Friday, September 20, 2019

Russell's Reserve Binny's Private Selecting Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon - Barrel #19-0035

VITALS:
- $54
- 110 Proof
- NAS
- Barrel #19-0035
- Kentucky

I do love Russel's Reserve bourbon, and lately I've managed to get some fantastic private picks, including a couple recent picks by Warehouse Liquors in Chicago and one from the last go-round at Binny's. This time around Binny's managed to get a bunch in, and I, once again, felt compelled to at least try one of them.

I got a few recommendations, and I read through the tasting notes on the approximately eight or so different barrels, that seemed to offer everything from woody to robust to sweet to spicy to fruity. It was nearly impossible to choose, so I just picked one in the middle, and Barrel #19-0035, heralding from the fourth floor of Rickhouse CN A, is what I got.

The nose was delicious and traditional. It gave off warm aromas of cinnamon and caramel, as well as a light chocolate flavor. It had a lot of wood on the nose, and even a bit of tobacco leaf, something I find more in Irish whiskeys than American whiskeys.  Also noticeable, however, was the health dose of alcohol on the nose. Frequently that will dissipate after the first pour or two, but with this one it remained pretty consistent through to the bottom of the bottle.

As to flavor, the very first thing that I noticed on the tip of my tongue was this great, salty-sweet combination that was like salted caramel. In fact, that salted caramel flavor seemed to dominate throughout this bottle.  All other flavors were really only playing second fiddle.

I never got the wood from the nose, or really anything else to balance out the sweetness. I got a bit of a raisin note, making it taste almost like a raisin cookie. However, that sweet caramel really overshadowed any of the more fruity, earthy or savory notes that might have been there.

On the finish, it had a little bit of spice to cut through the sweetness, with some nice, warm cinnamon at the end and a good, long Kentucky hug.  Even with that, however, I found myself smacking my lips after every sip, with that sticky caramel flavor just lingering.

As I'm writing this out, I'm realizing that for some palates, this might be exactly what people want in a bourbon. It actually sounds delicious! However, it was a bit too sweet and unbalanced for me, and it just seemed to get sweeter as it went. If it had a bit more influence from the wood, or if the spice was a little bit more forward, or if those dark fruits took a more prominent role, I feel like this would have been outstanding.

All in all, this was a very good barrel, it just didn't quite approach greatness for me.

Grade: B

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