30 Days of Wild Turkey: Day 89 (Russell’s Reserve 1998)

For the third 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. A table of contents for each of these posts can be found here.

Chapter 18, Part 11:

We close out Wild Turkey Month 2019 with a dozen limited edition or classic Wild Turkey releases.  Some of these are products that we have tried before, but with a different release year.  Others are products that we have not previously laid hands on.  But without a doubt, each of these Wild Turkey products are an exciting look back at the history of Wild Turkey.

For these last two days of Wild Turkey Month 2019, we review one of the most well received Wild Turkey products to be released in this past decade (Russell’s Reserve 1998), along with one of the most desirable Wild Turkey products of all time (Wild Turkey Kentucky Legend a/k/a “Donut”).  While they are two fairly different products, both show why Wild Turkey special releases are a favorite of many.

This Russell’s Reserve 1998 was a 2015 release bourbon distilled in 1998, making the bourbon a 15 year aged product.  It was released at full cask strength at 102.2 proof and non-chill filtered.  Only 2,070 bottles were released.

According to many sources, the barrels that were ultimately used for this Russell’s Reserve 1998 release had been set aside by Eddie Russell to help commemorate Jimmy Russell’s retirement, which as we all know has still yet to happen.  After 15 years in the barrel, Eddie moved on to plan “b” and bottled it up.

While we at Flight Club have never been able to find a bottle, I was fortunate enough to find it at a bar on a recent trip to San Francisco.  Unfortunately, it was $90 an ounce, the most I’ve ever paid for a pour of bourbon at a bar.  Would I be disappointed?

Russell’s Reserve 1998 (102.2 Proof) (15 Year) (sampled by Scott Hill)

Nose: Rich nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and rye spice coupled with floral and an oak that is a delightful blend of clean and dusty/musty; sweet vanilla and caramel, with some deep cherry; light citrus; almond. (4.5/5)

Palate: Exactly what was expected from the nose. Rich dark cherry/fruit coupled with some burnt sugar and orange citrus; more nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper spice; more of the same oak that couples the new and old oak flavors (think fresh sawn oak stave thrown into a dank oak barrel); almond; vanilla; floral; leather and slightly earthy; tobacco. The oak flavors leave a slight hint of astringency, but the overwhelming complementary sweeter/fruitier flavors drowns that out. (4.5/5)

Finish: Warm and long. The earthy wood notes from the palate lead into a long, fruit, sweet vanilla and spice heavy finish. (4/5)

Overall: This is almost like a high school essay. First, it tells you what it is going to tell you, then it tells you, then it tells you again what it just told you. And that isn’t disappointing. While in many pours I want or expect a transition of flavors from the nose to the palate to the finish, the nose on this pour doesn’t hide with this experience is all about. And it shouldn’t when the flavors are this satisfying.  (4.5/5)

Value:  I’m almost embarrassed to say that even at $90 an ounce, I was satisfied.  (3/5)

“While in many pours I want or expect a transition of flavors from the nose to the palate to the finish, the nose on this pour doesn’t hide with this experience is all about. And it shouldn’t when the flavors are this satisfying.”

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