When you hear about Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel private selections, a lot of recognizable names come up … Binny’s, Davidson’s, Total Wine, etc. But you don’t often hear as much buzz about smaller local shops picking excellent and unique Wild Turkey barrels. Well, Shawan Liquors of Hunt Valley, Maryland has a Russell’s selection that is certainly worthy of a whiskey enthusiast’s praise.

Truth be told, credit ultimately goes to Wild Turkey for producing fantastic whiskey – but – when it comes to selecting barrels, few have the experience, and even fewer have the talent. Maybe it was luck when Scott and Matt decided on this particular barrel. While that would certainly explain things, it seems far too simple and convenient to claim. From my experience, if you’ve tasted enough single-barrel whiskeys you know when you land on a special one. And I believe that’s exactly what these gentlemen discovered – a special barrel worthy of their store’s investment and their own personal endorsement.

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon (barrel #2293, rickhouse O, floor 3) – selected by Scott & Matt of Shawan Liquors, Hunt Valley, MD – 110-proof, non-chill filtered KSBW – no age stated (rumored at least 8 years) – distilled and bottled by the Wild Turkey Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: copper

Nose: dense vanilla & baking spice, brown sugar, sweet musty oak, leather, sweet herbs, hints of cherry syrup & faint citrus

Taste: (classic Wild Turkey) sweet & spicy vanilla, maple, sweet musty oak, brown sugar, baking spice, maraschino cherry, light herbal & floral notes

Finish: long & delicious – sticky vanilla, rich musty oak, waves of baking spice with a fruity vibe

Overall: This is the classic Wild Turkey profile from 10-20 years ago. In fact, the first time I tasted this particular Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel selection I was immediately reminded of Wild Turkey 101 eight-year and “Old No. 8” from the mid/late 1990’s. That said, there are no “dusty” notes in this Russell’s selection. It’s definitely quintessential Wild Turkey, however – the profile you unfortunately don’t find as plentiful in Wild Turkey 101 nowadays.

Shawan’s Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel #2293 is a fabulous selection that’s evolved wonderfully over the last week (quite possibly the most evolving nose I’ve ever experienced in such a short timespan). Rich, full-flavored, and memorable – this is arguably a vintage Wild Turkey in disguise. It won’t blow your senses away with complexity, but damn if it isn’t one fine single-barrel bourbon that hits all the right notes for an old Turkey fan.

I’m giving this selection a 4/5, as it flirts with 5/5-level yet stays grounded in the classic “everyman” bourbon profile that Wild Turkey has perfected so well. To Scott and Matt of Shawan Liquors – excellent work fellas. And to Scott and Matt’s boss at Shawan Liquors – give these guys a raise (please).

Rating:  4/5 🦃