Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey


VITALS:
- $60
- 104 Proof
- NAS
- Kentucky

This is one of those whiskeys that I just never got around to trying, despite knowing that I should. After all, I do love me some Wild Turkey rye. I always have. And yet, despite it being a regular on the shelf and generally available, I never picked up a bottle of the Single Barrel Rye. I honestly have no explanation for it, and it seems silly that I've waited this long to grab a bottle.

So, grab one I did!

The nose on this one was a bit light, and I found I had to spend some time sniffing my glass just to pick up what notes I did. However, what was there was delicious. It had a light caramel note with a dusting of cinnamon. It also had a decent amount of vanilla bean as well as some sweet tobacco leaf. It was all sweet but earthy, and with just a touch of spice to keep it from being dull.

I hate using this word in my notes, and for that reason I almost never do. But, the first thing that I wrote down in my Notes app on my phone was "super smooth." I guess what I mean by that, though, is that despite this coming in at 104 proof, I got absolutely zero alcohol on the palate, allowing every other flavor to come through entirely. I realize that 104 isn't exceptionally high proof, but it's high enough that the alcohol burn would typically come through, masking the flavors even just a bit. Not so here.

Instead I got a mouth full of sweet but rich notes. I got a lot of brown sugar, along with the caramel and cinnamon that I was getting off the nose. However, it had a fatty richness to it, almost a buttery note that mixed with everything. It reminded me of the drizzle or topping on the coffee cake my grandma used to bake every morning when we visited--quite the positive memory (and yes, completely unrelatable, I know). The cinnamon provided just a touch of spice to offset that rich sweetness in a way that was almost perfect.

Perhaps a bit more relatable is that it reminded me of a Werther's caramel candy. It had that silkiness to the caramel flavor so it wasn't all cooked sugar. And it's that flavor that really seemed to stick around. Despite the proof, and perhaps owing to that buttery richness, this whiskey really coated my mouth and the back of my throat after each sip.  That coating left behind those buttery caramel notes in a way that was like eating a hard candy (bringing me right back to that Werther's note). 

Because I'm always buying whiskeys that I've never had before (and I've got tons of options), I typically don't have what people refer to as an every-day drinker. Given the availability of this whiskey, though, if I were to have an every-day drinker, this would probably be it. I loved everything about this whiskey, and I'm kicking myself for not having tried it sooner. And, as a side note, it feels good to give this high of a grade to a whiskey that is pretty widely available. 

Grade: A

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