I previously reviewed the LL/JD laser code batch 1 release and it earned my top marks as well as the 'Keep Amongst the Whiskey' distinction. When I finally saw another bottle on a shelf I knew I had to have it again. If the laser code situation makes you head spin: here is a great resource from rarebird101. My bottle of batch 1 is low enough that I'll be opening this one to fill that void in my heart anyway so I'm happy to also possible do a quick head to head to offer my thoughts on in if this a different batch or what if any variants I can find between them. Other than the fact that one will be distinctly more oxidized than the other making the comparison really not worth much in the end.
Regardless, I'm expecting another great release here from the Russell's line. The hype around this one still boggles my mind a little bit because I have had single barrel picks that come incredibly close to this release too, so don't feel too bad if you can't find this one. Keep in mind this review is going to be a fresh crack of this bottle. Let's get into it!
Company on Label: Wild Turkey
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Barley
Age: 13 years
Further identification: Russell's 13 comes with a white top label and a blue bottom label; it is NCF stated; this has the LL/JL laser code which is known as batch 2 amongst the people keeping track of such things and it was released in December of 2021
Nose: Decadent vanilla up front on the nose. Cherry skins and peanut brittle. Bright pepper, plum and fig sit atop a drying oak aroma. The dry peanut shells I'm finding on the nose are balanced well by the soft fruity characteristics. There doesn't seem to be much else going on so I'm going to head in for a sip now!
Coming back I find that more traditional bourbon notes like caramel and well-aged oak have cropped up alongside an orange peel aroma. As the glass gets lower I find that the body and heft hasn't subsided or really evolved - it's just been consistently good throughout with sweet vanilla bean and soft spurts of butterscotch that are delectable treats. The empty glass smells of honey, campfire ash, and sweet caramel.
Palate: Yum, that rich, sweet plum! It's instantly pervasive in a sweeping wave of strawberry sweetness. The mouth feel is creamy and slightly tannic like a good cabernet sauvignon will leave. Another sip and swish produces a fair bit of cinnamon on the tip of my tongue with a follow-through of cherry skins and trail mix. I love the creamy mouthfeel but I find a small flash of sandalwood in the linger sometimes which scares me a little bit. Another sip relaxes a lot of those fears with a beautiful bouquet of tart fruit. Orange wine dances on the palate well in a whirlwind of zesty effervescence. My last sip is vanilla forward with nutmeg, sandalwood and cinnamon sweeping in late.
As a bonus here are some of my thoughts about the comparison to the batch 1 release:
I thought the sandalwood note was unique to batch 2, but I do find it hidden in little corners now even on batch 1. I don't find any meaningful differences between the two here, so maybe we can relax and assume any of these laser codes are delicious. It's incredible how similar the tasting notes ended up on this one when I look back at batch 1 now. I think these might be all from the same tanked batch. I don't find any negative effects of oxidation on my batch 1 either, though I will certainly start to think about killing off this bottle sooner than later. I'm intrigued by that sandalwood note though. It seems odd to me and might be something about my experiences that I had today that is changing the whiskey a bit. Read into that what you will, I'm just here to share my thoughts, as crazy as they may be. I've also noticed today that both corks on the Russell's 13 releases are running a little looser than normal.
Bonus bonus... If you asked me to rank again the Rapid 2020 E/4 pick against the Russell's 13 pair tonight, I'd tell you that the Rapid pick is better. Fulfilling the July of 2021 prophecy that I could "go either way on the rank".
"I had these identified correctly. Having come off the 13 year tasting I knew it had some intense figgy. & jammy sweetness that bordered on a wine profile which definitely gave it away. There also are some slight nuances in the level of the oak intensity that gave away the age difference. I honestly could go either way on these pours rank-wise. At times the 13 year is almost too sweet for my preferences, but I'm sure many will enjoy that. I think this pick from Rapid Liquors is just an exceptional example of where Russell's picks can get to in terms of quality and will likely not represent the entirety of their line, as is expected with single barrel offerings."