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Whisk(e)y News: New Exclusive Bourbon Releases - 11/11/2017 - Other Distilled Spirits

As we alluded in our last Whisk(e)y News, we have a torrent of new spirits releases coming online over the next couple months, so let’s gear up and see what’s in store. Showing up this week, we have a set of thrilling new Bourbon releases from Russell's Reserve, an exclusive cask of Old Forester, a special Master’s Collection bottling from Woodford, and lastly, rounding things out, a K&L hand-selected barrel of the divine Maker's Mark 46. Rarely do we find such special, unique Bourbons as these and never all at once! Whether you are searching for a special treat for the Bourbon drinker in your life or want a collectible bottle for yourself, there’s most definitely something here to fit the bill. Production on many of the Bourbons is very limited, so this is an offer you don’t want to sit on.

Vintage Item Name Score Retail Link
Russell's Reserve K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #089 Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) $64.99 View
Russell's Reserve K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #550 Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) $64.99 View
Russell's Reserve K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #545 Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) Price: Hidden View
Old Forester K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #3511 (5th Floor, Warehouse G) Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whisky (750ml) $39.99 View
Woodford Master's Collection "Cherry Wood Smoked Barley" Kentucky Staight Bourbon (750ml) $99.99 View
Maker's Mark 46 "K&L Exclusive - #2" Private Select Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) $69.99 View

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Russell's Reserve K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #089 Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) ($64.99)

Wild Turkey does things a bit different than most of the other industrial distillers in Kentucky. They're committed to certain quality standards that other distillers have deemed inefficient to continue in the modern whiskey era. Even with the newly constructed distillery, where the Russells (Jimmy, Eddie, and Bruce) produce the most efficient and consistent whiskey they possibly can, they refuse to give up certain practices that they believe to be crucial to the character and quality of the special Wild Turkey legacy. That's why they put their name right on the bottle - this is the very best whiskey that nearly 100 combined years of whiskey making experience can deliver. But how exactly? First, they insist on a proper souring step, where lactobacillus bacteria is harnessed to adjust the pH of the original mash. Next, they insist on drawing the spirit of the still at lower proof to retain the inherent flavor of the grain, providing texture and depth to the spirit. Finally, they fill their casks at lower proof than the rest, usually 110 proof, providing the perfect environment for the whiskey to mature. That's why we ALWAYS find exceptional casks at Wild Turkey; they simply make some of finest whiskey available. No excuses, no gimmicks, just old fashion sour mash Bourbon at its very best. This spectacular cask is the driest and most herbal of our current single barrel offerings. It was aged in warehouse B on the fifth floor and drawn from the cask at 110.7.

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 18, 2017

This is a beautiful cask of Russell's Reserve. It is on the elegant side with a pronounced and refined nose. In the mouth there are the round and delicious bourbon brown sugar notes that one expects, but it is refined with layers of complexity. Not heavy but packed full of flavor.

Staff ImageDiana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 11, 2017

What a cool experience in the glass #089 is! Concentrated herbal nose gives way to softer caramel and brown sugar on the palate, with an underlying woodsy character and satisfying peppery finish. While this doesnt need much water to develop, it just gets more complex as the ice melts, if thats your preference. Im happy to have so many bottles of this gem on hand here in Hollywood.

Staff ImageDavid Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 04, 2017

Barrel 89 is easily the funkiest and most herbaceous of this new batch of wonderful Russell's Reserve single Barrels. While it doesn't enter the full on barnyard funk that sometimes exists in these barrels, it definitely has a bigger spice than the others. Big notes of varnish and antique wood, savory herbs, subtle notes of hay and fresh roasted coffee. Melted brown sugar round out those drier flavors on the nose. The palate continues the orchestra of herbaceous dark flavors. A bit of sweet maple notes on the mid palate keep it from being totally overpowering, but the pepper and spice build again on the finish. For those who like the big bold dry rye driven style WT this is definitely the move.

