There’s a dearth of good, affordable rye whiskey on the market. While I swear by Old Overholt, I welcome competition in the form of Russell’s Reserve (from the same folks that make Wild Turkey), a rye that, at $25, isn’t as cheap as Overholt but isn’t in the stratosphere like some high-end bottlings.
Russell’s is a classic rye, aged six years. It’s very spicy and perfect for straight drinking or mixing into a Sazerac or Rye Manhattan. Aside from a strong sense of that peppery cinnamon heat and a kick of almond and vanilla-laced oak, you won’t find much more to get in the way of the flavor. I’d even go so far as to characterize this is a perfect “beginner’s rye,” though I’m finding it quite pleasant as an old school rye man, myself.
At 90 proof, it’s slightly more alcoholic than Overholt (and you’ll notice it unless you cut it with water). Otherwise, a perfectly capable, classic bottle of rye. (It doesn’t appear to be on the market anywhere yet; below you’ll find a photo of the tiny sampler bottle. I’m not entirely sure how the final product will look!) Updated with final product photo; Russell’s says it is now on store shelves, so watch for it.