No bourbon collection is complete without a private barrel selection or two (or seven…). Although every distillery’s private barrel program is different, most follow a fairly similar process:
- A small group of individuals from a liquor store, restaurant, bourbon society, etc. take a trip to the distillery of choice.
- The distillery team rolls out a few barrels of the product to be sampled.
- The group tastes samples from each barrel and decides which barrel(s) they like the like the most.
- The distillery bottles all of the whiskey in the chosen barrel(s), and the group making the pick buys all of those bottles.
Private barrel picks are a great way to enjoy single barrel products, as the group making the selection has the opportunity to find a barrel with a flavor and aroma profile that matches their preferences, whether that’s a barrel that’s a little sweeter, a little spicier, or the one with a touch of marzipan. At Wild Turkey, the private barrel selection program currently offers two options – Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, and Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel.
This particular Russell’s Single Barrel is a Rural Inn store pick. If you scroll through my post archive here, you’ll quickly realize that I’m a pretty big fan of Rural Inn and the private picks they have. If you’re in the Indianapolis area, Rural Inn should definitely be at the top of your list of bourbon hunting destinations. The store typically has 20 or so different store picks on the shelf at any given time and you’ll often find 2-3 different barrels of the same product side by side. There’s no better way to appreciate the uniqueness of single barrel bourbon than by tasting three different Elijah Craig barrels and experiencing three different flavor profiles.
The bottle I picked up, Rural Inn No. 3 (of 4 I believe), came from barrel number 16-457 on the 4th floor of Warehouse M. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel store picks are some of the best private picks you’ll find for the money, and Rural Inn No. 3 did not disappoint.
- ABV: 55%, 110 Proof
- Age: NAS, 8-9 years estimated
- Company/Distillery: Campari, Wild Turkey
- Mash Bill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 10% malted barley
- Price: $55 / 750 mL (Store Pick)
Appearance: Russet, Tawny
Nose: Lots of Caramel and Vanilla sweetness, a bit of Rye and Cinnamon spiciness, hints of Orange citrus
Taste: Caramel sweetness up front balanced out by a good amount of Black Pepper and Clove spice, Oak on the back end
Finish: Long and sweet with plenty of Black Pepper and a long, drying oak presence towards the end
Overall: Classic big and bold Wild Turkey profile, yet a little smoother than one might expect from a 110 proof pour. Plenty of sweetness, balanced out rather nicely by the signature Wild Turkey spiciness. Like most Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel picks I’ve tried, this one is approachable enough to enjoy neat, but at 110 proof the bold flavor can certainly hold up with a splash of water or a chunk of ice. This is the first Russell’s pick I’ve tried from Rural Inn, if the other three are anywhere close to as impressive as this one, I may have to build a new shelf to make room for a whole collection of Russell’s Reserve. What a bummer, right?