In 2021, Wild Turkey dropped an amazing 13 year old limited edition expression of Russell’s Reserve at cask strength. Now this unique expression is returning — at the exact same abv, oddly — again for a limited time. There’s really nothing new to report when it comes to barrel picking and production; if you want more of the backstory, click the link above to check out our coverage from two years ago.
That said: You are getting a clearly different whiskey this year. For the details, let’s dive in to our tasting notes:
The 2023 version of Russell’s Reserve 13 Year Old Bourbon hits the ground running with a classic mature bourbon construction, the nose revealing notes of peanut shells and cinnamon red hots, then a punch of butterscotch. More peppery than the 2021 installment, the aromatics create an expectation of a fairly aggressive drinking experience.
Not so, it turns out: The palate is sweet and quite restrained, and while there’s ample heat from the ethanol to create some back-of-the-throat burn, there’s plenty of room for the whiskey’s more effusive characteristics to emerge. A few drops of water work wonders, helping that overt cinnamon segue toward more of an allspice character, mixed well with notes of peanut brittle, milk chocolate, and vanilla Coke. Again there’s plenty of cinnamon dragging into the finish, making a clear through-line from start to finish. Eventually, the denouement reveals some lingering barrel char elements, which don’t at all detract.
While rather less complex than its last installment, Russell’s Reserve 13 Years Old remains a top shelf experience that, more than anything, shows off the impressive barrel selection skills that have been mastered by the crew at Wild Turkey. Sadly, the asking price on the street has jumped considerably, making the value proposition considerably less clear…
A- / $400