Gobble ‘Til You Wobble Phase Five Conclusions

Well, kind people of the internet, it is finished. Closing in nearer to 50 days – I have completed the Gobble Til You Wobble series. We’ve covered the other phases in depth, so this will just be a final round up of the Russell’s Reserve Products with a few short words at the end to bring us home.

This was an incredible phase as part of an incredible project. Thanks to all of those that swapped samples with me, or those that outright donated samples to the cause. I know it seems to some that this may have been a sponsored event, just based on the staggering amount of time I’ve devoted to WT here but this project was not sponsored in any way by WT/Campari, nor were any of the samples sourced or donated from any professional sources. This project is just a glimpse at how incredible our community is, and I’d like to thank everyone for reading, commenting, discussing or helping me bolster the sample count for the entire series. The Network’s best asset is the participants and you all are incredible. You make this place what it is – an absolute pleasure to be a part of.

Now let’s get down to business.


The Bourbons

The Schtick: This is a modern offering from Wild Turkey with the higher entry proof. It is diluted to 110pf and sold as a single barrel offering across the nation. Many stores have been able to do picks of these products, and extra information is available as a result. It is, still, a NAS product, though. I tackled:

  1. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Gallenstein’s – #494, Rank 6
  2. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Davidson’s – #276, Rank 5
  3. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: JB’s – #3073/O/5, Rank 7
  4. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: C+S – #NA/NA/NA, Rank 6
  5. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Binnys – #337/K/5, Rank 7
  6. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Lincoln Road – #2665/T/6, Rank 5
  7. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Lukas – #89/G/5, Rank 8
  8. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Shawan – #2293/O/3, Rank 7
  9. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Westport’s – #16-235/H/3, Rank 5
  10. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Longman and Eagle – #161/G/5, Rank 8
  11. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Bourbon Brigante – #353/K/5, Rank 4
  12. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Liquor Depot – #84/C/3, Rank 5
  13. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: MSL Pick – #16-271/H/5, Rank 6
  14. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Gomer’s – #399/K/5, Rank 4
  15. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Total Beverage – #2448/H/7, Rank 5
  16. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Discount – #15/G/4, Rank 7
  17. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: TPS – #2894/NA/NA, Rank 5
  18. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon: Otto’s – #378/K/5, rank 5

Now, there’s a couple things to look at here. For this phase, we had a really substantial, literal, sample size (heh.). 18 samples, spread over a variety of warehouses, picked by a variety of organizations. Some were stores, some restaurants, some personal picks, etc. As a reminder, all of these were done completely blind and all tasted and reviewed before any details about the dram were revealed. From there, each review was paired with the info, and it was posted. Bourbon and rye were tasted separately, but done by the same process. Furthermore, no non-pick Russell’s Reserve bourbon was reviewed for lack of having one around.

By Warehouse:

A huge item of interest was warehouse location information. So, let’s get to that first. Of the 18 samples, 14 had location information. Keep in mind that this means 4 did not. That’s roughly 22%, so there is a fair amount of uncertainty. With that being said though, here’s the info:

  • Warehouse C: 1 Entries, Min:5, Max:5, [5]
  • Warehouse G: 3 Entries, Min:7, Max:8, [7,8,8]
  • Warehouse H: 3 Entries, Min:5, Max:6, [5,5,6]
  • Warehouse K: 4 Entries, Min:4, Max:7, [4,4,5,7]
  • Warehouse O: 2 Entries, Min:7, Max:7, [7,7]
  • Warehouse T: 1 Entries, Min:5, Max:5, [5]

Alright, so there’s some interesting information here. Warehouses C and T both only had a single representative, but it wasn’t a phenomenal showing. Both garnered 5’s.

Warehouse K had the most representation, with 4 reviews from that location. Coincidentally, though, it had the widest deviation – 2×4 and 1×7. As a reminder, 5 is the median of my scale. So it produced two samples below average, one average and one well above average. Interesting – all were from the 5th floor too. I wonder what, on that floor, affected the barrels. I’d postulate, but there are simply too many variables to make a reasonable, scientific guess.

Moving on to Warehouse H, which had 3 samples. These came from H3, H5, H7. Both the first and third scored 5’s and the middle sample (H5 location) scored a 6. So this seems to be a fairly consistent (based on our small sample size) warehouse.

Warehouse O had two samples, both scoring a 7. That’s pretty impressive. These came from the 3rd and 5th floors. I wonder if they secretly call this Warehouse “The Big O” in the WT backroom’s. We’ll never know.