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Russell's Reserve K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #550 Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) ($64.99)

The Wild Turkey Distillery is on the short list of my absolute favorite places to visit in Kentucky. It's not only the picturesque rolling hills and beautiful views over the Kentucky River, but also the familiar faces of the Russell family who have been in charge of the plant near Tyrone for decades. Now that the 3rd generation of Russell is coming into the fold we can see a clear continuity for this special brand long into the future. Bruce Russell, son of Eddie, is at the distillery learning the ropes from Grandpa Jimmy. Bruce is as passionate, entertaining, and kindhearted as any Russell and will be a fine steward for the brand. In 2011, they opened the new distillery, gleaming and efficient, but never sacrificing key quality elements that set the Kickin' Chicken apart from the bourbon flock. That's what the Russell's really bring to the table, a stubborn refusal to compromise quality. This special whiskey was distilled at the original facility on the banks of the Kentucky. The first distillery was erected by Thomas Ripy in 1891. Old, wooden, and warn down it was one of the most interesting stops on the bourbon trail, but has since been demolished. Jimmy's not sentimental. His only concern is to make the best whiskey possible and not dwell on the past. Luckily, we're still getting great old bourbon distilled at that original site. This single cask, selected from the D warehouse and aged at least 10 years was reduced from an original strength of 111.6.

Staff ImageDiana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 11, 2017

Possibly my favorite of our Russells barrels, although theyre all so great, its tough to pick a clear standout. #550 is fruity and subtly aromatic up front, but develops more intense spice and woodsy character through the palate. This feels the richest in body, with heady honey notes and a long, soothing finish, plus just enough kick. A decadent bottle at a killer price.

Staff ImageDavid Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 04, 2017

Barrel #550 is easily the crowd pleaser in this recent batch of excellent Wild Turkey barrels. The nose is 100% baked Red Delicious, sweet wild honey, woodsy spice. Unctuous and mouth coating with a strong sense of brown sugar and none of the pepper we usually get on these Russell's Casks. Full bodied and full steam it sticks with you for quite a while after the glass is empty. A true treat and easily what some might term a honey barrel.

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Russell's Reserve K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #545 Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) Price: Hidden

We know that Wild Turkey is producing some of the best stuff out there because we've tasted it. The brand itself has a long history of producing super high quality bourbon. The origins of the brand starts with an executive at the prominent spirits company Austin Nichols. He had pulled samples from the Old Hickory distillery, built originally in 1891, for a Turkey hunting trip and when his f starting requesting "that Wild Turkey" whiskey - he knew he'd got something special. They bottled bourbons from multiple Kentucky distillers, but most of the stocks came out of that original distillery and Austin Nichols eventually purchase the facility and renamed it the Wild Turkey Distillery. The brand garnered a reputation for quality and was one of the highest end offerings until the bourbon crash and sale to Pernod Ricard. While they moved away from the high-end offerings over the next two decades, the continued to offer some exceptional quality and old bottles from this period remain some of the best stuff out there. With the sale of the brand to Campari in 2009, a renewed commitment to the old history of bottling stupendously special bourbon is clear. They've built the Russell's brand in that image and continue to offer us some of the finest single cask bourbon on the market. This whiskey was aged right next to barrel #550 in warehouse D and highlights the incredible differences two whiskies with very similar aging environments can exhibit. It was drawn from the barrel 114.9 proof.

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: December 18, 2017

This is a classic, rich Kentucky bourbon. There is a nose of rich caramel aromas that lead to balanced and juicy caramel and honey flavors. A hint of vanilla rounds this delicious selection out.

Staff ImageDavid Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 04, 2017

This barrel #545 fits perfectly in between the other two barrels in terms of style. Not as austere and intense as #89, but not as sweet and soft as #550. The nose has wonderful pop of evergreen, roasted herbs, flambeed orange peel, and sweet oak. On the palate we've got tons of fruit up front, braised orchard fruits and dark cherry that build into a strong pepper and spice on the finish. The mid-palate is textured and bursting with roasted woods and exotic vanilla. This whisky isn't restrained by any means, but does need some teasing to really open up, maybe 15-20 min in the glass to really unleash the full potential.

