Welcome to Shelf Sleepers, our semi-regular guide to the best booze nobody is buying. This time: Russell's Reserve 10-Year, a bourbon that has managed to travel through time and space to land on shelves in 2021.
In theory, Buffalo Trace Distillery's Eagle Rare is its closest competitor, matching its double-digit maturation and price point. In practice, Eagle Rare is a Buffalo Trace Distillery product and is much more difficult to track down because of that, which means it's typically more expensive than its SRP would suggest. Before it earned the most prestigious award in whiskey, Heaven Hill's Henry McKenna went blow-for-blow with it, but nowadays it goes for $60 or more. Russell's Reserve 10-year is a relictual bourbon; whiskey that's well-aged, well-priced, available and under 100 proof.
Though "good for the price" is a common and somewhat reductive phrase in bourbon communities, it has its place, and few bottles are better described this way than Russell's Reserve.
It's named after Jimmy Russell, longtime Wild Turkey master distiller and Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame inductee, and the company sells it for $40. Why? Who can know.
Where most Wild Turkey whiskey throws flavor haymakers, Russell's 10 rolls more quietly, full of vanilla sweetness and soft oak. The combination of Wild Turkey's low barrel entry proof, added years in the barrel and a lower bottle proof (90) create an unnatural smoothness. In short: I'd drink it with a straw. You can drink it how you like.