When I look back on my Wild Turkey reviews, rickhouse H has performed consistently well over the years. So much so, I’m surprised it isn’t a personal favorite. Nevertheless, I appreciate the citrus and herbal/floral profile that barrels from H often showcase. It’s not a profile I seek out regularly, but when I’m looking to scratch that itch there’s few bourbons that compare. Case in point, Dallas Bourbon Club’s “Lost & Found” Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel selection. We’ll talk more about this whiskey’s profile soon enough. For now, I’d like to shift focus to its origin, as there’s an important takeaway for readers.
A few months ago I was contacted by two members of the Dallas Bourbon Club regarding their latest Russell’s Reserve private barrel selection. Founded in 2013, the Dallas Bourbon Club is composed of roughly 125 like-minded whiskey enthusiasts who gather to share their appreciation of the spirit and give back to their community. Such was the case in 2018, when $4,000 was raised for Toys for Tots at the DBC’s annual Christmas party, and thousands more for local law enforcement and UT Southwestern’s NICU. I admire a quality whiskey club – especially those that strive to help their community – so when Pete and Brian reached out to me, I was happy to dedicate time to share my thoughts on their barrel.
But there’s a twist. It wasn’t originally their barrel.
Earlier this year, the DBC was contacted by a local retailer aware of two Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel private selections that had been sitting at the distributor’s warehouse for some time. Not wanting to let a potentially golden opportunity pass them by, the club procured a bottle from each barrel and shared the whiskey among its members. It didn’t take them long to realize that one was special. And what do you know? It came from rickhouse H.
Based on the selection tag, the barrel was pulled for the private selection program back in 2017 (the two-digit barrel number prefix, in this case 17, provides that information). It doesn’t necessarily mean that 2017 was the year it was selected and purchased from the distillery, though the chances are pretty good. But there was another thing that struck me about the barrel number. It’s one digit away from one helluva memorable selection, Lincoln Road’s Russell’s Reserve #17-990 (also from H-4). Okay, DBC – you have my attention.
Naturally, I was thrilled to put “Lost & Found” through the paces. Its location pedigree surely warranted it, as I sometimes feel I may have rated Lincoln Road’s 990 a little too conservatively. But time goes by and my 990 is no more. And while I have those memories to reflect upon, it’s always best to approach every barrel as such – a single barrel. So with that, let’s give this bourbon a pour and see how things shake out.
Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon (2019 release) – barrel #17-991, rickhouse H, floor 4 – selected by Scott Jenkins & Nick Backlund, discovered by the Dallas Bourbon Club, Dallas, TX – 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 …
Nose: (sweet & citrus-forward) vanilla frosting, orange, lemon-honey, fruity oak, nutmeg, confectioners sugar, herbal & floral spice, honeydew, sweet tea, hints of dandelion
Taste: (oily/buttery) vanilla, butter toffee, caramel drizzle, lemon zest, sweet oak, nutmeg, toasted brown sugar, orange peel, herbal spice, faint cinnamon & clove
Finish: medium-long & notably balanced – salted caramel, zesty charred oak, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, waves of herbal spice & leather
Overall: No doubt, an excellent Russell’s Reserve private selection. I must give credit where credit is due – Eddie Russell and Mother Nature did a damn fine job watching over this barrel. For those that appreciate a sweeter bourbon with loads of citrus zest and fragrant herbal spice, “Lost & Found” is arguably the perfect bourbon. It’s complex, sips remarkably easy (almost too easy), and steers clear of profile fringes like earthiness and “funk.” And, considering the sea of Camp Nelson offerings out there at the moment, “Lost & Found” is quite the enjoyable and refreshing change up.
Well done, DBC! You rescued a choice barrel destined for potential standard retail distribution.
Rating: 4/5 🦃
Earlier in this post I mentioned a takeaway. If you haven’t caught it by now, it’s pretty straightforward. How you approach it, however, is where you’ll need a trustworthy connection and a pinch of finesse.
Barrels get left behind. It happens. Sometimes they’re returned, such as the case with Emerald City Liquor’s recent CNA pick; sometimes stores, restaurants, and bars simply go out of business. Things happen, and when they do, it’s often the distributor that’s left holding the bag (or in this case, the barrel). Taking that into consideration, one might be keen to have their retailer inquire on abandoned Wild Turkey barrels. Their local Campari representative should be aware of any such status and would likely be grateful to redistribute accordingly.
But above all else, please work through the system, not around it. It’s always possible that barrels may appear abandoned when they’re not. For example, “Swan Song” and “Russell the Muscle” were held for two months in lieu of Eddie Russell’s visit to Lexington, SC. Had someone bypassed the proper channels, it’s possible those bottles could’ve been ordered and delivered elsewhere. Every state’s distribution system is different, but none are flawless and the risk is always there. Again, keeping your Campari representative in the loop cannot be overstated.
Finally, if you do find yourself in possession of an abandoned barrel, please don’t make it out to be greater than it actually is. It’s an abandoned barrel for Turkey’s sake. It’s not rare or any more choice than any other Russell’s Reserve or Kentucky Spirit private selection. Exploiting these finds through delusional promotion is opportunistically silly at best (downright greedy at worst), so be smart and stay humble. Remember, you didn’t pick the damn thing – you purchased it. Share in the delight of your discovery or put the acquisition to good work via charitable causes. Follow the example of the DBC and perhaps your retailer, distributor, or Campari representative will take note. You might just find yourself first on their call list if future private barrels are left behind. Cheers! dj