View Full Version : "Where's The Sizzle"
Hello. After reading several post on Wild Turkey's Russel Reserve I decided to go out and see if I could find any. After a few phone calls I was able to locate some $25.99 for a 750ml bottle. Fine no problem I Went to the store and bought the bottle. Here is what my feeling are. This in my opinion lacks any defining packaging. Oh it's a real good Bourbon. Nice amber color. Pleasant Oak & Spice nose. Taste. Oak and some Spice. No harsh bite. not as sweet as I would normally like. It did have a nice lingering warm finsih. Overall a very good drink. I just felt that the folks at Wild Turkey need to address the packaging. Here's anexample. Take Blantons Single Barrel. at $49 a bottle it's overpriced in my opinion. I bought my bottle on sale for $39.95 But the packaging now that is something else. Nice box with the horse head sticking out. The Brown Bag and the nicely cut round bottle this product gave you the feeling that it was truly something special. Even if it's no better than Russels Reserve you still ott the feeling thats it's special becasue of the way they sell the SIZZLE. The products comes across as a first rate drink. Now Russels Reserve in my opinion needs to do a better job of making one of there so called better Bourbons look like a better Bourbon. Just my opinion. Another example. One of my favorite Bourbons is 1990 Evan Williams Single Barrel. for $20 a great value. I would howeverr spend a few more dollars and dress up the packaging and I believe it could easily sell for $25-$30 a bottle. Sometimes the Sizzle is as much or more important than the end product. Just my opinion. What do you think. Thanks Creggor
Well, you should certainly hear some interesting comments on THIS one!
I, too, enjoy the packaging, although I think to a somewhat less degree than you seem to. And your points about pricing are also valid in their way, although I'm happy to see that companies like Pernod-Ricard (Wild Turkey), Sazerac (Buffalo Trace), and Heaven Hill (Elijah Craig) disagree with you.
But what I don't understand is, what is it you find lacking in the Russell Reserve packaging? Are they marketing different bottles in Florida than in Kentucky? The one I'm looking at is a fine, cork-finished bottle whose shape echos the other Wild Turkey bottles. Unlike the others, it doesn't have a paper label; but it also doesn't have one of those clear plastic jobs, either. The product name, in beautiful script, is solidly screenprinted over a delicate rendition of an etched wild turkey that almost looks like it had appeared in the frost on a cold bottle. It captures the mood of the whiskey every bit as well as the statement Blanton's makes. Five years ago, this bottle would probably have been labelled to look like it'd been printed on grocery bag paper with a rubber stamp and hand-signed by the distiller, writing with an accent of course ("Ah made this hyar whiskee same as my pappy done, just for y'all"). Today's packaging (which is similar to what Buffalo Trace uses) is much "cleaner" and more elegant. Speaking with Jimmy Russell, I got the impression that this bourbon (which also serves as the introduction of his son, Eddie, as the upcoming new master distiller) is intended to be the simple and honest offering of a fine whiskey to an appreciative clientelle. It's probably about as opposite of Blanton's as you could get, and I think the packaging also reflects that.
While I would be the last one to encourage a whiskey-maker to invest more in packaging to increase a product's price, I think I understand why Russell's Reserve left you a little cold. While it wouldn't necessarily have to be as elaborate as Blanton's, I think they could have done a much better job for this new product's introduction of telling its "story" in a more compelling way. That is what I think is lacking.
--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)
I certainly agree with that. I couldn't believe that in the month this product was released (last September) two of the most influential industry magazines, "Malt Advocate" and "Whisky Magazine" had articles about Ezra B and the Sazerac Trio (none of which were publicly available yet) but nothing about Russell's Reserve. Talk about sneaking a new product into the marketplace!
But what really took the cake, in fact I had to laugh out loud, was that Wild Turkey had a full-page outer cover ad in "Whisky Magazine"promoting regular WT 101. And the headline text of the ad -- I swear I'm not making this up -- was, "Not the Latest Thing. The Genuine Thing". Someone should have taken that nice bottle of Russell's Reserve and cold conked the marketing genius responsible for that piece of ill-timing!
Hello, Again Don't get me wrong I like the Russells Reserve as a Bourbon. I just felt for a new product that is trying to come into a market with lots of choices there packaging did not stand out. It just kinda looked like the others on the shelf. I know if I worked for a Bourbon Distillery or worked in sales for a distributor, I would like to have point of sales material on display for the general public to see; If I had a new product that was supposed to be somethng special I would want my end users to know that's its special. How many times have you gone into a local package or liquor store and see any kind of articles or signs touting an award that a product just won, Russells Reserve needs to jump out and grab you and say hey try me.. In my opinion it just looked like all the others.products. In fact if I had not seen and heard about the product on this forum I may have not even noticed. What do they say with Real Estate location, location, location. Just my opinion from years of sales. Creggor
Creggor you've missed the point. Russell's Reserve is a special bottling of ten year old Wild Turkey to honor Master Distiller Jimmy Russell. It's not a new product at all. Only five thousand cases will be produced. They'll sell every bottle without any fanfare at all.
Now as to your point that WT or any distiller should use fancy packaging in order to charge higher prices - ARE YOU #^**!!@#%^+! CRAZY!!! We *DO NOT* encourage higher prices here in Bourbonia. It just isn't done!
Have Shotglass. Will Travel.
Being a "marketing" guy, I really expected some more vociferous comments regarding packaging. To a purist, it is what's inside that is more important. However, many great cult bourbons never reached the masses because they were not initially attracted to the package. In the long run, good packaging does not drive the bottle cost up more than a couple of bucks, at most. Poor packaging can kill a brand quicker than anything. I must admit that I like Jimmy's new product and I think the bottle looks nice. Award winning, probably not, but nice.
Hello, Linn. Sorry I had no idea that the Russels Reserve was a one time offering I truly thought it was a all together product and just felt it did not really stand out and grab me. I have a limited budget and do not want to spend more for Bourbon wither. I just mentioned that the Blanton's Single Barrel sold for quite a bit more than 1990 Evan Williams Single Barrel and Blanton's are able to sell what they need of the product it might have something to do with the packaging. I believe good marketing companys do realize they can get a little premium for there product with a lottle SIZZLE added to the point of sale.Me I'am glad to have $40 left over from my pay check today to use for the last 2 bottles of 90 Evan Williams Single Barrel I know of in town.Creggor
Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage was voted whiskey of the year 2001 by the Malt Advocate Magazine.
Hey Betty Jo,
It's a late night and I'm still up. Glad to see you here. I know you live around me somewhere.
You said Malt Advocate called Evan Williams Single Barrel whiskey of the year.
I would love to hear what you think of Evan Williams 7 year old black label. This is what I stock the cabinet with and offer to company. In my opinion, it's a decent Bourbon and worth the money. What do you think?
Blowin' smoke in Bardstown
Thanks...I *oh so* agree. Packaging is cool. I've spent years telling folks how to make something sell but, being an old, burnt marketing person myself...I want to taste what's in the bottle. I wouldn't really care if it was resting in a (washed-out) pickle jar, as long as I enjoyed the finish. If I pay major bucks for something, it's gonna be *major* special. The bottle it's in is a very small part of the picture.
Blowin' smoke in Bardstown
I found your post and accompanying threads interesting. Of particular note I think, is that Evan Williams DID follow your advise! They released a millineum bottling of their splendid '90 in a ceramic globe decanter and knocked the price up about $10. Be careful what you wish for...
John A. Dube
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