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The Russell Legacy in a Barrel

Back in late August, with the heat of the Kentucky summer in full swing, Eddy Russell, his dad Jimmy, and I dug through about ten barrels to reach this cask, #998, located in the heart of the H warehouse at Wild Turkey Distillery. When it comes to the Kickin' Chicken, I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel with our barrel selections. I'm not searching for the anomaly or the unique gem that stands in contrast to what made Russell's Reserve famous. I wanted classic, true to form Bourbon that tastes like vintage Wild Turkey and that's exactly what I got from this 9 year old single cask. Everything in harmony, just dialed up in proof. Vanilla, oak, creamy corn, and that youthful vigor that pops on your palate like a bag full of cinnamon candy. Jimmy Russell doesn't like any Bourbon older than 10 years old, which I think is awesome. I'm trying to be more like him (living large after six decades in the booze biz), so with this cask I relied completely on his guidance.

Eddy did most of the heavy lifting. I snapped photos and drank. While I've got a few barrels coming down the pipe, I wanted to start with #998 because it was one of my absolute favorites. If you've ever dipped your nose into a box of cinnamon red hots and inhaled all that sweetly-spiced goodness, then consider yourself well prepared for this one. Originally filled in October of 2008, we bottled this baby right after its 9th birthday, right about the time Jimmy Russell believes these Wild Turkey whiskies show their best. Emptied at 118.4 proof, everything about this whiskey showcases the textbook and trademark characteristics of the distillery style: loads of baking spices, vibrant oak tannins, creamy corn, and a finish of both savory pepper and sweet vanilla. Getting to select a barrel like this with the father and son duo is about as fun as our job gets-if you don't count the part where we actually get to drink it. Only 120 bottles from this tiny, concentrated cask.

Russell's Reserve K&L Single Barrel #998 Kentucky Bourbon $59.99

-David Driscoll