Campari has been putting in a lot of effort in Asia for the past couple of years.
I was too focused on learning about rum when they started promoting more of Wild Turkey (WT), Aperol, Bulldog gin and Campari. Fortunately, a WT virtual tasting was held a couple of months ago by their Regional Brand Ambassador, Zoltan Konczol. One had to buy a sample set which had the basic offerings, as well as the Russell’s Reserve, to join the tasting.
The sample-set cost around $40 and I thought it was a good time to see if my opinion on WT will change. Since I’ve been drinking a more diverse selection of spirits, I’m sure my palate has changed. When I was only drinking mostly whisky, I always tasted this rough texture in any of the Campari WT’s, while not getting any of it in the Austin Nichols WTs. This feature made me steer clear of anything from the distillery.
This would also be a good chance to compare two well-liked bourbons as well. Aside from the ABV difference, 45% for Russell’s Reserve 10 and 50% for Henry Mckenna 10, it’s a very even match. Both have 10-year age statements. Russell’s Reserve is available via Total Wine in California for a modest asking price of $34. Personally, I recall buying this in Hi-Time Wines for around $50 back in 2018 – so there’s some deflation!
Russell’s Reserve 10 Years Old – review
On the nose: A consistent symphony of medium smells of orange marmalade, rye, vanilla, adzuki beans, leather, cinnamon, cherries, orange peel, toffee and fermenting cherries.
In the mouth: Not as harmonious as on the nose. This is more like a play. First act gives off medium tastes of oranges, vanilla and cinnamon. After those are light tastes of leather, toffee, cherries, rye, adzuki beans and orange peel. A bit rough in the middle and at the end.
Henry Mckenna 10 Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond – review
From barrel #4727. Barreled on Dec 27 2007.
On the nose: Bold scents of leather, tannins and vanilla upfront. Medium scents of cinnamon, toffee and coconut sugar syrup. There’s a quick and light appearance of oranges, dusty wooden furniture, varnish, cloves and pepperiness.
In the mouth: There’s this immediate and bold bite of vanilla. It suddenly becomes milder to give off-tastes of toffee, oranges jelly, leather and cinnamon. These flavors alternate for a bit and once in a while, the heat turns up along with some pepperiness and a flash of light cherries. At the end are light tastes of dusty wooden furniture, more cherries, lemon-flavoured Nerds, orange jam and cloves.
The RR is a very solid Bourbon. There’s nothing to dislike about this. It has very pleasant flavors which any drinker of any experience will enjoy. None of the stereotypical bourbon flavors like vanilla and tannins were dominating. Every flavor was just balanced out. I can see why this is well-beloved. It’s affordable and easy to find. I was thinking of giving this a 6 but I’ll give it a plus 1 due to the affordability.
While I don’t have a bottle from the winning barrel, I can really see why Fred Minnick gave Henry Mckenna 10 a gold medal for San Francisco World Spirits Awards. My experience with regular offerings of single barrel bourbons, like Blanton’s and Fours Roses, is they aren’t any huge differences. I love how this doesn’t have the heat from what you’d expect from a 50% abv spirit. It’s very well rounded and mellow. It hits more like one of those well-made 46% single malts. This started out as a regular bourbon. Vanilla, cinnamon and leather forward. After that first swallow, I realized this is something you have to take your time with. This isn’t something you have as an aperitif and to be paired with a meal. This is your digestif. You drink this as your nightcap. The finish on this is really delightful. This really shines at the finish. The delicate tastes of alternating cherries, lemons and orange jam captivated me.
Since I gave both the same scores, you might be wondering which of the two I’d go for? If you value my opinion that is. I don’t know how much Henry Mckenna 10s cost now, but hopefully, the price hasn’t skyrocketed as of yet. If sourcing and prices aren’t an issue for you, then I’d say get the Henry. But at the same time, just pick up both of these Bourbons. They’re very enjoyable and getting one of each won’t go over $100. If sourcing and prices are an issue for you, you’re not losing out be getting the Russell’s for a good price.
Lead image kindly provided by Total Wine.