Following the end of the American Civil War, the Ripy Brothers returned to their native state of Kentucky and together, opened a distillery on the slopes of a hill in Lawrenceburg. The distillery operated continuously for nearly fifty years until the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the sale of alcohol in the United States, was ratified. Following the end of Prohibition, the Ripy Brothers Distillery was reopened and a distillery executive named Thomas McCarthy took samples of maturing whiskey from the distillery on a turkey-hunting trip with a group of friends. The following year, his friends asked him to bring "some of that wild turkey whiskey" on their next hunting trip, and the distillery was renamed Wild Turkey.
Since 1954, Wild Turkey Distillery has been operating under the tutelage of Master Distiller Jimmy Russell. "I've never been drunk," says Russell, who is a genuine bourbon aristocrat and a living legend in the business, "but I love my work. People tell me, "I hate to get up and go to work," he says. "I go seven days a week. You know, on Saturdays and Sundays I may go out there and sit around for an hour or so."
Russell's Reserve 6 Year Old Small Batch Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is made using a generations-old recipe. After the grains are mashed and fermented, they are distilled to a lower proof than at other distilleries in Kentucky, meaning that less water is used in diluting the whiskey before it is matured and bottled. Following distillation, the rye is aged for a minimum of six years in American oak casks that have been charred with a #4 char. Typically, the degree of charring within a cask is measured on a scale of one to four, with a #4 cask referring to casks that have been charred so heavily that the interior resembles an alligator hide (#4 casks are nicknamed alligator-charred casks). The heavy char used in the maturation of Russell's Reserve Rye contributes bold notes of honey, wood tannins and cinnamon to the whiskey, and complements its spicy notes of rye.
After the rye has matured for a minimum of six years, Russell and his son, Eddie (together, the pair have over 90 years of experience making whiskey), hand-select individual casks of rye whiskey to marry together. Once the casks have been hand-selected, the whiskey is brought to proof and bottled by hand.
Russell's Reserve 6 Year Old Rye has an aroma of vanilla, marzipan and spiced toffee. The aroma gives way to bold notes of rye, allspice, cinnamon and cloves on the palate, and finishes with spicy notes of toasted rye bread and roasted nuts.