Monday, August 20, 2018

Russell's Reserve 2002 vs. Wild Turkey Master's Keep Revival Reviews

Two limited edition products from Wild Turkey released around the same time. One is an expensive 12-15 year old at 101 proof and finished in 20 year old Oloroso Sherry casks. The other is a super limited, super expensive, barrel proof, 16 year old. I love Wild Turkey and Eddie Russell is easily my favorite current master distiller in the industry so this should be fun.

Wild Turkey Master's Keep Revival

Aged 12 - 15 years; 50.5% ABV; Batch 0001; Bottle 38558; $150
Nose: Fruity, older bourbon. The sherry notes are pretty evident and add a nice grape jam layer on top of the sweet, spice, and oak. 
Taste: Lots of typical bourbon notes up front - honey and vanilla followed by familiar Wild Turkey baking spices and lots of fruit glaze. The tail ends off with a hefty dose of charred oak, light spice, and a lot of fruity jam. Again the sherry finish is very evident. Without the fruit notes it very much reminds me of the exported 12/101 that was still being sold overseas up until a few years ago.
Thoughts: I've loved this from the moment I opened it and that feeling remains. It has all the familiarity of a great Russell's Reserve Single Barrel or 12/101 Wild Turkey with a nice dose of fruitiness mingled throughout. This is easily my favorite release in the Master's Keep line and the first one I've ever liked enough to buy a second. If I had any criticism it would be the finish is a touch char heavy / bitter.
Rating: B+

Russell's Reserve 2002

No Age Statement (Distilled 2002, Bottled 2018); 57.3% ABV; Bottle 3085/3640; $250
Nose: A lot more intensity than the Revival which is to be expected given the proof bump. It's not any hotter than it should be for 57% though. Smells like a ramped up older Russell's Reserve Single Barrel. 
Taste: Lots of sweet bourbon notes initially - honey, caramel, graham cracker. That slowly transitions to more wood and baking spice in the middle and lingers on through the finish. It is hefty on the wood and baking spices. I get faint hints of what nerds often refer to as dusty turkey notes. Tasted blind I might suspect this was a vintage Wild Turkey like the donut bottling.
Thoughts: As someone who loves Russell's Reserve Single Barrel, this is very good. There are no surprises here, it tastes exactly like what it should based on the specs. If there are any faults it might be that it is a touch heavy in the oak department on the finish and almost starts to trigger my bitterness flags.
Rating: B+ / A-

Overall Thoughts: I don't really want to pick a winner here as these are two totally different animals. I love the dark brooding fruit forward profile of the Revival as it's very unique. On the flip-side, the 2002 is a classic high proof old bourbon. Though the 2002 might be the slightly better of the two, I've had more things like the 2002 than the Revival so if you pressed me to pick a desert island pour, I'd ask for the Revival. As for the value, I certainly wouldn't recommend the 2002 at retail or anything beyond that. There are lots of bottles I'd rather have that were 1/5th the price so I'm glad I split this one with a buddy rather than going all in myself.

Note that price is not considered when assigning a rating.

1 comment:

  1. Great reviews, as always. Revival is truly a favorite Turkey of mine. I agree - there's some 101/12 notes there. The Sherry is never heavy and the spice is just right IMHO. I only wish there were more 101/12 domestically. Maybe down the road!

    As for RR 2002, it's a damn fine pour; however, the bitterness flags definitely go off for me at the end. Not crazy or alarming, but it tends to be the last notes I get on the finish. If it rounded off a tiny bit more, it'd be near perfect.

    As always, enjoyed reading!