Very well balanced between sweet and spice, no off notes or rough edges.
The finish, while flavorful, is very short.
Anyone who has spent much time in my home or conversed with me in the WBSE Facebook group has learned pretty quickly that I am a huge fan of Jimmy and Eddie Russell and the bourbons that they make at Wild Turkey. Outside of water, the Russell’s Reserve bourbons – both the small batch 10 year and 110 proof single barrel – are probably the highest consumed liquid in my house.
It was only later in my whiskey journey that I discovered that Wild Turkey also made rye whiskey. I learned that the Wild Turkey 101 rye brand had quite a cult following, but was all but extinct due to short supply. When my local store all of the sudden had a few liters of it on the shelf for $30 each, I immediately snatched one and dove in with great expectations! Unfortunately, for the first time a whiskey made by the Russell’s failed to impress me, and I ended up choking down that bottle in cocktail form mixed with equal parts vermouth. It was too sweet for my preferences (sweeter, oddly enough, than their bourbon in my opinion) and full of licorice notes and herbal qualities that I did not care for.
So I forgot that rye was made at Wild Turkey for some months, perfectly content with my bourbons, until a fateful day when a friend gave me pour of his Russell’s Reserve Rye Single Barrel (the green label), bottled at 104 proof. It was exquisite! All the sudden, Wild Turkey rye whiskey was back on my radar, but I didn’t want to spend $60 for a full bottle of RR Single Barrel based off of only one pour from a friend’s bottle. So when I saw a bottle of the small batch 6 year for $30, I took the plunge again, and boy am I glad I did.
- Distilled, aged, and bottled at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY
- Mash bill of 63% rye, 23% corn, 12% malted barley
- Aged for a minimum of 6 years
- Bottled at 45% ABV (90 proof)
Nose: Equal parts sweet and spice. Creamy caramel, toasted almonds, allspice, and dry cinnamon. Refined and relatively simple, without any rough edges. After a rest, a mature wood note develops alongside a touch of baked apples.
Palate: A barrage of rye spice, pepper, dill, and vanilla greet me on the arrival before full and lasting notes of caramel and woodspice take over. Unlike the 101 rye, the sweetness is appropriately balanced by the spice and pepper, and thankfully the dill note stays in the background where it belongs.
Finish: Drying but not bitter. Cinnamon, fresh baked bread, and allspice. The flavor delivers, but the finish is unsatisfyingly short lived.
Buying Recommendation: Must try! This is a refined, balanced, and very enjoyable sipping rye in an affordable price range. It’s not as bold as some younger and higher proof ryes like Old Overholt Bonded, Knob Creek Rye, or Rittenhouse, but it’s much less brash and more refined, and overall scores higher than those in my book. There’s something to be said for not just punching me in the face with flavor, but giving that flavor a dose of subtlety and elegance. The extra year or two that this has over the 101 rye seems to have really allowed those rye and wood spice notes to develop, and gives this a perfect balance of flavor that makes it an excellent overall whiskey.
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: Truly Exceptional
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