I love bourbon, but sometimes I want something with a little more kick. That’s when I reach for a glass of rye whiskey. Lately, I find myself drinking more and more rye whiskey. Whether it be something big and powerful like Pikesville Rye or something deeply complex like Sazerac 18-year-old Rye, there’s something to scratch my itch. So when the folks at Russell’s Reserve sent over samples of their bourbons for me to try, they also included a bottle of their 6-year-old rye whiskey. I was especially excited because I really like Wild Turkey’s 101 proof rye whiskey.
The nose is aromatic and absolutely lovely. Spicy caramel, cloves, allspice, and toasted rye bread dominate the nose. After a little time in the glass, hints of dill and vanilla appear. The nose seems fuller than Wild Turkey 101 proof rye, which is also fantastic. In the taste department, rye spice hits your tongue sharply, but soon mellows out. Waves of nutty toffee and baking spices develop over a bed of creamy vanilla. The spice ramps up again for the long, warm finish.
Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell has stated in the past that he doesn’t release whiskies younger than six years old for any of his products. He also said he thinks a rye whiskey peaks in flavor at six years of age. Comparing this bottle of Russell’s Reserve Rye with Wild Turkey’s 101 proof rye, I find this one more “rye-forward.” If we’re to believe Jimmy, and I have no reason not to, both whiskies are at least six years old. Russell’s Reserve Rye seems to be a bit sharper and more complex in flavor and aroma, where Wild Turkey Rye has a flavor profile closer to a Wild Turkey bourbon.
This one’s a keeper. It has everything I look for in a young rye whiskey. The rye grain sharpness, baking spices and just enough sweetness. I’ve only sipped this whiskey, and haven’t had a chance to mix into a cocktail. I bet it’ll make a helluva sazerac.