Eddie Russell has been working at Wild Turkey Distillery since 1981. He started at the bottom and worked his way up, getting experience doing every job there was to do at the distillery. A curious student, eager to learn and with a good palate, Eddie worked hard to earn his father’s trust and the respect of his co-workers. In January 2015 Wild Turkey and his father, Hall of Famer Master Distiller Jimmy Russell appointed Eddie Russell Master Distiller.
Wild Turkey Master’s Keep will be Eddie’s first release since being appointed to Master Distiller alongside his father. This bourbon has had a long journey, traveling 200 Miles and Aged for 17 years in various warehouses. This is Wild Turkey’s oldest bourbon release in the U.S. to date.
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The story of Master’s Keep begins in 1997. Wild Turkey had a surplus of Bourbon and no warehouse space left, so Eddie needed a place to store and age the extra barrels. A friend at another distillery offered his empty stone warehouses, but Eddie knew these would age the Bourbon differently than the wooden warehouses at Wild Turkey. He decided to take a chance and experiment a little, and so the barrels spent several years in stone warehouses before eventually coming back to Wild Turkey’s wooden ones. After 17 years and 200 miles, Eddie felt these traveling barrels had reached their peak flavor. It is fair to say that this Bourbon is a welcome innovation in long-aged whiskey. And, much to his surprise, when the barrels were dumped they were at a much lower proof than anticipated. Barreled at 107 proof, the whiskey was 89 proof when dumped and 86.8 proof (43.4% alc./vol.) when bottled – a result of the time these particular barrels spent aging in stone warehouses.
Learn more about barrel aging and warehousing. How Location in a Distillery Rackhouse Effects Proof
“Master’s Keep is the result of a lot of experimentation, patience and faith,” said Eddie Russell. “The sweet spot for Bourbon aging is usually between 8-12 years because older Bourbons tend to become too woody or spicy from sitting too long in the barrel. What I was able to do with Master’s Keep was retain the Bourbon’s rich caramel and vanilla flavors by aging the barrels in both stone and wood warehouses, sampling from them every few months to decide their next move.”
Jimmy Russell added, “I tend to not like Bourbons aged longer than 12 or 13 years because they lose the caramel and vanilla flavors, but Eddie and I both agree thanks to the unique way this whiskey was aged we have something special here that we truly hope our Wild Turkey fans and Bourbon connoisseurs enjoy.”
This latest limited-edition from the iconic Bourbon brand will be available nationally in small quantities starting in August 2015 for a suggested retail price of $150.