When you hear the word “bistro” do you think … bourbon?  Well, I think I’m starting to.  Back in February I reviewed a Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel private selection by the fine folks at Motor Supply Company in Columbia, SC.  It was impressive to say the least. So impressive, that it made my top-five personal favorite Russell’s Reserve picks.  But the curious thing about Motor Supply Co. is they’re not a bottle shop, nor a whiskey club, they’re a bistro – a well-respected and highly acclaimed bistro, I might add.

Shortly after reviewing Motor Supply Co.’s 2017 rickhouse B selection, I found out the team was headed back to Kentucky to find yet another Wild Turkey barrel.  My hopes were high, but my expectations reserved.  After all, with Eddie Russell overseeing selections virtually anyone has a chance at picking a phenomenal single barrel.  What if the 2017 B-pick was the outcome of pure luck?  It certainly could’ve been.

That was a few months ago and the initial reports I received from Motor Supply Co.’s Head Barman, Josh Streetman, were considerably positive.  But who isn’t happy after a barrel pick?  Sipping uncut and unfiltered Wild Turkey KSBW poured from a copper whiskey thief?  Sounds like heaven on Earth, right?

Well now the day has come.  In my hand rests the latest Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel selected by Streetman and the Motor Supply Co. crew.  This time the barrel was pulled from rickhouse D.  I’ve had D-picks before – most recently Lexington Bourbon Society’s “Final Pour,” which was an excellent selection to say the very least.  If Motor Supply’s 2018 barrel is anywhere close to the LBS barrel, I’ll be a happy man.  Now it’s time to find out if 2017’s outstanding offering was evidence of honed skill or fortuitous opportunity.  It’s time for a pour!

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon (barrel #17-0814, rickhouse D, floor 6) – selected by Motor Supply Company Bistro, Columbia, SC – 110-proof, non-chill filtered KSBW – distilled and bottled by the Wild Turkey Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color:  deep copper

Nose:  (rich bakery notes) brown sugar, caramel, vanilla spice, honey-maple, molasses, charred oak, sweet herbal tea, blood orange, leather

Taste:  (layered & balanced) toasted vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, brown sugar, “maple-infused” oak, nutmeg, gingerbread, leather, hints of orange peel & tobacco

Finish:  long, warm & flavorful – intense caramel, vanilla, maple, sweet musty oak, brown sugar, cinnamon, herbal spice, faint leather & pepper

Overall:  Well who would’ve thought?  It seems history repeats itself and lightning strikes the same place twice!  Motor Supply Co. has chosen yet another amazing Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel.  While not exactly the same as their 2017 rickhouse B selection (at least from notes and memory), it’s notably close in core profile and equally as impressive.  As with their previous barrel, you’ll find intense bakery notes: rich caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg; complemented by leather, tobacco, citrus and pepper.  And with each sip you’ll rediscover these very same elements in shifting layers of complexity.  It’s almost as if this bourbon evolves, yet never once leaves its “sweet spot.”

This is the second Wild Turkey rickhouse D pick that’s become a personal favorite.  The aforementioned Lexington Bourbon Society “Final Pour” has similar complexity with layers of beautifully rich notes.  In fact, I’d say Motor Supply’s 2018 pick falls somewhere between their 2017 pick and LBS’ Final Pour in profile.  Truth be told, I’ll have to give the edge to Motor Supply Co.  The level of balanced intensity in their barrels is incredibly hard to explain with words – a paradox of subtle and stunning.  I’m sure there are other Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel private selections out there that share this trait, they’re just few and far between.

In closing, if you find yourself in Columbia, SC be sure to stop by Motor Supply Co.  With two top-quality Russell’s Reserve selections under their belt and numerous accolades from respected sources, you just can’t go wrong.  And while I’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing one of Josh Streetman’s signature cocktails, I can only imagine how fabulous they’d be with a superior bourbon base – this Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel in particular.  Maybe next time Motor Supply Co. will venture into a Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye selection?  Based on the success of two outstanding bourbon barrels, I’d be willing to bet the bistro that a rye pick would solidify a genuine Turkey trifecta.  How about it fellas?

Rating:  4.5/5 🦃

Bottle compliments of Campari.  Special thanks to SC Campari Manager, Amy McClam, Motor Supply Co.’s Josh Streetman, and Adam Howard of Beverage Outlet, Lexington, SC