For some people, the highlight of the Kentucky Derby Festival is the 13.1 Mini-Marathon or the Great Steamboat Race between the Belle of Louisville and the Belle of Cincinnati or the Pegasus Parade down Broadway or the ginormous fireworks display Thunder Over Louisville and the accompanying spectacular air show or the Oaks Day fillies running for the Lilies or Kentucky Derby Day itself filled with big hats, infield shenanigans, Mint Juleps or the actual race when the world’s best three year old horses come together to compete in the “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports.” Yes, all that’s truly amazing with 141 years of Kentucky Derby history and pageantry, but for many this year’s highlight was to meet the only father and son Master Distiller team, the legendary Jimmy Russell and his son Eddie Russell of Wild Turkey Distillery. The two were in Louisville Derby Week as a part of the Wild Turkey “#NeverTamed Bourbon Tour.” (A full list of tour dates is below.)
When I caught up with them Jimmy was in the store signing bottles of Russell’s Reserve and Eddie was on the tour bus doing the same thing. That’s Jimmy and his lovely wife of 62 years Joretta in the cover photo.
Jimmy started his bourbon career in 1954 and Eddie, his youngest son, followed in his footsteps by joining Wild Turkey in 1981. They are both unique birds with a combined 95 years of bourbon making experience. You might say, bourbon runs through their veins.
Master Distiller Eddie Russell on the tour bus.
The dynamic duo is on a summer long adventure taking the Wild Turkey tour bus cross country on what is officially “The #NeverTamed Bourbon Tour.” The bus is a 360 degree distillery on wheels that educates and entertains Bourbon lovers. The 50-foot bus offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what makes Wild Turkey such an iconic American brand – from its history and place along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to the people and products who have catapulted it to global stature and success. The Wild Turkey “Distillery on Wheels” tour will travel from sea to shining sea although not at all in that order.
Jimmy and Eddie Russell in the early days.
Wild Turkey #NeverTamed Tour Dates
- Dallas 3/30-4/12
- Los Angeles: 4/13-4/19
- Louisville: 4/20-5/3
- Charlotte: 5/18-5/24
- Nashville: 6/1-6/7
- Manchester: 6/8-6/14
- Baltimore/DC: 6/15-6/21
- Atlanta 6/22-6/28
- Milwaukee: 6/29-7/5
- New Orleans: 7/13-7/19
- Chicago: 7/20-7/26
- St. Louis: 8/10-8/16
- Seattle: 8/31-9/16
- San Diego: 9/14-9/20
- Austin: 9/28-10/11
- San Francisco: 10/12-10/18
- Portland: 10/19-10/25
If you can’t make one of the tour dates, you can always visit the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.
Wild Turkey Distillery Tour Hours
- Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm EST. Tours on the hour until 4pm.
- Sun, 10am-4pm EST (Apr-Oct). Tours on the hour until 3pm.
- Closed on all major holidays.
Jimmy Russell’s Story
…this is what I believe. Do one thing well. Do it all the way, and you can stand proud. I’m Jimmy Russell. For 60 years, I’ve made Wild Turkey Bourbon my way.