Russell’s Reserve is a brand meant to celebrate two of the most famed master distillers, father and son duo Jimmy and Eddie Russell. Now, we’ll get to that more in a bit, but we wanted to take a look at a rye whiskey that is made by leaders in the bourbon world.
Our review on Russell’s Reserve Rye intends to answer some of your most pressing questions. Is Russell’s Reserve Rye good? Is it worth buying? How much does it cost? And more. If you’re interested in learning more about this whiskey, just keep on reading.
Russell’s Reserve History
The history of Russell’s Reserve is directly tied to the master distillers of Wild Turkey. Jimmy Russell took over as master distiller of WT in 1954, and his son, Eddie, joined the business in 1981. This father-son duo has more experience than any other pair of master distillers, and both are recognized in the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.
In 1998, Eddie launched a small-batch bourbon to celebrate his father’s 45 years at Wild Turkey. He called this whiskey Russell’s Reserve. Over the years, they began launching different selections under the Russell’s Reserve name – one of which is Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Rye in 2007.
While this whiskey is produced at the Wild Turkey Distillery, they are under the umbrella of the Campari Group who owns both Russell’s Reserve and Wild Turkey. The Campari Group also owns many other popular brands such as SKYY Vodka and Espolon Tequila.
Russell’s Reserve Rye Overview
- Whiskey: Kentucky Straight Rye
- Distilled By: Wild Turkey (Jimmy and Eddie Russell)
- ABV: 45%, 90 Proof
- Aged: 6 years
- Mashbill: Unknown (Although some sources say 51% rye, 37% corn, 12 % malted barley)
Russell’s Reserve produces two bourbons and two rye whiskeys. Per their website, they have one mash bill for the bourbon and one for the rye – both of which are only known to the Russell’s. However, Wild Turkey has two mash bills, as well. Their bourbon being 75%, 13%, and 12% of corn, rye, and barley. Their rye mash bill is 51%, 37%, and 12% of rye, corn, and barley. This brings some to believe that Russell’s Reserve Rye uses the same mash bill.
Here’s what we do know. Russell’s Reserve Rye is distilled to a lower proof, so they don’t have to use much water to cut it to 90 proof. The water they do use comes from the Kentucky River and is limestone-filtered. Before that it’s aged 6 years in No. 4 alligator char oak barrels.
Russell’s Reserve Rye Taste
We’ve covered the history and basics behind Russell’s Reserve Rye, but now it’s time to get into the real reason you’re here. Is Russell’s Reserve Rye good? What does it taste like? Let’s pour ourselves a glass and find out.
Nose: Light and sweet on the nose. Lemon & vanilla aromas stand out most.
Taste: The initial taste is rye spice and pepper, but it fades into oak and vanilla. There is still a lemon/citrus undertone as well as some light nutty characteristics as well.
Finish: The finish is fairly short. Just a snap of pepper that disappears as quickly as it came. There is a light aftertaste that seems a little soapy or medicinal, though.
Russell’s Reserve Rye Taste Summary
To be honest, I was a little disappointed with Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Rye. It comes in a nice bottle, is aged 6 years, and is crafted by two of the biggest names in the distilling industry. It’s not to say that this is a bad whiskey, I just think it’s average at best. Nothing anyone will rave about.
While I say it wasn’t bad, the finish did leave a bad taste in my mouth – literally. I’m not sure if soapy is the right word to use, it may be a little harsh and misleading, but it certainly didn’t leave my mouth watering for more.
Old-Fashioned and Manhattan
After having a couple glasses neat and on-the-rocks, I transitioned this to a mixing whiskey for cocktails. It turns out that it was the right move to make. I’m not a fan of Russell’s Rye on the rocks, but it does make a good Old-Fashioned and Manhattan. Bitters/Vermouth/Simple Syrup covers up some of the flaws of Russell’s Reserve Rye while allowing the good parts to shine.
Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Rye Price
Taste isn’t the only thing there is to consider when buying whiskey. We also have to look at price. So, how much does a bottle of Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye cost? We take a look at prices from various Total Wine stores from across the country to come up with an average price range. Prices may vary depending upon your individual store and location.
- Russell’s Reserve 6yr Rye 750ml: $34-41
Russell’s Reserve Rye Value
Now that we’ve talked about the price and taste, we can ascertain the value of a bottle. I’m not sure there’s too much value in a bottle of Russell’s for me, personally. When I start looking at bottles in the $35+ range, I’m wanting something that is good to drink on the rocks. Russell’s Reserve Rye is a good rye whiskey for cocktails.
While that’s not necessarily a bad thing or an uncommon thing for a $35 bottle, there are so many other options. You can find good cocktail whiskeys for much cheaper than that, or you can find better sipping whiskey for a similar price tag.
This isn’t ever going to be my first choice, but I won’t avoid drinking it either. At the end of the day, if you like an Old-Fashioned and Manhattan, then this may be a good pick up for you.
Russell’s Reserve Rye Summary
I was a little disappointed in this rye whiskey because I love a good rye whiskey, and it fit right into the price range that I usually find my staples. The initial taste of Russell’s Reserve Rye was fine, nothing spectacular but nothing bad. It was the finish that turned me off this whiskey a bit.
As I mentioned, this isn’t a bad whiskey – it’s just better off going into cocktails than it is on the rocks. While that’s okay, it’s not what I’m looking for in a more expensive bottle of whiskey.
Below are frequently asked questions regarding Russell’s Reserve Rye, many of which are answered in the article above.
Is Russell’s Reserve Rye Good?
This is a fairly subjective question. The whiskey itself is quality whiskey. It’s not super thin or cheap. However, here at Barrell and Brew, we think it’s a whiskey better suited for cocktails than neat or on the rocks.
Who Makes Russell’s Reserve Rye?
Russell’s Reserve is made at Wild Turkey Distillery. It’s overseen by the master distillers there, Jimmy and Eddie Russell.
How to Drink Russell’s Reserve Rye?
While you can drink it neat or on-the-rocks, it’s best used in an old-fashioned or a manhattan.