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View Full Version : Jimmy Russel Interview complete with a sb.com shoutout



BradleyC
01-14-2013, 16:26
Here is an interview with Jimmy Russel that I just found. At the 18:35 mark he mentions SB.com. I liked when the lady asked Jimmy what his mashbill percentages were. He said "What?".........."What?" and then moved on. Classic.


http://www.drinkspirits.com/interview/interview-jimmy-russell-master-distiller-wild-turkey/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DrinkSpirits+%28Drink+Spirits %29

Gillman
01-14-2013, 17:38
Good interview, he's as sharp as a tack but with a full-on down-home style. I like the combination.

Despite all the heritage and continuity of tradition evoked in the interview (the genuineness of which I have no doubt), I must say I find WT bourbon generally uninspiring. Rare Breed is the best IMO of the widely available brands (a mingling), but 101 just doesn't seem what it was despite the statements that nothing has changed except the scale of production. The new 81 was pretty ordinary, IMO again. I have had Tradition and that range, but don't really find them better.

Not sure what explains it.

Gary

squire
01-14-2013, 18:00
Sign of the times Gary. Streamlined modern production techniques, higher proof off the still and into the barrel, charring the barrel in such a way as to speed up extraction of wood sugars and color, younger whisky in the bottle, just the way things are now.

unclebunk
01-14-2013, 18:07
Thanks for posting the link, Bradley. Very interesting!

Gillman
01-14-2013, 18:30
I agree generally Squire but he did say that they distill out and enter at low proofs, I think 115 and 110 respectively but the interviewers talked over him at that point and I couldn't get the final numbers. So that part hasn't changed, but clearly the picture is different today than in years past, or at least that is the view of many here I believe.

Gary

Tony
01-14-2013, 18:57
Thanks for sharing, that was fun to watch.

Best regards, Tony

squire
01-14-2013, 19:26
Quite so Gary, they are low by Beam standards, but higher than the 110 off the still 107 into the barrel WT used just a few years ago. We can still find 108 barrel proof Rare Breed on retail shelves today.

T Comp
01-14-2013, 19:35
Quite so Gary, they are low by Beam standards, but higher than the 110 off the still 107 into the barrel WT used just a few years ago. We can still find 108 barrel proof Rare Breed on retail shelves today.

Per Chuck, 130 off the still and 115 into the barrel with the into being increased from 110 about 6 years ago.

OutlawSW
01-14-2013, 20:00
Great post, thanks for the heads up, I enjoyed watching that!

squire
01-14-2013, 20:28
Yes Thad, that's the most recent change, the figures were lower before then but I lack the energy to look up the timelines.

HighHorse
01-14-2013, 20:40
Good session with the Master! Jimmy Russel is a rare breed himself and he seems to genuinely enjoy sitting with bourbon enthusiasts and talking about his craft. I find it hard to say that WT is uninspiring though .. although I can understand how one might think that. I think that the WT products deliver a good, solid bourbon experience and I'm most impressed how they take a high rye formula and bring it in with a solid sweetness that is typically very easy to drink. The 81 is so much different from all of the others that it almost comes across as a wheated taste to me. The 101 rye was way better than the watered down version so I would definately agree that coming along with a watered down version of the 101 was an uninspiring move on their part. I think that had to be simply a matter of economics and I doubt Jimmy enjoyed having to stretch that juice out to satisfy corporate interests.

shoshani
01-14-2013, 21:45
Here is an interview with Jimmy Russel that I just found. At the 18:35 mark he mentions SB.com. I liked when the lady asked Jimmy what his mashbill percentages were. He said "What?".........."What?" and then moved on. Classic.

Heh. He knows it's a question he doesn't have to answer; most of the whiskey enthusiast world knows the mashbill is 75 corn/13 rye/12 barley malt.

But what struck me so far (about a third of the way into it) is the reason Jimmy gives for the 101 rye not being available: not enough rye stock at the age he prefers to bottle the 101, 6 to 7 years of age.

BradleyC
01-14-2013, 22:39
Heh. He knows it's a question he doesn't have to answer; most of the whiskey enthusiast world knows the mashbill is 75 corn/13 rye/12 barley malt.

But what struck me so far (about a third of the way into it) is the reason Jimmy gives for the 101 rye not being available: not enough rye stock at the age he prefers to bottle the 101, 6 to 7 years of age.

What stuck with me was when he was talking about all bourbon being 100 proof or bonded when he started there (mid 50's). He then went on to say you would never hear someone ask for Wild Turkey in a bar during that timeframe. They would ask for 101. That made me think about the fact that 101 is what the brand has always been built on and it means something. I'm still shocked that the 101 Rye has been downgraded but am hopeful that because of this it will someday return.

This all made me think of an older gentleman that I found a number of years ago while dusty hunting. He is in his upper 80s and owns a time machine of a store. I have gotten some superb duties from this guy over the years and became friends along the way. I still stop in to chat from time to time even though he doesn't have much left for me to buy. He always referred to anything bonded as "the good stuff" and charged me a little more for it. These were all BIB strips that had the years on them and a handful were older than me. I have always had an appreciation for bonded whiskeys because of this guy. He's old enough to know why bonded used to be so important. Jimmy's comments echoed this for me.

qman22
01-15-2013, 08:24
I agree generally Squire but he did say that they distill out and enter at low proofs, I think 115 and 110 respectively but the interviewers talked over him at that point and I couldn't get the final numbers. So that part hasn't changed, but clearly the picture is different today than in years past, or at least that is the view of many here I believe.

