Review: Russell’s Reserve Bourbon 13 Years Old (2021)

Review: Russell’s Reserve Bourbon 13 Years Old (2021)

Wild Turkey’s Russell’s Reserve brand tends to fly under the radar a bit, but ignoring this latest release would be a mistake. It might be the best bottling ever to come out under the label. You’re getting a 13 year old cask-strength bourbon, available for a limited time. Here’s a bit of the story behind it.

Straight up and straight out of the Commonwealth of Kentucky comes one of the boldest, yet smooth, limited-edition bourbons ever. Honoring the family ties that bind, Eddie Russell is introducing Russell’s Reserve 13 Year Old, a 114.8-proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon that, once again, exemplifies the Russell family’s mastery of bourbon-making. In the ultimate distilling challenge, Eddie aged this one-of-a-kind release for at least 13 years, maintained the barrel proof and opted not to chill filter the whiskey, creating a more robust mouthfeel and authentic bourbon experience.

“Crafting Russell’s Reserve 13 Year Old turned out to be one of my most rewarding experiences as a distiller,“ said Eddie Russell, who celebrates an astounding 40 years of bourbon making at the Wild Turkey Distillery this year. “This release embodies our commitment to creating uniquely satisfying flavors, and, hands down, it’s one of our most rare bourbons.”

The whiskey starts off strong, a delightful nose showcasing chocolate and some mint, plus a surfeit of baking spices and orange peel. Seductive and a bit Christmassy, it smells heavenly even here in the middle of summer. The palate holds its cards a bit tightly at first, leaning on graphite and toasty barrel char, but it eventually gives way and shows its hand. A moment of patience reveals toasted coconut and a light lacing of chocolate, then layers of spice and more of that orange peel. It’s a little racy at full proof but never unmanageable — and I would never have pegged this at coming in over 57% abv — taking you down an immersive and increasingly complex rabbit hole the more you sip on it. The finish offers endless waves of caramel, complementing the palate and soothing any rough edges you might have encountered along the way. MSRP is $70, but even at current markups, it’s a definite buy.

114.8 proof.

A / $100 

Russell’s Reserve Bourbon 13 Years Old (2021)




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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