When it comes to Wild Turkey rye whiskeys I have two personal favorites: Wild Turkey 101 Rye and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye. That of course leaves two Wild Turkey rye whiskey expressions standing on the sidelines: Wild Turkey Rye (81 proof) and Russell’s Reserve 6-year Rye.
There’s no need to go into great detail as to why I’m not the biggest fan of the 81-proof Wild Turkey Rye. Youthful, lower-proof whiskey is only good for one thing – mixing. At least that’s my humble opinion. So if cocktails or mixed drinks are your thing, give it a whirl.
As for Russell’s Reserve 6-year Rye, I generally find it somewhat of a half-measure. Sure, it sips easy and tastes more refined than Wild Turkey 101 Rye, arguably more balanced and mature as well. But just because Russell’s Reserve 6 is age-stated doesn’t make it a rye I reach for often. Why’s that? Profile mainly. Maybe because it’s a moderate 90 proof, maybe because it’s chill filtered, or maybe it’s the combination of both. It’s just a little too “right down the middle,” if that makes any sense.
You see, with Wild Turkey 101 Rye you might get a little younger whiskey in the batch, but you also suffer less dilution (and thereby fuller flavor). With Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye, you get even less dilution (104 proof), as well as the absence of chill filtration. It may not be cheap, but with folks paying triple digits for other comparable brands, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye is priced respectably well for its category.
But hold on. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. It might be a little too soon to keep Russell’s Reserve 6-year Rye out of the game. To be honest, my experience with Russell’s Reserve rye expressions is far less diverse than my experience with Russell’s Reserve bourbon expressions. In fact, I’ve yet to review this particular label of Russell’s Reserve 6-year. It’s a 2014 “craft strip” label, but outside of that and a name change from Austin, Nichols Distilling Co. to Wild Turkey Distilling Co., the specs are identical to the 2016 I reviewed last year. In other words, both were distilled at the old Boulevard facility that was replaced in 2011.
So, is there anything special about this Russell’s Reserve 6-year Rye label’s profile? We’ll soon find out!
Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Rye (2014) – 90 proof Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey – aged at least 6 years – reported mash bill of 51% rye, 37% corn, 12% barley – distilled by Austin, Nichols Distilling Company, Lawrenceburg, KY
Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …
Color: rich citrine
Nose: vanilla, frosted sugar cookies, lemon squares, cream soda, caramel, honey-oak, orange zest, sweet ginger
Taste: (sweet & creamy) confectioners sugar, vanilla, caramel drizzle, lemon-lime soda, Bit-O-Honey candy, faint charred oak
Finish: medium w/ pleasant warmth – vanilla candy, sweet oak, citrus zest & spice, lightly brewed herbal tea, faint pepper
Overall: Hmm … there’s something I curiously like about this particular pour. While the nose is pretty much what I was expecting, I’m caught completely by surprise with the mouthfeel. I don’t think I’ve had another Russell’s Reserve 6-year Rye or Wild Turkey 101 Rye near as creamy. The finish sticks around a bit, showcasing just enough spice to keep it lingering beyond the duration of the sweeter notes. It’s certainly balanced – not as complex as some other straight rye whiskeys of its age – but finessed and balanced nonetheless. Easy sipping and enjoyable, but nothing that’s going to give you pause or deep contemplation.
All in all, this 2014 Russell’s Reserve 6-year Rye is a quality whiskey at its everyday retail price. Apparently not quite the half measure I’d assumed. While the profile is in many way similar to recent bottles of Russell’s Reserve 6, the mouthfeel is creamier and the finish carries a slightly finer balance between sweet and spicy (just ever so slightly). Do I like it more than the initial 2007 Russell’s Reserve 6 release? Not as much. This 2014 bottle just doesn’t have the same pre-entry-proof change funky/musty notes you find from the mid-2000’s. That said, it’s a little better than the 2016 I reviewed last year and for that it deserves an appropriate score. So it is sipped; so it is done.
Rating: 3.25/5 🦃