on the palate. There’s still a nutty aftertaste that pairs well with cigar flavors and well-seasoned oak. The sweetness from the caramel and vanilla are welcome at the end and for spice, a new one appears that I hadn’t noticed before – Spanish Paprika. The whole finish really goes out with a bang. 

Score: 8/10


This bottle is the most impressive new Wild Turkey product that had been released up to that point. For whatever reason, it drank older than its number suggest. The flavors are deep and impactful and the nose is as decadent as they come. Some reviewers, like Rarebird101, argued that it was so good that the only other Wild Turkey bourbon it competed with in recent years was Russell’s Reserve 2002. That’s very high praise.

Final Thoughts

Most enthusiasts brushed off W.B. Saffell’s hype after it came out. But slowly and surely they got to taste it for themselves and realized what the big deal was. By that time, it was almost too late. These bottles didn’t last long on the shelves. But the interesting thing is that they seem to still be out there – tucked away in the back corners of retailers’ warehouses or maybe in the stockrooms of liquor stores.

As I mentioned in my other Whiskey Baron reviews, Indianapolis and Chicago recently saw a lot of these bottles hit the shelves again in late 2023. I’m not sure what’s going on, but you can be assured I grabbed another bottle when I saw it. Lightning rarely strikes twice and this time, I was ready. The question is: will you be too?

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Ratings Breakdown

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 (13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)

10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)

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