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Cigar Spirits: Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Small Batch Bourbon

30 May 2013

About a decade ago, as small batch bourbon was really taking off, Wild Turkey released Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Bourbon as a limited release. A few years later it became a regular release, and gradually shed the Wild Turkey branding as it became its own line.

russellsreserve10Of course the influence of Wild Turkey never really went anywhere given that it’s distilled and aged at Wild Turkey and is named after its Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, who says this 10 year bourbon is the spirit he drinks most regularly. The 10 year “small batch” spirit is bottled at 90-proof and sells for around $30 (I picked up a bottle for $32).

Russell’s Reserve 10 is a dark, amber-colored bourbon that shows a good bit of vanilla sweetness along with soft oak and hints of dried fruit. It has a rich mouthfeel that tingles the palate with lots of dry woodiness, cinnamon spice, roasted nuts, and only hints of sweetness. The finish is long with more oak and candied flavors.

It’s a fine spirit for the price and one that is very approachable, yet with enough complexity to keep even the discerning palate interested. I tasted some side by side with the barrel strength Wild Turkey Rare Breed (essentially just a different expression of the same mash bill) and, even accounting for the difference in proof, found the Russell’s Reserve more rounded and refined.

That refined complexity makes Russell’s Reserve Small Batch 10 Year perfect for mild- and medium-bodied smokes. I found the EPC Short Run 2012 a perfect pairing. For something more medium-bodied, I enjoyed the Viaje Late Harvest.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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