30 Days of Wild Turkey: Day 44 (Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel “Freedom Ain’t Free”)

Wild Turkey

Chapter 10, Part 1:

For the second consecutive year, over the month of November, Flight Club will be bringing you “30 Turkeys in 30 days.”  Each day, we will post a review of a different Wild Turkey product.  Throughout that journey, we will provide you with background information on the company, the products, and the people behind the products, all of which we hope create a better understanding of what Wild Turkey brings to the world of bourbon and rye whiskey.  A table of contents for each of these posts can be found here.

Today we take a second look at Russell’s Reserve Single Barrels bourbons.

In our first look at Russell’s Reserve, we featured the stories of Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie Russell, present day co-Master Distillers.  Together, the Russell’s launched Russell’s Reserve in 2001.   It was a 101 proof, 10 year bourbon, named in honor of Jimmy Russell.  It has more recently been reduced to 90 proof.

In around 2012, the Russell’s Reserve brand would be expanded to include a non-age stated, 110 proof single barrel bourbon called Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel.  It is non-chill filtered. 

Last year we looked at several store picks and standard bottles from the last five or so year.  This year we look at an older “Split Label” and four recent store picks from around the country.  We finish this look with the recently released Russell’s Reserve 2002.

Today’s pick was selected for Yorkshire Liquors in Memphis, Tennessee.  It was selected on Memorial Day, 2018 – hence the name.  Flight Club member Eric Schroeder participated in the barrel pick.  This barrel aged at the famous Camp Nelson property located some distance from the Wild Turkey Distillery.  Camp Nelson was a civil war site, which now houses six Wild Turkey rickhouses.

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel  – Freedom Ain’t Free (Barrel #18-0166, Rickhouse CN A, Floor 5) (110 Proof) (Sampled by Scott HillStephen Netherton, Jamie Baalmann and Eric Schoeder)

Nose: Chocolate; raisins; Milk Duds; green oak that develops a bit of cedar and dust with time in the glass; stewed cherries; Harry and David pears; baking spice.  A very satisfying nose.  (3/5)

Palate: Oily; unpopped popcorn; white pepper; yellow bell pepper; diluted cherry Kool-aid; baking spice; rye spice and baked bread; sharp but not overly spicy.  We feel that this bottle needs to open up a bit, and when it does we think it can only improve.   (2.5/5)

Finish: Medium-long; aftertaste of a Twix bar; polished oak; a little funk at the tail end.  We are excited to see this one with a bit of oxidation. (3/5)

Overall: A little bit off profile for typical Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel – this feels more like a Russell’s Reserve 10 year profile, so it’s possible this is older but possibly in a cooler area. Some of the flavors are slightly muted.   But it drinks way under-proof.  Enjoyable.  (3/5)

Value: This is a cool pick and a great nod to our troops.  But for the bourbon alone, we are used to seeing these a bit cheaper than this $60 price tag.  (2.5/5)

“A little bit off profile for Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel.”

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel


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