Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Is Now in Stores

Back in December, we told you about the new Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon. Now the folks at Wild Turkey would like us to mention it again, since it should be appearing in a store near you very soon if it's not there already.

As we told you in December, Russell's Reserve began in 2001 as a Wild Turkey line extension, named in honor of veteran Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell. As the brand has evolved, it has looked less like a line extension and more like a brand in its own right.

The folks at Campari America, which owns Wild Turkey, still know their way around vodka (Skyy) a little better than they do bourbon, so they can be forgiven for not realizing that "Small Batch Single Barrel" is redundant. They do know we like high proof (110° proof or 55% ABV) and don't like chill-filtering.

For any Wild Turkey whiskey, 110° is just about barrel proof because they have an unusually low barrel entry proof. The point of high proof whiskey is not that you're supposed to drink it that way (a little water is recommended), but that you're getting something very nearly straight from the barrel and are not paying for extra water. That's why we like high proofs.

We also like label age statements on whiskeys that cost $50 a bottle, but we don't get one here. That's too bad. The other two Russell's Reserve expressions are a 10-year-old bourbon and a 6-year-old rye, and they're more modestly priced. Considering its higher price, the Single Barrel should have one.


Lazer said...

JDSB is $50 and NAS also, but I think they have barrel #'s and bottling dates which are meaningless without a barreling date.

Oscar said...

It's young and it's a shame but that's the way it is in the bourbon world today.
I paid 48 bucks for mine and I think I paid 30 bucks to much.

Anonymous said...

Any word on if WT Rye 101 will ever make a return?

Chuck Cowdery said...

No word, but it helps to keep asking.

Josh Feldman said...

Tom, from weekend whisky blog just posted a comment on my blog post about this RRSB announcement pointing out that the label says "SMALL BATCH SINGLE BARREL". Indeed it does, plain as day. This is an oxymoron. Single Barrel is a specific term. It means that the bottling is from the dump of a single barrel. Small batch loosely means bottled from a dump of as many casks as fill our bottling tun". Now I'm confused. Is this a single barrel or a small batch product. Is Austin Nichols / Campari confused too?

Josh Feldman said...

Certainly the press release itself implies strongly that this is a real single barrel product:

"...declares Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller. “What is incredibly
special about the Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is that each barrel has its own personality,
but still captures the rich, creamy toffee vanilla style of Russell’s Reserve."

And there's the official name "Russell's Reserve Single Barrel". Still - the presence of the words "Small Batch" above "Single Barrel" on the main label makes me wonder whether someone over there doesn't know what the term "Single Barrel" actually means!

Chuck Cowdery said...

I characterized it as redundant above. Single barrel means what it means and small batch doesn't really mean anything, but logically you can't get a 'batch' much smaller than one barrel.

Anonymous said...

the old 8yo (probably older during the glut years) at 101, the current export only 8yo 101. both less than $50/bottle and w age statements. i assume that the reason they don't want to put an age statement is bc 1) out of a concern that they may not be able to maintain it and/or 2) misgivings about charging $50 for bourbon <10yo.

oops. forgot about the original rr10/101.

AaronWF said...

I've seen 'small batch single barrel' used on a number of expressions, though I can't seem to recall any right now. One thing they all have in common, though, is that there is no barrel identification on the bottle. My conclusion is that the barrels are batched by age and/or warehouse location and then bottled without mingling. Either that, or 'small batch' carries clout in marketing studies, and since it doesn't mean anything anyway, might as well stick it on the label.