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Russell's Reserve Rye


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I think part of this (and I haven't tried the new rye yet) might be precisely an attempt to appeal to the knowledgeable end of the bourbon market, i.e., the one that drinks the whiskey neat with discernment - not all of that market because some bourbon fans want high proof and strong flavors, but the part that wants an approachable product consumed neat or just with ice.

I think the current EC 12 is an example, it is very good indeed taken just as it is: douse it with ice and water or Coca-Cola and it would not be as good as many other bourbons so treated (e.g., Knob Creek) IMO.

Some producers, including HH, offer a choice, e.g., the recent Parker's, and other companies too, e.g., BT has its high-octane range but also ETL and Buffalo Trace.

Personally, while I admire the purity and flavor of the big bruisers, I find myself inclining towards bourbons such as current EC 12, Buffalo Trace, ETL, EWSB, RR 90 (the bourbon), and other mid-proofs which are approachable in taste and proof. I don't have to adjust it with water, which despite the theory of it never seems to produce the calibrated flavors of a ready-made at least not without some working at it.

This doesn't mean I will like the new rye, we'll see.

Gary

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I also have no problem with what WT is doing with RR. They're developing a line extension and chasing a different target audience for them. WT is satisfying its long term customers with WT 101 and its regular rye bottlings. They're working the top shelf with KS, RB and the occasional limited releases such as Tribute and the new WT American Spirit. And they're producing a "softer" product with the RR offerings.

If a newbie to bourbon were to ask for recommendations to get started down the path, I think the RR offerings make excellent choices with their lower proofs and softer flavors. Most members on this board aren't looking for that, but hey, we're not their targeted customer for RR. They offer us WT 101, KS and WT AS.

Randy

I just wish they could have left RR 101 alone and created a new 90 proof product. However, I have no issues with WT as their product line is quite extensive and has many other things that I enjoy, one new one being American Spirit!

I do enjoy the 90 proof though!

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All things considered and looking at the WT line as a whole, we probably should be grateful that they are selling an age-stated 10-year-old product for $25, even if it is only 90 proof, though the fact that it makes a lot of us wish for something a little older and a little higher proof for something less than $80 is also understandable.

I will say this, especially after a long visit there recently. I like the way WT and their parent company do things and I feel confident that we will continue to enjoy its products in the future.

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I had the chance to taste some RR Rye last night with Grain Brain. Both of us had the same reaction upon tasting it: iced tea. It doesn't taste a thing like iced tea, but stick with me. First, it is very easy drinking. In a sense this takes it out of the realm of WT's profile (maybe making it appropriate to leave the WT name off). Second, the mint Chuck mentioned is clearly there, and mint goes with iced tea in my world. Finally, the first sip took me to my in-laws back porch, under a live oak, killing time with a good book and enjoying a cool breeze.

As Ben and I discussed it, we concluded that "middle ground" is an accurate descriptor, but one with a negative connotation. This isn't middle of the road like the Eagles or Jackson Browne (nothing against either act...I like them both). It's Neil Young on Harvest: just something different from the foot-stomping and screaming guitars.

I expected to not like this whiskey, given earlier comments and my own love of WT Rye. But taken on its own merits, this is a lovely, well-spiced rye with a soft, sweet middle, some flinty edges, and a beautifully minty finish. I can see myself having a really lovely Saturday with half a bottle of this...or really getting into trouble.

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I have just sampled this and think it is an excellent whiskey. I think too, as others have speculated, WT is going for a subtler palate than usual here. The palate is soft and rich with rye, mint and old roses evident but well-integrated in the whole.

Also, I would say it is probably best consumed as a first or second drink due to its mildness.

Gary

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I had another pour this weekend. Very strong spearmint on the nose. I'm surprised how much this tastes like Sazerac. If given to me blind I would have guessed a BT product before WT. A nice drink early in the rotation.

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This isn't middle of the road like the Eagles or Jackson Browne (nothing against either act...I like them both). It's Neil Young on Harvest: just something different from the foot-stomping and screaming guitars.

So what rye (or bourbon) is an analogue for Neil Young on Living with War?

Craig

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I was thinking it is more like "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd. A least that how I felt after a evenings bonfire and the better part of a bottle of the rye. I picked up 2 bottles on sale for $14.99. Funny thing I'm known as WildTurkey on most every web place. It was what I was drinking many years ago when I needed a screen name. WT Rare breed.

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CrispyCritter
I had another pour this weekend. Very strong spearmint on the nose. I'm surprised how much this tastes like Sazerac. If given to me blind I would have guessed a BT product before WT. A nice drink early in the rotation.

I have yet to try it (but I've seen it on the shelf recently) - but at its general price point, I can't help but wonder if they're aiming at Baby Saz with this one, but the Saz is a few dollars less here.

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So what rye (or bourbon) is an analogue for Neil Young on Living with War?

Craig

This was a brainteaser I thought about all night. That record starts with some promising stuff, explodes in the middle, but ends abruptly and less effectively than it means to. WLW '05?

BTW, I vatted equal parts WT Rye and RR Rye tonight. Wouldn't you know, it packs much more of a wallop that way, but the sweeter, rounded elements of the 6yo provide balance. In other words, it's great: a rich pour, and one I'll revisit.

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I have just sampled this and think it is an excellent whiskey. I think too, as others have speculated, WT is going for a subtler palate than usual here. The palate is soft and rich with rye, mint and old roses evident but well-integrated in the whole.

Also, I would say it is probably best consumed as a first or second drink due to its mildness.

I haven't had many WT products yet (NAS & RB only) but I think I fell off my chair when I heard you decribe this WT product as "mild"...

