It’s been a while since I last reviewed a Lincoln Road Package Store private selection. Is that something I should be doing regularly? Absolutely.

When it comes to mom & pop liquor store private barrel selections, Jamie and Misty Farris top the charts. Not only are they genuine folks who care about what they do, they’re respected by the Russells and virtually everyone I know and associate with in the whiskey community. They also have a knack for picking excellent barrels. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Simply find a bourbon friend that lives near Hattiesburg, Mississippi and have them pick up a bottle or two for you. The Farris’ maintain a diverse list of private barrel selections – many of them Wild Turkey barrels, though there are plenty of others to choose from as well. Regardless of what you purchase, I’m confident you’ll be pleased.

I really didn’t want to bring up our current state of pandemic, but I think it’s important to reiterate something I’ve heard promoted by Fred Minnick, Breaking Bourbon, and others – there’s no better time to open special bottles, as time is a luxury, not a guarantee. What constitutes a special bottle? Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be something rare, allocated, or vintage. It can be any bottle you’ve saved that’s personal or meaningful to you. From private barrel selections to particular batches or bottlings of an everyday expression – whatever you’ve set aside to open at a later date, now’s the time to consider popping those corks. For me, it’s a rickhouse G Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon selected by Jamie Farris and Eddie Russell back in 2016.

For the record, I’ve yet to grow tired of Wild Turkey’s rickhouse G. You might recall that last week’s review was a 2016 Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit bottling from G (and damn, was it delicious). There’s just something about barrels aged at that location. While difficult to explain through words alone, I can say that barrels pulled from G often exhibit layered, well-rounded, yet notably balanced traits. A little bit of everything, but not too much of one thing in particular (if that makes sense). At least that’s proven my experience over the last four years.

Now it’s time to see if Lincoln Road’s barrel #154 measures up to its past Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel selections from rickhouse G. From the Farris’ 15th Anniversary release, to barrels selected alongside Kentucky Owl’s Dixon Dedman, there’s a lot of internal competition to consider. As for vendors outside of Lincoln Road … Hell, I’ve had state distributor picks from rickhouse G that I’ve found to be excellent. It’s just that impressive of a location. All it takes is a little luck and a lot of paying attention to find something spectacular.

Jamie Farris, Eddie Russell RRSiB

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon, Lincoln Road Package Store (barrel #154, rickhouse G, floor 5) – selected by Jamie Farris and Eddie Russell – 110-proof, non-chill filtered KSBW – no age stated – distilled and bottled by the Wild Turkey Distilling Co., Lawrenceburg, KY

Tasted neat in a Glencairn after a few minutes rest …

Color: copper

Nose: (reminiscent of CNF) dense caramel, vanilla pudding, English toffee, brown sugar, sweet oak, cola, molasses, blood orange, tobacco, nutmeg, faint cinnamon & clove

Taste: (“bourbon in a bakery”) creme brulee, toasted caramel, brown sugar, charred maple-oak, cherry cola, sassafras, leather, honey, hints of clove & zesty orange

Finish: vanilla/herbal spice, salted caramel, black pepper, oak char, tobacco, leather, spiced gumdrops (sugar, cinnamon, clove, licorice, etc.)

Overall: What a fantastic barrel! Had I tasted Lincoln Road’s #154 (G-5) blind, there’s no doubt in my mind I would’ve (mistakenly) placed its origins as Camp Nelson F, as the cherry cola and clove notes frequently found in well-aged, sixth-floor CNF selections are very much present. I’m also getting a fair share of creamy bakery notes on the palate, strikingly similar to those showcased in 2017’s Tyrone B and D picks. As stated earlier, rickhouse G barrels often exhibit a little bit of everything (and in this case, a helluva lot of something incredible). It’s robust, flavorful, and stands out as exemplary among the vast array of single-barrel Kentucky bourbons (from Wild Turkey or any other distillery). At least that’s my take on it.

Rating: 4.5/5 🦃

You know, I’m very happy I opened this bottle. I’d been saving it for something, I just didn’t know what. And isn’t that the case for so many “bunkered” whiskeys? We’re saving them for later – for that one special day or time. We don’t really know what or when that might be. We just know it’s not today. In light of our present situation, perhaps it should be. Thanks to Fred, Breaking Bourbon, and so many others encouraging us to think twice about our hobby logic.

Bourbon is made for drinking and sharing. Sure, sought-after bottles look pretty on a shelf. They make us feel good knowing they’re safe in our possession – their magic locked up for the indefinite future. But what solace will that provide if that day never comes? I’d argue none. A full bottle is merely the potential for a satisfied soul. An empty bottle … Well, that’s satisfaction delivered.

Cheers and stay safe everyone.

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