A delicious and respectable throwback to Wild Turkey’s heydays and hopefully a sign of things to come. The Russell’s Reserve 1998 release is an extremely limited run of just 2,070 bottles. This makes it one of the smallest limited releases from a major Kentucky distillery in some time. According to Wild Turkey's press release, this bourbon was initially distilled and set aside to celebrate a future milestone for Jimmy Russell, but since this bourbon reached its peak of maturity, Jimmy’s son, Eddie Russell needed to dump the barrels or risk “less desirable flavors [taking] over.” With only 23 barrels of bourbon bottled, it’s the smallest batch ever released under Jimmy and Eddie’s watch. According to Josh Peters of The Whiskey Jug, Eddie told him that while he was checking on these barrels he noticed that they were evaporating a lot faster than expected. After pulling samples and checking with his dad, they dumped the barrels into a steel holding tank towards the end of 2014, making this officially a 15-year-old bourbon (due to distillation date).
Nose: A playful marriage of sweet, spice, and oak with just the right amount of intensity. The oak can smell heavy-handed at first but is actually delicately tamed by hints of vanilla and caramel, and topped off with a cherry pop. Nutmeg spice wavers throughout and gives off a slight cinnamon potpourri scent. A swirl of the glass allows the bourbon to give off an additional layer of intensity and further solidifies that this is a well-crafted nose.
Palate: The sweetness continues with dark fruits, cherry, and vanilla bean, all of which are brilliantly offset by layers of seasoned oak and fresh wood. This keeps the sweetness from running unchecked as the flavors remain playful and never go overboard in one direction. The palate’s flavors contain a richness that's hard to get enough of and instantly communicates that this is not an average bourbon, but one that has been expertly matured.
Finish: The intensity of the palate’s flavors peak at the start of the finish, filling my throat and nose with warmth, as they begin to fade gracefully during the long finish. The oak notes maintain a consistency throughout and are ultimately the last flavors to trail off. It’s an enjoyable oak-forward finish with just the right intensity of flavors and warmth to produce a top-notch conclusion.