Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon has rich honey and caramel sweetness followed by vanilla, cherries, citrus, apple, and licorice. It has this distinct fruitiness that I don’t find in many other unfinished bourbons. There’s also a moderate to moderate-strong oak, cinnamon spice, and overall darkness, but it’s nothing overdone or unpleasant, on par for a well-aged ~10 year old bourbon. The alcohol bites just a little, but it’s 110 proof after all.
After “chewing”, I taste lightly herbal notes mixed-in with quite sweet honey, licorice, vanilla, rainier cherry, citrus, guava, and some toasted oak and cinnamon. There’s quite the noticeable fruit presence, even with hints of mango, that’s abnormal for unfinished bourbon (I know I’m repeating myself). The supporting oak and spice add a little roasted structure, darkness, and bite, but the honey, fruit, and sweet herbal notes lead the way. Overall, the flavors remind me a lot of Stagg Jr, although with a little less bite, making this an excellent bourbon.
At first the finish is sweet with honey and cherries followed by moderated oak tannins, licorice, and cinnamon. Dried fruits with some dark oak tannins continue to linger as everything else fades. After “chewing”, the finish ebbs and flows between sweet honey, licorice, and fruit, and oak tannins and cinnamon. After the first surge in the finish, it settles into this lingering lightly herbal (anise and mint), sweet, and oaky finish; and after a while into light banana peel, which I find interesting and unexpected.