Not the first thing I think of when I think "Wild Turkey".

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It really is different from the take-no-prisoners 101 style that is the classic WT approach. Only one part of it is the drop to 90 proof, the flavor also is milder than usually we get with WT products. RR 90 (the bourbon) heralded the change and those who like it will I think like the RR 90 rye too. The 101 rye at 4 years is still available for those who like a more assertive palate and I can only hope its quality will be kept as good as in the last 4-5 years, i.e., that the best barrels are not being reserved for the new brand. So far it's all good.

Gary

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This was a brainteaser I thought about all night. That record starts with some promising stuff, explodes in the middle, but ends abruptly and less effectively than it means to. WLW '05?

Didn't mean to keep you awake. But I generally agree with your analysis. The ending is a little flat. For each.

Craig

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Brad, I think your answer as to what the younger set thinks, lies in the "What planet do we live on?" thread. I don't think the name "Wild Turkey" fits with the image they're looking for. And, that demographic cares alot about image.

JOE

The image has been associated with Trailers, pick-ups and wife beater t-shirts. At least in E. Tn where I grew up. I am not saying that is what it should be. I have enough 20 something friends to know that that image has not changed much in the last 20 years.

It is funny but the GUYS I know that start moving to whiskey do so in their late 20s to 30s. The frat boys do it in the early to mid 20s but only when they are at football games or duck hunting.....:cool:

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The image has been associated with Trailers, pick-ups and wife beater t-shirts. At least in E. Tn where I grew up. I am not saying that is what it should be. I have enough 20 something friends to know that that image has not changed much in the last 20 years.

It is funny but the GUYS I know that start moving to whiskey do so in their late 20s to 30s. The frat boys do it in the early to mid 20s but only when they are at football games or duck hunting.....:cool:

Wow, this fits me perfectly. Every image I have of WT is either of what you describe, or the homeless. I'm not really sure what cemented this in my mind, but it is there. After reading a lot of posts here, and coming to the realization that I know absolutely nothing about bourbon, I am trying to change that.

I also have to agree with your second point, speaking as a 34 year old who just purchased his first bottle of bourbon to drink, and not to mix with Coke.

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I was checking the Michigan Liquor Control Commission online price list and see that the Russell Reserve Rye has hit Michigan for $24.95 minimum price.

Strangely, the listing has "PL" at the end, which means it is in a plastic bottle. I hope this is a typo! Although, as a collector of pre-1950 glass decanters, I have several rye decanters that would work fine.

I'll be picking up a bottle soon. As a rye lover, I am looking forward to trying it.

Jeff

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I was checking the Michigan Liquor Control Commission online price list and see that the Russell Reserve Rye has hit Michigan for $24.95 minimum price.

Well, I struck out today at my local liquor shop. While it's in the online price list, they can only order from the paper list, which next comes out next week. So maybe then.

Meanwhile, I'm contenting myself comparing the two Willett's HH 126 proof 4 yo, while watching Ohio State lose to LSU. (The only time this Wolverine will root for OSU!)

Jeff

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I like this rye!!!

The entry is so sweeeeeeeeeet, the transition to rye grassiness smooth and the finish dances on the tongue.

How'd they do this?

Not Turkey-like, IMHO.

BTW: They've really gone to an extreme in making sure that it doesn't say WT anywhere on the bottle, even in the little neck tag and story on the back.

On the other hand, they give Eddie Russell quite a bit of recognition. Is this the groundwork for the transition that will allow Russell's Reserve to continue after Jimmie "retires"?

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It's a fine product, it's almost like when Macallan introduced its Fine Oak series (not all aged in ex-sherry casks even though that was Macallan's signature). I like when companies take chances and try to do something different. I wish Beam Global would do similar, the Knob Creek and other small batchers should be expanded in similarly innovative ways, starting with a bonded Old Overholt.

Gary

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Old Lamplighter

Picked up some of this a couple of days ago. Everything said thus far to the positive aspects of this rye are true. It is my first experience with rye that is less than 9-10 yrs old. Being inexperienced, I am both very impressed - but, at the same time easily impressed at this point in time. I suppose the next step will be to get some Saz Jr and maybe a couple of others and do some further tasting/comparisons. However, at the current juncture, RRR has really impressed me. It is lively & spicy but at the same time has a smoothness that speaks of older rye than 6 years.

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I don't think the name "Wild Turkey" fits with the image they're looking for. And, that demographic cares alot about image.

JOE

No less an inventor/eccentric/framer/admirer of women and libation than Benjamin Frankin wanted the national bird to be the wild turkey.

Next time you sit down for a word with the Bird - or a cousin, like RRR - try to forget about sneaking thimblefulls before the big dance, and ruminate on...Ben Franklin.

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No less an inventor/eccentric/framer/admirer of women and libation than Benjamin Frankin wanted the national bird to be the wild turkey.

Next time you sit down for a word with the Bird - or a cousin, like RRR - try to forget about sneaking thimblefulls before the big dance, and ruminate on...Ben Franklin.

Took your advise and ruminated on Ben Franklin. I mean, ruminated hard. Certainly, one of the great men of our history. Geeze, anybody who can sit on his porch naked in the dead of a New England winter has got to be admired! :D But, as hard as I ruminated, I am still not crazy about this whiskey. I don't dislike it, mind you, just not what I am looking for. And, speculating that WT may be marketing this product to a younger demographic, I would still agree that a name change might be appropriate.

Cheers!

JOE

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I tried the new RRR last month. It has a definite resemblance to the RR 90 Bourbon. If you like one you will probably like the other. The WT Rye 101 is better over ice, as there is less flavor loss due to dilution.

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