Gary

This was a cool interview. I had to listen to this part a couple of times to figure out what he was saying. Jimmy said that it comes off of the still at 115, then said it comes of the still (doubler?) at 125. Then he said barrel entry proof was around 110

ratcheer
01-15-2013, 08:38
Just generally, I am sad at the long path WT has taken from my first taste of the 8-YO in the late 60's to today's product. In the mid-90's, the 101 proof 10-YO Russell's Reserve was awesome. But today's WT 101 barely qualifies for its mid-shelf pricing, IMHO. I still buy it occasionally, but I'm always disappointed.

Tim

Gillman
01-15-2013, 09:02
This was a cool interview. I had to listen to this part a couple of times to figure out what he was saying. Jimmy said that it comes off of the still at 115, then said it comes of the still (doubler?) at 125. Then he said barrel entry proof was around 110

Interesting... sounds a bit different than what Thad quoted Chuck as last saying. But I think this is part of the story anyway, since we know some bourbon distilled out and entered relatively high can taste good. Know what I'd have asked him (which no interviewer of such a figure ever has to my knowledge)? "Do you think the barrel wood is different today since the tree stock is younger than in the 50's? And if so can that impact the palate of bourbon"?

Gary

shoshani
01-15-2013, 12:29
Interesting... sounds a bit different than what Thad quoted Chuck as last saying. But I think this is part of the story anyway, since we know some bourbon distilled out and entered relatively high can taste good. Know what I'd have asked him (which no interviewer of such a figure ever has to my knowledge)? "Do you think the barrel wood is different today since the tree stock is younger than in the 50's? And if so can that impact the palate of bourbon"?

THAT is a heck of a question. I wonder if you can ask them on the Wild Turkey Facebook page? (Or on the Jimmy and Eddie Russell Twitter account, @WTBourbonMaster?) It does make sense that the law requiring new barrels would sooner or later result in barrels that were not old-growth wood, the way barrels of yesterdecade were.

The barrel entry proof used to be 105 to 107. They had to raise it slightly because they had barrels where the alcohol proof actually decreased, and they weren't getting even 101 out of a barrel.

Gillman
01-15-2013, 13:27
Thanks and interesting about their twitter account. I don't use twitter, but would someone ask them vis this route?

Gary

squire
01-15-2013, 14:14
Some barrels on the cooler, lower floor of a warehouse may loose a bit but barrels higher up generally gain in alcohol level during the warm Kentucky summer, which is why we have such high proof expressions like George T. Stagg which entered the barrel at 125 proof and came out at 130 to 140 proof.

I understand Wild Turkey originally raised the barrel entry proof to 103 so they could make the 101 bottle proof mark, then raised it to 107 (the current Rare Breed of 108 barrel proof) and now it is 110. Still low by industry standards of 125 but the point here we are comparing the current WT 101 to what it was formerly.

Lazer
01-15-2013, 19:14
is it just me or does it seem like people talk more about the current 101 compared to the old 101 more than anything else like the current Jim beam white vs. the old or the current JD vs. the old? why is modern 101 hammered on so much? My guess is that its former glory days were more recent than others and, its still good enough to care about.

squire
01-15-2013, 20:46
Oh, start a tread about the other brands Lazer, I'll jump in.

The Boozer
01-17-2013, 08:06
Just generally, I am sad at the long path WT has taken from my first taste of the 8-YO in the late 60's to today's product. In the mid-90's, the 101 proof 10-YO Russell's Reserve was awesome. But today's WT 101 barely qualifies for its mid-shelf pricing, IMHO. I still buy it occasionally, but I'm always disappointed.

Tim

Sums up my impressions, although I have had only limited experience with the 101 proof RR. Today, I don't buy any of the new label WT101 as it is not the same quality of bourbon from even 5-6 years ago.

Gillman
01-17-2013, 09:06
And I think this brings up a point on the significance of adherence to traditional practices. I think clearly it is just a part of the picture, other factors include aging of the product (is the average age lower for the current line than 20 and 30 years ago?), possibly barrel wood being younger than a generation and more ago (this would apply to all distilleries), greater use (I would think) of metal vessels in the distillery, and so forth. I have heard that Maker's Mark enters at a notably low proof yet the bourbon as released today doesn't seem to show extra flavor as a result of that, as compared I mean to other brands roughly the same age. Dickel, which uses no computerized controls according to another thread on SB, is a decent but not superlative whiskey IMO. So I take it all with a grain of salt and taste testing in the end is the only sure way for anyone to decide what they will like. In WT, I still like Rare Breed - the proof is good and the mingling is effective. It may not be as good as years back, but it is still excellent. However, 101 seems (I agree with Tim) quite middling these days. And the new 81 when I last tried it seemed quite young and thorny, disappointing.

Gary

p_elliott
01-17-2013, 10:02
I wonder how may people on here that say they don't like the current WT 101 were drinking something else before? Some bourbons are good leaders and some are good followers and some it don't matter. A good leader taste good if it's your first pour of the night but doesn't taste so good if you have been drinking something else. WT 101 IMO fits that profile. The followers don't taste so could as a first pour of the night but if you have been drinking something else they taste pretty good. Some go either way.

Gillman
01-17-2013, 13:27
That's interesting Paul. Never thought of it that way. But as to the 81, I think the first pour would never work for me, or the second or last!

Gary

ebo
01-17-2013, 17:58
I finally got around to watching that. Well worth the time!

Did I hear him say the next barrel proof (Rare Breed) will be around 111 proof? Anyone know when this might be out?

PaulO
01-17-2013, 18:27
I noticed that maybe two or so years before the recent label change, WT101 did not taste as good as before. I would say it tasted more strongly of alcohol, and less of the tastes I like. A local drug store would have good sales from time to time. I've moved on to other things. The last Rare Breed I had was good, but near $40, it has some real stiff competition.