Warning: this is longer than my typical reviews
It's not easy being a bourbon enthusiast in Canada. We're so close to the United States, yet so far away from them in terms of bourbon selection and availability. And don't get me started on pricing. I'll spare you another rant about the uncivil pricing policies of the LCBO. I'm a bit more fortunate than many, however. My parents are retired and spend five or six months in Florida every year. This allows me to send them a "Joe's Most Wanted Bourbons" shopping list of sorts and most years they're able to locate some bottles not available in Canada. Some of you may ask "Why bourbon? Why not ask them to look for single malt scotch?"
Honestly, after currency conversion from US to Canadian dollars, there isn't actually that much difference in the price of single malt scotch in Florida versus Ontario. Well, there isn't much of a difference at Total Wines and my folks aren't much interested in hunting around for little mom & pop liquor stores for deals. There is also the question of availability. Novelty provides a bit of excitement, and I'm always happy to get a bottle of something that's not normally available to every Ontarian.
I generally stick to lower and mid-priced bottles of bourbon, since the currency exchange isn't super favourable for us Canucks. Old Grand Dad 114 is one I'm always gunning for since it isn't expensive, costing me $40 or so after the currency conversion. It isn't available in Canada and it's one of my favourite all-purpose bourbons. Last year, I was hoping to score an elusive bottle of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. This one IS available in Ontario, but I refuse to pay $140 for a bottle of bourbon when it's available in the US for about $85 CAD (after currency conversion).
Unfortunately no Elijah Craig Barrel Proof was around when my buyers went to their local Total Wine. I got a video call and had to gaze at the bourbon shelf through some shaky cellphone camera work. I spotted a Russell's Reserve 10 Year Old. It wasn't the single barrel version, which is bottled at a higher abv (usually well over 50% abv), but it was better than nothing, I reasoned. I've never had a bad Wild Turkey product so I figured it was worth a shot. As Mick Jagger sang "you can't always get what you want"...
- Nose (undiluted): vanilla, cinnamon, baked apples, caramel, a hint of fresh corn, a touch of smoke
- Palate (undiluted): medium bodied, caramel, cinnamon, almonds, vanilla, black pepper, apples
- Finish: medium length, oak char, cherries, a bit of rye spice, rich vanilla lingers
Thoughts: This ended up costing me about $40 CAD after currency conversion. That's about the same price as Wild Turkey 101. I'm not sure it's better than the 101, but it's a bit different. Russell's Reserve is a bit rounder and a touch richer in texture than WT 101. Russell's Reserve still works well in a bourbon cocktail and its price point won't make you feel guilty for whipping up a Manhattan or a Whiskey Sour with it. Of course, I never feel guilty for making whisky cocktails with pricier whiskies, but some do.
Would I accept a glass of this if it were offered to me? Absolutely
- Would I order this in a bar or pub? Without a doubt
- Would I buy another bottle of this? Probably. It doesn't break the bank and is an all-around solid bourbon. I wouldn't go out of my way to hunt one down though. It's not radically different from Wild Turkey 101, and that's not a bad thing. WT 101 is a staple in my home bar. Like Mick sang: "If you try some time, you'll find, you get what you neeeeed ! Oh yeah !"