Last year Wild Turkey’s Russell’s Reserve launched a curious special edition — a bourbon produced from a single rickhouse in its Camp Nelson campus. This year, the brand is back at it, drawing this 10 year old bourbon from building F instead of C, a structure which:
…sits lower than its peers on the Camp Nelson grounds overlooking the Kentucky River. The airflow and wind currents coming off the river benefit the barrels aging inside, which are known to ‘breathe’ more than most. For this reason, the rickhouse has long been a favorite in the distillery’s private barrel selection program. For Single Rickhouse Camp Nelson F, Eddie selected barrels from the rickhouse’s center cut – floors four and five – of the seven-story building, yielding a well-balanced yet complex bourbon with a robust, oaky flavor profile. The resulting bottling is a testament to Eddie’s four decades of mastery of craft bourbon and an appreciation for the distinctive nuances that each Single Rickhouse brings to the whiskey aging inside.
“We knew we had big shoes to fill with our second Single Rickhouse release after our first bottling from Camp Nelson C,” said Eddie Russell. “I didn’t expect we’d release two Camp Nelson whiskeys back-to-back, but after just one sip from those Camp Nelson F barrels, I knew we had to bring this whiskey to our fans – it’s too special not to share. I like to think that Camp Nelson C mirrored my personal flavor preferences – more dessert-like with sweet notes of caramel, crème brûlée and toffee – and with Camp Nelson F, we’ve gone the opposite direction – big, bold, spicy and oaky, it takes on a different persona entirely. We’re really excited about this one, and hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do.”
Opposite direction might be an understatement, if that’s possible. While I found Camp Nelson C to be peppery up front and backed by the sweetness that Russell mentions above, here the script is reversed. An aggressively sweet attack paves the way with immediate aromas of cinnamon and butterscotch candies, with an underbelly of crushed tea leaves to follow. Barrel char is well represented but not overwhelming; it’s nothing I would immediately describe as “oaky.”
The palate bursts with vanilla and cinnamon before sliding into a bold, creamy peanut butter character. Chewy and still quite sweet, some time in glass allows the woodier elements to come into focus, though they feel plenty well integrated into the overall program. There’s ample alcohol present, but I never felt the need to reach for water. Chocolate, cloves, and a hint of licorice make the finish feel somewhat more grounded, with a pinch of pepper to close things out.
It’s not the unicorn that last year’s Camp Nelson C was, but Camp Nelson F remains a top-shelf offering that I didn’t want to put down. That said, at an asking price of $300 (and surely much more on the secondary market), arguments over whether this 10 year old whiskey is a sign that we’re indeed at peak bourbon aren’t out of place.
A- / $300