How to Drink Russell's Reserve bourbon

How to Drink Russell’s Reserve bourbon

Russell’s Reserve Bourbon, a gem in the world of whiskey, offers a journey of taste that is both profound and pleasurable. This article unfolds the secrets to enjoying this exquisite bourbon, from the first pour to the last sip. With its deep roots in American distilling tradition, Russell’s Reserve stands out for its smooth, rich profile that beckons both novices and connoisseurs alike.

In the following sections, we’ll navigate through the nuances of bourbon appreciation, highlighting the distinctive features that make Russell’s Reserve a standout choice.

You’ll gain insights into the bourbon’s heritage, learn how to assess its quality by sight, scent, and taste, how to drink Russell’s Reserve bourbon, and even explore food pairings that elevate the experience.

Whether you’re sipping it neat or mixing it into a classic cocktail, this guide will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of Russell’s Reserve Bourbon. So, let’s raise a glass to the timeless craft of bourbon drinking, where every drop tells a story of flavor, tradition, and passion. Here’s to a delightful discovery of Russell’s Reserve Bourbon’s smooth, amber essence. 

Understanding Bourbon

Bourbon is more than just a drink; it’s an American tradition steeped in history. To truly appreciate Russell’s Reserve, it’s essential to grasp what bourbon is and what sets it apart from other spirits.

What is Bourbon?

At its core, bourbon is a type of whiskey. But not all whiskeys are bourbons. For a whiskey to earn the title of bourbon, it must meet specific criteria:

What is Bourbon?
Credits to Serious Eats
  • Made in the U.S.A.: While Kentucky is famous for bourbon, it can be produced anywhere in the country.
  • Corn Content: At least 51% of the grain used in making bourbon must be corn, giving it a distinctive sweetness.
  • Aging Process: It must age in new, charred oak barrels, which impart deep flavors and a rich amber color.
  • Proof: When distilled, it can’t exceed 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume), and when bottled, it must be at least 80 proof (40% ABV).
  • Pure: Nothing but water can be added to bourbon to adjust its proof when it’s bottled. This ensures the flavor remains unaltered.

The Characteristics of a Premium Bourbon

Russell’s Reserve is a premium bourbon, and here’s why:

  • Age: It’s aged longer than many standard bourbons, allowing complex flavors to develop.
  • Craftsmanship: Each batch is crafted with care, ensuring consistent quality and taste.
  • Flavor Profile: Expect a symphony of flavors, from vanilla and caramel to spicy oak, all balanced perfectly.

The Russell’s Reserve Legacy

Delving into the legacy of Russell’s Reserve is like exploring a treasure trove of bourbon lore. This section will guide you through the brand’s storied past and the meticulous process that goes into each bottle.

How to Drink Russell's Reserve bourbon
Credits to Manipal Hospital

The Story Behind the Brand

Russell’s Reserve carries the name of its master distillers, Jimmy and Eddie Russell, who have over 100 years of combined experience at Wild Turkey Distillery. Their dedication to quality and tradition is bottled in each batch of Russell’s Reserve, which stands as a testament to their expertise.

Distillation Process and Craftsmanship

The creation of Russell’s Reserve is an art form honed over decades. Here’s how it’s done, step by step:

Selecting the Ingredients

Corn: The primary grain, providing sweetness.

Rye: Adds a spicy, fruity flavor.

Barley: For fermentation and rich complexity.

The Distillation

Cooking: The grains are cooked to convert starches into fermentable sugars.

Fermentation: Yeast is added, turning sugars into alcohol over several days.

Distillation: The liquid is distilled to concentrate the alcohol and flavors.

Primary ingredients of  Russell's Reserve bourbon
Credits to Chicago Tribune
The Distillation process of bourbon
Credits to NEXTpittsburgh

Aging with Care

  • Barrels: New, charred oak barrels are used for aging, which is crucial for flavor.
  • Time: The bourbon ages for years, with the Russell’s deciding when it’s ready.

The Final Touch

  • Tasting: Each batch is tested to ensure it meets the Russell’s high standards.
  • Bottling: The bourbon is bottled at just the right moment to capture its essence.
Iconic Bourbon Distilleries in Kentucky

Preparing to Taste Russell’s Reserve Bourbon

Before diving into the rich flavors of Russell’s Reserve Bourbon, it’s important to set the stage for an optimal tasting experience. This section will guide you through choosing the right glass and creating the perfect environment to enjoy your bourbon.

Preparing to taste russell's reserve bourbon review
Creidits to The Right Spirit

Choosing the Right Glass

The glass you choose can greatly affect how you experience bourbon. Here’s what you need to know:

The Glencairn Glass

  • Design: A tulip-shaped glass that enhances the aroma.
  • Use Ideal for nosing, as it concentrates the bourbon’s scent.