Old Forester K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #3511 (5th Floor, Warehouse G) Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whisky (750ml) ($39.99)

This wild little cask was the most controversial during the tasting after walking through the historic distillery. In the dark corridors of the warehouse with the magnanimous Jackie Zykan, Brown-Forman's Master Taster, we thiefed samples direct from the cask. This barrel was an extreme outlier in terms of character and I could tell it bothered Jackie. When I dove into this special whiskey I immediately tagged it as being a winner. I was in love! The nose alone was enough to win me over. We'd stumbled on something special and I wasn't going to let it go. After seeing the incredible consistency the Old Forester warehouses were producing (that the dry concrete aging and steam heat tend to produce), I was excited to have something a bit different. Typically we expect big spicy nose and a sweet, soft finish on the OFs. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why the flavors at Old Forester layer that way, but it seems to be ubiquitous across the offerings. As it turns out this cask was a leaker, which accounts for much of the unique profile. These low-yielding barrels see significantly more oxidation, and as long as they don't go bitter, we tend to love what happens to the bourbon. Here you've got a nose of dense black cherry, lacquer, sweet oak, sweet tarts, roasted coffee beans, and maple. The sweet cherry fruit is upfront with a vanilla cola note taking hold in the middle. The oak spice builds on the finish, taking hold from overt sweetness up front. An outlier for sure.

Staff ImageDavid Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 01, 2017

When I was tasting this cask with Brown-Forman's Master Taster and Bourbon Specialist Jackie Zykan, this barrel stood out like a sore thumb...dipped in cherry cola! I was enamored, but she seemed concerned that it fell distinctly outside of the standard OF profile. Turns out this cask had been leaking, likely the reason for the out-of-the-norm aromatics. Despite her concern I was totally taken by this one. It had this wonderful nose of wood varnish and vanilla that reminded me of some of the old bourbons I've been lucky enough to taste. It's perhaps the old bottle effect being replicated in barrel as the massive loss means massive oxidation. But this stuff drinks like sweet tea and cherry cola and only reminds you it's bourbon on the way down where it grabs hold of you for a bit before softening up a few moments later. Only 108 bottles in this miniature, bizarre little cask of Old Forester.

Woodford Master's Collection "Cherry Wood Smoked Barley" Kentucky Staight Bourbon (750ml) ($99.99)

The experimental Master's Collection is one of the most interesting special releases of the year. Most people don't realize that Woodford Reserve is actually a blend of the pot-stilled bourbon from Labrot & Graham distillery near Frankfort and the Early Times distillery in Louisville. The great thing about the small batch nature of their pot-stills is that they can experiment. Now in its 12th year, Master's Collection is one of the most exciting and controvesial releases of the year. Previous bottlings have been met with a great praise although the unorthodox nature of many of their releases has garnered champions and critics alike. What's certain is that these won't be around for long, and once they're gone they'll never be recreated. For the 2017 they've turned to messing with part of the mash bill to create a bourbon influenced by cherry wood smoking. The malt content hear is around 30% and that malt was dried with Cherry Wood smoke in a proprietary kilning process. It's likely the highest malt bourbon ever created in Kentucky. Big, rich, complex, and it has perfect balance between sweet toasty oak and smoldering cherry smoke.

Maker's Mark 46 "K&L Exclusive - #2" Private Select Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) ($69.99)

When Maker's Mark invited me to do a custom K&L barrel of Maker's 46 (their enhanced Bourbon that sees additional aging with seasoned oak staves), I was practically itching to go; especially because I knew they were going to let us bottle the whiskey at full proof. If there's one thing we can't get enough of at K&L these days, it's high octane wheated Bourbon, especially since the Van Winkle craze of the past decade has gutted most of the available supply. Because wheated Bourbons substitute wheat for rye as the flavor grain in the mash bill, the result is a creamier and sweeter whiskey that really pops on the palate at cask strength. The really cool part about the Maker's 46 custom barrel program is that they allow you to choose between a number of different staves, three of which are exotic french oak flavors. Barrel #2 used 8 Maker's 46 staves with 2 French oak staves to create a sweet and baking spice-laden Bourbon that accentuates everything we love about high-proof wheaters! It's bursting with cinnamon, clove, sweet vanilla, and it coats the palate with a creamy texture. Barrel #1 is the drier, cocoa-packed, rich and robust creation, but Barrel #2 is classic wheated Kentucky Bourbon turned up to 11 on the volume. You'll have to control your impulses with this bottle; it's almost too delicious.

Staff ImageAndrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 08, 2017

The Maker's Mark delivers again. The stunning thing about these casks is that the basic juice is so good, and the extra stave aging adds a different twist every time, that they don't ever seem to lose their appeal. A home run for fans of creamy, sweet wheaters. It's layered with cinnamon, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and a peppery kick that I'm confident comes more from the high proof than the wood, although there is decidedly a presence of oak spice. This is a killer gift in time for the holidays. I'm taking one to Thanksgiving and giving another for Christmas.