I got lucky and got the call to get a bottle of Russell’s Reserve 2003 this week. I’m a big Russell’s Reserve fan and I enjoyed the Master’s Keep 17 year BiB from earlier this year even if I did think it was a bit pricey so I decided to take the plunge and buy a bottle. Let’s see how it holds up!
Age: 16 years
Abv: 89.5 proof
Nose: Surprisingly robust for the proof with rich oak and baking spices, Wild Turkey funk, sweet caramel and vanilla notes.
Taste: Sweeter than the nose with more caramel and vanilla along with something else I couldn’t place. The spice and oak picking up on the back of the palate. The specific taste of the baking spice notes is very nice. Unfortunately a relatively thin mouthfeel.
Finish: Very long finish with lingering oak, baking spice and sweet vanilla.
This is an excellent whiskey and is very well balanced. That said the low proof definitely takes a toll on the mouthfeel and there weren’t any really standout notes compared to a good Russell’s pick. On the other hand I was surprised how strong the nose was and how long the finish was with the low proof.
Overall I’d give a slight edge to the Master’s Keep 17 Year Bottled in Bond if you had to pick one of this year’s high end Turkey releases and I don’t think this bottle justifies the price. I am going to enjoy drinking it though.
TL;DR: Great whiskey at an unfortunately low proof and too high a price.
8 - an excellent bottle I’d like to have at home
Poor - Overpriced, not worth the money