Speaking from experience, it pays to travel every once in a while. I’m not talking about long distances or exotic locations. I’m talking about expanding your retail comfort zone – scoping out new stores in unfamiliar towns and neighborhoods. That’s exactly what a friend of mine did a few weeks back on a trek through Georgia. And what did he discover? Literal cases of a 2016 Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel private selection sitting undisturbed in plain sight.

Now, someone new to Wild Turkey might find this suspicious. Surely a private bourbon barrel selection collecting dust for well over three years must be sub par, right? Wrong. That might apply to some whiskey brands, but Wild Turkey? Can’t say that it frequently does, at least not universally so.

Let’s be honest. Despite recent progress, Wild Turkey still carries an undeserved stigma. While a run-of-the-mill Eagle Rare or Weller Antique barrel selection wouldn’t make it more than a few days (if that) in the South (or anywhere), a Wild Turkey barrel selection … well, we’ve still got a ways to go around here. Handles of Wild Turkey 101 move considerably faster than Wild Turkey store picks in my neck of the woods.

Back to the out-of-town Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel find … for starters, it’s a minor oddity of sorts. If you look carefully, you’ll notice the stopper is lighter in color. Veteran Wild Turkey fans should recall that when the “strip label” design changed to the current rustic red label in 2015, the stopper changed with it (from light to dark wood). This 2016 Lake Pointe Package bottle apparently breaks that pattern.

So what happened? Probably nothing interesting. Chances are, the bottling plant discovered a few crates of leftover light wood stoppers and simply made use of the surplus. At least that’s my best guess. But I should stress – the light wood stopper has no effect on the whiskey itself or the bottle’s value whatsoever. It’s just an interesting quirk.

The real question now is (as always), how does this bourbon taste? Considering I’ve been knee-deep in Camp Nelson private selections over the past few weeks, I’m willing to bet I’ll find this rickhouse H barrel refreshing (at least nice for a change of pace). H may not be my favorite Wild Turkey rickhouse, but I’ve had some excellent barrels pulled from its racks. If this Lake Pointe Package selection merely comes close, I’ll be incredibly happy. So with that, let’s pour!

RRSiB Lake Pointe H

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon (2016, barrel #198, rickhouse H, floor 4) – selected by Lake Pointe Package, Cumming, GA – 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: copper

Nose: warm vanilla pudding, apple peel, butter toffee, orange zest, caramel, nutmeg, slightly musty oak, confectioners sugar, hints of herbal & floral spice

Taste: (oily mouthfeel) vanilla spice, nutmeg, brown sugar glaze, sweet charred oak, caramel chews, candy apple, cinnamon, clove, faint black pepper

Finish: long, warm w/ pleasant spice – vanilla extract, toffee, toasted oak, brown sugar, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, sweet herbs, pepper & leather

Overall: This is a damn solid barrel. So much so, I can easily see why rickhouse H is a favorite among many Wild Turkey fans. Initially, you’re welcomed by warm, “autumn like” notes such as baked apples, orange zest, and sweet confectionery spice. Those very same notes transition effortlessly into the palate, where the spice elements become more discernible – cinnamon, clove, and hints of black pepper. The finish is arguably a bit longer than the typical Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, while its notes consistent for the expression and originating rickhouse.

Yes, I’d say Eddie Russell and Lake Pointe Package did a fine job. Why these Russell’s Reserve private selection bottles are still hanging around, aside from the aforementioned Wild Turkey stigma, I really can’t say. I’d like to think this post might change that. Maybe it’ll trigger some readers to head over to Cumming, GA and grab one or two? Or maybe I’m giving this blog far too much credit. They could very well continue to sit (which would be a helluva shame, if so). Either way, they’re out there and I’ve done my best to let everyone know.

At a time when whiskey enthusiasts are looking for the latest and greatest bourbons to stock their cabinets and amaze their friends, they often overlook the obvious. Private barrel selections are limited editions in their own right – rarer even. I mean, we’re talking about a single choice barrel with a notably finite yield. Throw in the fact that it’s a Wild Turkey Tyrone-aged rickhouse H pick from over three years ago … well, I think I’ve said enough right there. The recent run of Camp Nelson barrels are fun and flavorful, but as the yacht rock classic says, “Time for a cool change.”

Get out there. Find your long lost hit.

Rating: 4/5 🦃

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