Calling a bourbon whiskey the “last of its kind” feels pretty inflated from the jump. Some might even call it hyperbole. But it’s true. Wild Turkey’s new limited release of Russell’s Reserve Single Rickhouse is never going to be seen again, and that’s kind of the whole point.
Let’s get some details out of the way before we dive into the review of the juice. The new Russell’s Reserve line is a limited edition and the first in a yearly expression drop, or “limited collection” if you will. The inaugural edition of the new Rickhouse Collection is from Wild Turkey’s famed and very old Rickhouse C in Camp Nelson, an off-site set of rickhouses where barrels are stored. Rickhouse C at Camp Nelson was literally falling apart and has since been bulldozed. Before that happened, Eddie Russell, Wild Turkey’s Master Distiller, went through and tasted all the barrels and found that the center cut was a honey pot of amazing bourbon barrels. He found 72 prime barrels and made this whiskey.
Here’s what makes this special: each rickhouse/warehouse has its own vibe and biome (if you really want to get scientific). Different warehouses will produce barrels of whiskey with wildly different flavor profiles even though those warehouses are mere yards apart — florae and fauna, atmospheric pressure, stock, weather patterns (and protection from treelines or other warehouses), and human interaction all help create little micro-biomes in each warehouse. So the juice in this bottle of Russell’s Reserve will never be tasted again. That environmental biome that it was made in is gone… forever.
That makes this whiskey something truly special and worth a stand-alone review. So let’s get into what’s actually in this bottle!
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Russell’s Reserve Single Rickhouse Limited Release Rickhouse Collection Camp Nelson C
Average Price: $249 (Limited time and only in CA, FL, TX, and CO)
All of Wild Turkey’s bourbon is made from the same mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. Comparatively, Turkey uses less rye and more barley than your average bourbon. These barrels were loaded into Rickhouse C in Camp Nelson and left alone on floors three and four for years (those are the central floors of the seven-story rickhouse). As the rickhouse was falling apart and it became clear it was beyond repair (nearly hundred-year-old structures tend to do that), the Russell crew started tasting whiskey to see what they could do with it. 72 barrels rose to the surface with a parallel flavor structure that became this whiskey, which was bottled completely as-is without filtration or proofing.
The bottle is a classic Russell’s Reserve bottle with a wide body. The label is dark forest green and feels like something you’d see on a bar cart in a Wyoming cabin/lodge deep in the Tetons. It’s woodsy, which is appealing and helps it stand out from the white and red labels on the rest of the Russell’s line.
The nose is super supple with a soft marzipan fondant that leads to mince meat pies with plenty of rum-raisin, brown sugar, and mild cinnamon/nutmeg/clove spice with a thin layer of powdered sugar frosting over the buttery crust. The nose also has a sense of brandy butter with a hint of salted caramel and vanilla taffy next to a faint whisper of apple fritters. The palate is lush and silky with rich buttery toffee rolled in roasted almonds and coconut and dipped in dark and creamy chocolate sauce with plenty of orange zest and flakes of salt. The mid-palate leans into cinnamon bark, allspice berries, and a freshly ground nutmeg next to tart apple pies loaded with pecans. The mid-palate stays silken as mild hints of soft cedar bark mingle with cardamon pods and more of the nutmeg (almost like eggnog) and maybe a hint of dried mint. The finish circles back around the brandy butter, rum-raisin, and powdered sugar frosting for a sweet and luxurious end.
This is dessert in a glass. When I tasted this, I was in a group and everyone felt a different nostalgic dessert when they sipped. The signature Wild Turkey spice on the mid-palate was drawn back a bit, but still just there. What’s wild is that this is a barrel-proof whiskey at 112.4 proof and it has zero burn or high-ABV warmth. It’s truly silky smooth and soft.
This was a stellar sipper neat. I added a little water (maybe three or four drops) and it really bloomed in the glass. The creaminess of the dark chocolate and toffee amped up and the orange zest got brighter. The whole thing became a cream and bright delight.
95/100 — This is a great whiskey. It’s unexpected (from Turkey) and truly unique. The only thing keeping this from a perfect score is that it was a little sweet and that can be off-putting for someone looking for a little more spice/sweet balance. I can put that aside and confidently say this is a solid A. It’s just freakin’ delicious.