Whilst perusing the whiskey aisle at my local store, I stumbled upon Russell's Reserve 10 year bourbon. The bottle was new to me and I wondered what Jimmy Russell, master distiller at Wild Turkey, had in mind with this small batch distillation. Interestingly, there are several different "Russell's Reserves" out there. For this particular bottle, the Austin Nichols version is the one under review. I found at least two other batches of Russell's Reserve 10 year old small batch bourbon that were not this bottle; if you happen to know the differences between the distillations (if any beyond bottling), please comment below.
Part of what drew me to the bottle was that it has a wonderfully warm and inviting amber color. When first opening the bottle you can immediately sense that this is a bit stronger than some other bourbons. At 90 proof, it does almost require cutting it with water to make a sipping drink. Less than the 101 proof of traditional Wild Turkey, it's still more than the traditional 80 proof. It's a bit more medicinal than sweet but does have a good, light flavor. There didn't seem to be any strong flavors I could discern, so it might work well with mixed drinks where it enhances but doesn't overpower the other ingredients. It was definitely a little spicy in places.
Aging the bourbon to 10 years was an interesting choice as it didn't seem any smoother than a regularly-aged bourbon. Perhaps it's years of scotch drinking where the difference between a 12-year and 15-year (or even 20-year) are so pronounced. Perhaps it's that at 90 proof it's still a very strong drink.
I have read elsewhere that the Reserve Bourbon is perhaps overly similar to the Reserve Rye. When I get to the rye I'll compare the similarities. In general, the Russell's Reserve Bourbon is a good drink for the price. DrinkUpNY.com has a good picture of the bottle and a basic overview.