- Brand: Russell's Reserve
- ABV: 55%
- Batch: LL/IE2111237 B1439D0019
I just got back from a wedding in Calgary. I’m fairly convinced that with all the crowds I’m about to come down with COVID-19 or some other virus, so in honour of my friends and colleagues to my South, I decided to do a review of a bourbon. Picking one at 55% also lets me confirm that I haven’t yet lost my sense of smell or taste.
The story behind this one goes back to December 2021. I was back in Calgary after missing the annual winter visit to the in-laws in 2019 due to another trip and in 2020 due to travel restrictions. And yes, I got exposed to a couple of nephews but thankfully they didn’t stay around long… but I digress.
I haven’t done a lot of hunting since my brother in law died. It was something he and I used to do together. But we needed something anyway and I was sent to a liquor store to pick it up. I happened to see a few interesting bottles of whisky so I snapped a photo and sent it to some friends, one of whom noticed this one and asked me to pick it up. Apparently this is a rare find anywhere, more so in Canada. I brought it back to Toronto and delivered it to him, but not weeks later he decided to give up drinking whisky. He was looking to get rid of some bottles (sealed and opened), and to help him out I offered to buy back this bottle as well as another, and he also gave me a few heels, minis and open bottles.
While there are a few bourbons that I really enjoy, I do not consider myself to be that experienced in this class of whiskey. I don’t know much about the the Russell’s Reserve brand, though I have seen a few lower proof offerings. This one is quite potent at 55% but it has no age statement. It was opened last December at an Epic Tasting with a few friends, and once again in February before being poured for my review on July 3. It’s 80% full and has been gassed after each pour.
This expression is reviewed in a Kentucky Bourbon Glass in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.
Typical bourbon nose. I get a big hit of cherry cola, baking spices, vanilla a hint of dill. The cherry is quite prominent. Water does not add anything new, but does tone down the hotness a little and the cherry is not as pronounced. (21/25)
Hot arrival. Sweet. Spicy. Cherry, vanilla. Sweet development with a hint of pepperiness toward the finish. With water it becomes more spirity on arrival. (20/25)
Fairly short. Slightly astringent. With water, a hint of coffee or cocoa in the background. (21.5/25)
I find it a little narrow in terms of flavour profile. Not very complex. Water does little to change it.
Score: Neat - 85/100 With Water: 84/100
I wonder if the NAS is a key to my findings here. I think maybe it’s a little young. I wonder if they were worried it would become too woody if they left it longer. I think they could have taken the chance.
While a pleasant sipping bourbon, I don’t think that this is at the same level as some of my favourites, like OGD 114 or Booker’s.
Given that I will rarely if ever reach for it on my own, one of my friends has graciously offered to take it off my hands in the future. It’s good to know that it will land in a home where it will truly be appreciated.
To my friends in the USA: Happy 4th of July!