The Snifter

  • Design: Wide-bottomed with a narrow top.
  • Use: Perfect for warming bourbon in your hand to release flavors.

The Rocks Glass

  • Design: Short and wide.
  • Use: Best for bourbon on the rocks or cocktails.

The Tasting Process

Tasting bourbon is an adventure for your senses. Let’s explore how to taste Russell’s Reserve Bourbon, step by step, to enjoy its rich flavors fully.

Taste of Tradition Lucky Seven 14-Year Bourbon Review taste

Observing the Color and Viscosity

First, look at the bourbon in your glass. Its color can range from golden to deep amber, hinting at its age and richness. Swirl it gently and watch how it coats the glass. This ‘legs’ effect can tell you about its body and alcohol content.

Nosing the Bourbon

Smell plays a huge part in tasting. Bring the glass to your nose and take a gentle sniff. You’ll find scents like vanilla, oak, and caramel. Each aroma contributes to the bourbon’s complex profile.

The First Sip

Take a small sip and let it roll over your tongue. Russell’s Reserve will reveal its initial flavors—perhaps sweetness from the corn or a hint of spice from the rye.

Savoring the Flavor Profile

As you hold the bourbon in your mouth, more flavors will emerge. Look for the subtleties: maybe some nuttiness or fruitiness. Notice how the flavors change from the moment you sip to the moment you swallow.

The Finish

After swallowing, pay attention to the aftertaste, or ‘finish.’ A good bourbon like Russell’s Reserve leaves a lasting, pleasant flavor that makes you want to come back for another sip.

Variations of Enjoyment

When it comes to enjoying Russell’s Reserve Bourbon, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. This section will explore the different ways you can enjoy your bourbon, whether you prefer it neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of water.

How to Drink Russell's Reserve bourbon
Credits to Bourbon Veach

Neat, On the Rocks, or With Water?

Drinking It Neat

  • What It Means: No ice, water, or mixers.
  • Why: To taste the bourbon as the distillers intended.
  • Tip: Take small sips to savor the full flavor.

On the Rocks

  • What It Means: With ice.
  • Why: The cold can tame the alcohol’s burn, and as the ice melts, it slightly dilutes the bourbon, which can reveal new flavors.
  • Tip: Use large ice cubes to slow down melting.

With Water

  • What It Means: Adding a few drops of water.
  • Why: Water can open up the flavors, making the bourbon more aromatic and less intense.
  • Tip: Start with a small amount and add to taste.

How to Drink Russell’s Reserve Bourbon as Bourbon Cocktails

For those who enjoy a good mix, here are two simple cocktail recipes that highlight the bourbon’s flavors without overpowering them.

The Classic Old Fashioned

  • Ingredients: Sugar cube, bitters, water, Russell’s Reserve Bourbon, orange peel.
  • Steps:
    1. Muddle sugar, bitters, and water.
    2. Add bourbon and ice.
    3. Stir gently and garnish with orange peel.

The Simple Bourbon Sour

  • Ingredients: Russell’s Reserve Bourbon, lemon juice, sugar syrup, ice.
  • Steps:
    1. Shake bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar syrup with ice.
    2. Strain into a chilled glass.
    3. Optional: Garnish with a cherry or lemon slice.
The Classic Old Fashioned

Ingredients: Sugar cube, bitters, water, Russell’s Reserve Bourbon, orange peel.


Muddle sugar, bitters, and water.

Add bourbon and ice.

Stir gently and garnish with orange peel.
Credits to Russell’s Reserve

Pairing with Food

Enhance your bourbon experience by pairing it with the right food.

Savory Pairings

  • Cheese: Aged cheddar complements the bourbon’s richness.
  • Meat: Smoked meats can match the bourbon’s boldness.

Sweet Pairings

  • Chocolate: Dark chocolate brings out the bourbon’s sweet notes.
  • Fruit: Fresh figs or pears can balance the bourbon’s spice.

Final Analysis

This is how to drink Russell’s Reserve bourbon. Embracing the world of bourbon, particularly Russell’s Reserve, is about more than just sipping on a spirit; it’s about celebrating a craft that has been perfected over generations. As you explore this rich and flavorful bourbon, remember to trust your senses, take your time, and let your personal preferences guide you. 

Whether you’re a seasoned aficionado or a curious newcomer, the true joy of bourbon lies in the discovery of its layered complexity and the stories it tells in every glass. So, pour yourself a measure of Russell’s Reserve, find comfort in the ritual, and cherish the moments of quiet contemplation it affords. After all, the best advice for enjoying bourbon is to do so thoughtfully, responsibly, and with an open heart to the nuances that each bottle offers. 


Disclosure: Our blog contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *