Saturday, August 1, 2020

Russell's Reserve Binny's Private Barrel Selection Kentucky Straight Bourbon - Barrel #20-0015

- $55
- 110 Proof
- Barrel #20-0015
- Kentucky

It feels like it's been a while since Binny's, or any liquor store near me for that matter, got in any Russel's Reserve private picks. I've always had a tendency to gravitate towards them, and I've come across some absolutely stellar bottles. But it seems like for the past year or so we've been in a Russel's picks drought. Luckily for me, though, a couple weeks ago Binny's got in a nice haul of a few different Russel's Reserve barrels as well as some Kentucky Spirit barrels.

A buddy and I each grabbed a different barrel (if only I could have gotten one of each), and he got around to opening his before I could get to mine. His impression was essentially that it was just fine. It was a good whiskey, but not great, nothing to write home to mom about. That was a bit disappointing, and unfortunately I don't know what barrel he had. That being said, that's the best part of single barrels--each one is different. So his initial impressions motivated me to go ahead and crack mine open.

The nose on this was absolutely delicious. Right away I got rich notes of chocolate and cherry. That was balanced by a spicy cinnamon note, kind of like cinnamon sticks. There was also a layer of aroma that smelled a lot like chocolate chip cookies. These flavors all worked so well together, like some new type of amazing Christmas cookie that my wife needs to learn how to make.

The flavor didn't come across quite as bold. In fact, it didn't seem to drink up to its proof, if that makes sense. It wasn't as strong in flavor as I expected it to be given that it was 110 proof. That being said, the flavors were nonetheless delicious, and it had a sweet complexity to it that I really enjoyed.

I got a bunch of the traditional notes of brown sugar and caramel. Neither one was really dominant enough to be bomb-worthy (i.e. a "caramel bomb" as the kids on the internet would say). It actually had a really good balance of both flavors. 

What was missing, though, was the spice. I've become used to a certain level of spice in my Turkey products, at least in their bourbons certainly. Here, however, while there was a slight cinnamon flavor and spicy tingle, it just wasn't very strong. This came across as more of a sweeter bourbon, a profile which I would liken to a wheated bourbon, with any heat coming solely on the finish.

This was certainly a sweeter, dessert-like bourbon. It had this buttery quality to it, not in texture but in flavor, that was a lot like buttercream frosting. There was a healthy-enough dose of vanilla to make this work really well, and with the brown sugar seemed to come across like a frosted chocolate chip cookie (like those giant cookies you used to walk past at the mall).

This bottle was interesting. I expected a certain profile going in, and found that it wasn't at all what I expected. However, it proved to be a very tasty bourbon, and one certainly on the sweeter end. While I tend to lean more towards a spicier bourbon, this one was still really good, and I found myself working my way through the bottle at a pretty rapid rate. It certainly keeps me interested in finding more Russel's private picks.

Grade: B+

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