A few weeks ago, on a sunny-day casual Turkey hunt, I discovered a 2006 Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon hiding on a shelf of 2010-era bottles. Prior to 2005, Russell’s Reserve 10-year was 101 proof bearing a completely different design. Those bottles are long gone, but if you’re lucky there’s a chance you can still find a brown-label 90-proof iteration (2005-2009).

What’s so special about finding these particular bottles? Isn’t it just plain old Russell’s 10? The answer is … it depends. If you want something truly special, you need to find bottles from the first two years of production (2005-2006), where the glass lacks embossing and the laser code is printed on the reverse label. These were bottled at Lawrenceburg, Indiana (Pernod Ricard’s bottling facility).  Alternatively, laser codes etched on the glass itself will indicate bottles filled at Fort Smith, Arkansas (see my Wild Turkey Timeline for reference).

While there may be Russell’s Reserve 10-year bottles after 2006 that have similar bourbon to the first two years, I’ve yet to experience that. This may give credence to some “bottled by” conspiracy theories, though I’m personally not in that camp.

Enough of the technical details. The real proof is in the pudding. Let’s pour!

Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon (2006 “brown label”) – 90-proof KSBW – aged at least ten years – distilled by the Austin, Nichols Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: dark rosy copper

Nose: rich vanilla, maple syrup, honey, blood orange, ripe cherry, musty/funky oak, herbal tea, floral perfume

Taste: maple syrup, vanilla, honey, caramel chews, citrus, baking spice, musty oak, tobacco, leather, vegetal notes

Finish: (finishes slightly above proof) medium in duration – full/round, warm & sticky – fading vanilla, musty oak, herbal/floral spice

Overall:  This Russell’s Reserve 10-year is in many ways the essence of classic Wild Turkey. Rich vanilla? Check. Thick maple/toffee? Check. Musty/funky oak? Check. Fragrant herbal/floral spice? Check. Dusty bottle vibe? Hell yes!

This is one of my favorite Wild Turkey expressions out there – even at 90 proof. Is it “Cheesy Gold Foil” level? No, but it’s definitely mature and showcasing some of the best aspects of the CGF profile (in moderate doses, of course). In fact, this 2006 Russell’s 10-year tastes remarkably similar to my 2003 Wild Turkey 101/12 export – eleven-point proof difference and all. Trust me. I had to taste side by side to confirm, but it’s the truth. Hard to believe how good $34 can taste. A bonafide blast-from-the-past diamond in the rough!

Rating:  4.5/5 🦃