September 10th 2023 will mark the combined experience of 105 years between Wild Turkey brand and Russell’s Reserve brand. Now that is a lot of years and in such a unique way. Russell’s Reserve is a name that today drives people to the cash register with the idea that they are getting that level of experience and history poured into the bottle and eventually right down the hatch. The unique brand of Russell’s Reserve is not only just good bourbon but a very interesting duo of a long standing relationship between father and son.
Wild Turkey who in the parent company of Russell’s started off with Jimmy Russell mastering the industry and the products that he loves so much an poured his life and heart into. Jimmy started at Wild Turkey Distillery in 1954 and is still active today as a Master Distiller marking his path of over 60 years and making him the oldest active distiller in the business today. In fact his career is 10 years older than a congressional resolution that makes bourbon a “Distinctive product of the United States.” Eddie Russell who is considered the “new guy” by his father even with over 30 years in the business is a long standing joke between the father and son. The father Jimmy Russell stands truly behind time honored flavors within their overarching bourbon profiles drawing into what have worked for over 200 years will continue to work throughout the age. Russell’s Reserve, Rare Breed and Kentucky Spirit are all small-batches and single-barrel bourbons are all Wild Turkey items that his father introduced during Jimmies tenure. These are ultimately leading to the continued evolvement of his legacy that he leaves behind Eddie. As a nod and tribute with barrels only selected from the best of their rick house an evolution of a great bourbon was born.
A timeline of Eddie’s tenure is as follows which is taken at the credit of the Russell’s Reserve Website.
“In 1981 Eddie Russell, son of Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, is welcomed into the Wild Turkey family and begins his life-long career in the whiskey industry.
In 1998 to celebrate Jimmy’s 45 years of service at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, Eddie crafts special small-batch bourbon called Russell’s Reserve.
In 2001 Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve debuts as a 10-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon, bottled at 101 proof.
In 2005 Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon evolves into the 90-proof bottle that is on shelves today. This small-batch bourbon is a testament to the family’s history.
In 2007 Eddie creates Russell’s Reserve Rye, a 6-year-old small-batch bourbon, bottled at 90-proof.
In 2010 Eddie joins his father and other whiskey icons when he is inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame™.
In 2013 Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon is introduced as a 110-proof, non-chill filtered expression.
In 2015 following in his father’s footsteps, Eddie earns the distinguished title of Master Distiller. Jimmy and Eddie are the longest-tenured father and son duo in the bourbon industry, with more than 100 collective years of experience as of today. Eddie also releases Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye, a 104-proof, non-chill filtered bottle, and the first Russell’s Reserve vintage whiskey, Russell’s Reserve 1998.
In 2018 the second vintage in the series, Russell’s Reserve 2002, a 17-year-old barrel proof bourbon, is launched.” – RussellsReserve.com
Here at Embrace The Bourbon we have reviewed a few of the brands bottles such as Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye which falls on the light side of tastings and very introductory and Russell’s Reserve 10 Year which tops our charts. Looking toward the future we will continue to dig and go deep into the value, quality and craft that goes into the making of these bourbons and ryes.
As a father and son duo Russell’s Reserve inspires many fans, distillers and entrepreneurs of what a family business should be and look like. Full of mentorship, know how, love and good bourbon whether if you’re making it or just on the side as a pas-time. Cheers to your next bottle of Russell’s!
Photo Credit: GoBourbon.com