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Russell's Reserve Single Rickhouse Camp Nelson F Bourbon (2023) Review
Mash bill, yeast, still design, water, and wood all have their respective impacts on bourbon. But among true bourbon geeks, the aging environment is even more fun to talk about. In 2022, Wild Turkey capitalized on this trend (and raised more than a few eyebrows) by launching its Single Rickhouse series, a batched bourbon sourced from a singular warehouse. Russell’s Reserve Single Rickhouse Camp Nelson C certainly caused a stir, both for its rich flavors and hefty $250 suggested price tag.
Now, Wild Turkey is back for more, this time with another release from a nearby building on the same aging campus: Rickhouse F, which was built in the 1940s. The release, aged a minimum of 10 years and “crafted from a small batch of barrels from the ‘center cut’ floors 4 and 5,” is bottled at 117.6 proof, remarkably high even among the brand’s barrel strength offerings. It comes from a familiar Turkey mash bill: 75 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 12 percent malted barley.
This time around, the MSRP has ticked up to $300, an increase likely influenced by the first release’s success among both drinkers and collectors. Today, we’re tasting Russell's Reserve Single Rickhouse Camp Nelson F. Will the quality of the juice live up to one of Wild Turkey’s highest-ever retail price tags?
Russell's Reserve Single Rickhouse Camp Nelson F: Stats and Availability
Russell’s Reserve Single Rickhouse series is a highly allocated release with a suggested retail price of $300 for a 750ml bottle. This uncut, unfiltered, barrel proof bourbon is the second in the company’s Single Rickhouse series and is bottled at 58.8 ABV. The previous release — Camp Nelson C — commanded premiums on many shelves and the secondary market.
While the Single Rickhouse series doesn’t quite have the name recognition (yet) of other allocated releases, I won’t be surprised to see it going for $100 (or more) over suggested retail in some places. That said, the already-high price tag may deter some folks from taking the plunge, which could help keep prices in line with suggested retail.
Russell's Reserve Single Rickhouse Camp Nelson F Review
As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.
Heavy oak and cinnamon chewing gum hit early on the nose, and the spice is already more pronounced than I remember from the Rickhouse C release. Just underneath those early notes, there’s both vanilla bean and a (more subdued) scent of dark chocolate; as someone who loves black and white cookies, this bourbon is certainly reminiscent to start.
More time in the glass brings out wave after wave of classic, deep Wild Turkey bourbon notes: black cherry, brandy-soaked fruit, baked clove, and some of the darkest caramel you’ll ever smell. But while the sweetness and fruitier elements open up more with time and subsequent returns to the glass, this nose never loses an ounce of its robust spiciness, as if those aromas refuse to be tamed.
The result is an uncommonly rich array of scents that build on their own intensity without drowning each other out. So far, this is one of the punchiest, most fascinating whiskeys I’ve smelled this year.
Spiciness on the nose gives way to candied orange as a first flavor, reminiscent of some more recent batches of Russell’s 13 but with less chocolate and more baking spice. Where I was expecting notes of cacao, instead thick vanilla-steeped cream follows, carrying the whiskey to the midpalate.
A couple more sips bring that dark, oaky caramel, which leans toward bitter without flopping over into burnt territory; paired with the continued orange/citrus notes, that nearly tart note helps balance the vanilla quite nicely. The back of the palate has some fruit — again, black cherry and perhaps blackcurrant — but also elements of sweet cola and root beer.
The finish is an oak fan’s world, and we’re just living in it. Sweet cola gives way to an array of wood-kissed flavors and a continued thread of clove; I taste elements of barrel char, toasted barrel sugar, and even green oak. The palate only gradually dissipates, making each sip’s finish unique as layers of flavor ebb and flow in a manner that’s both inconsistent (in a complex, positive way) and intriguing.
A couple liberal drops of water don’t fully transform this whiskey, but they do further highlight the citrus notes, extending the flavor of candied orange all the way through the finish. In effect, they turn that cola to creamsicle — and I’m happy to keep sipping either way.
Russell's Reserve Single Rickhouse Camp Nelson F Rating
Wild Turkey’s second Russell’s Reserve Single Rickhouse release exceeds its predecessor in almost every category: proof, price tag, and flavor. This batch from Camp Nelson F is both bold and complex, and it’s an instant competitor for 2023’s best limited release bourbon.
It’s not a truly flawless whiskey (though a couple drops of water brings incredible balance), but Camp Nelson F showcases a heritage Kentucky distillery at the height of its powers. Assuming Wild Turkey continues their Single Rickhouse series into 2024 and beyond, it will certainly be tough to exceed this release. But let’s certainly hope they try.