Finally, the warehouse everyone has been clambering about. Warehouse G had 3 entries, which produced 1×7 and 2×8. This is very impressive and those samples were significantly above average. G4 produced the Rank 7 and G5 produced both rank 8’s. Some may say that G5 is the honey spot for WT RRSiB Bourbon but I’d caution against going full tater and running with that conclusion. While this experiment was pretty big, 18 samples is nothing to sneeze at – it isn’t comprehensive. I haven’t tasted every sample from every barrel. The data doesn’t lie though – G5 was definitely my favorite spot at WT for RRSiB samples to originate from. Pretty impressive. One can only assume what label this Warehouse might earn itself for the less mature among us (yes, I’m in that camp.).

Looking at the line as a whole, though, there are some significant points to take away from this.

The Rankings:

Much like the other WT lines, there has been a pretty wide variety of rankings. They stand as so:

  • Rank 4: 2 Samples (11%)
  • Rank 5: 7 Samples (39%)
  • Rank 6: 3 Samples (17%)
  • Rank 7: 4 Samples (22%)
  • Rank 8: 2 Samples (11%)

Two things stand out, right away. This is definitely not a Gaussian curve. If one was expecting a distribution like that, the number of samples registering as Rank 6 and 7 would likely have been reversed. That, however, is not the case. It is interesting to see some uniformity in the Rank 4 and Rank 8 returns, though. One might be tempted to draw the conclusion that this isn’t super important, but it is quite the opposite. Since the floor of this is only one rank below “Average” this means the ceiling is 3 ranks above “Average”. This is a good skew to have, if you are marketing this product. Having a 10% chance of being slightly below average (some flaws) isn’t too bad, if you have equal chance to perform significantly above average.

Now, I wouldn’t call the presses quite yet though. Call off your marketers, WT. 39% of samples clocked in at “Average”. This isn’t bad at all. But, it’s also not sensational. A Rank 5 is equitable to Buffalo Trace on my scale. There was a big dip down when looking at the Rank 6 (17%) followed by a nice rise when looking at Rank 7 (22%). Price isn’t reflected in my reviews or rankings, but it’s important to note that RRSiB products are fairly expensive compared to many other products, especially my baseline. Buffalo Trace here is $24 (Rank 5) and Wild Turkey 101 2017 is $22 or so (Rank 6). That’s some really tough competition.

Overall, I’d say these rankings are a pretty good showing in general. Only 11% of samples fell below Average ranking, which required some flaws to gain that ranking. 89% of samples scored average or above, with 50% of total samples falling “Above Average” – Rank 6 or higher. Overall, when looking at the above average samples, there was a 1 in 5 chance one of those could be very significantly above average (Rank 8). Slow whistle


Now, let’s look at the ryes. I’ll give my final, conclusive thoughts at the end.

The Ryes:

The Schtick: This is a modern offering from Wild Turkey with the higher entry proof. It is diluted to 104 pf and sold as a single barrel offering across the nation. Many stores have been able to do picks of these products, and extra information is available as a result. It is, still, a NAS product, though. I tackled:

  1. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye: Liquor Barn Series #1 – #16/E/2, Rank 6
  2. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye: Alabama ABC – #29/E/2, Rank 7
  3. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye: Russell’s Family Collection, Liquor Barn Series #3 – #4/E/2, Rank 8
  4. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye: Loch + Key – #40/E/2, Rank 6
  5. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye: Non-Store-Pick – #NA/NA/NA, Rank 7
  6. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye: Russell’s Family Collection, Liquor Barn Series #2 – #2/E/2, Rank 6
  7. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye: Kentucky Bourbon Affair 2017 – Rank 7
  8. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye: Russell’s Family Collection, Liquor Barn Series #1 – #7/E/2, Rank 7

Yowza. That’s a pretty nice showing there, Mr RRSIB Rye.

The Warehouses and Ranks:

Well, this won’t be nearly as sensational as the bourbons – since all of these came from the same Warehouse and floor. I thought this was interesting since the bourbons are all spread out. We know that a particular Russell considers rye to be a fad so I wonder if this is all from the initial showing they laid down? That’s my completely un-professional guess. No doubt, the Ruseell’s have witnessed how popular their RRSiB products are, and will have laid down more rye. I wonder where that is stored? Either way, when it comes of age, I have no doubt we’ll see it come to market. Until then, though, we just have to wait.

Given the simplicity, I ran the numbers anyways.

  • Warehouse E, Floor 2: 7 Entries, Min:6, Max:8 [6,7,8,6,6,7,7]
  • Unknown Warehouse: 1 Entries: Min:7, Max:7 [7]

Now that the ugly math is out of the way, let’s look at those scores.

The rankings I’m seeing are pretty consistent. Whereas the bourbons ranged from 4:8, here we see the range is only 6:8. Sure, this sample size is just a hair under half the size of the previous test, but even then, it is very impressive. The median is a Rank 7 by a significant margin, which is seriously not half bad at all (an “average” rating is a 5).

Some Caveats

So, let’s talk a little about all of the data found in this massive test. Tons of people have told me, either by PM or in comments of my reviews something along the lines of: “I was super on the fence about (insert RRSiB bottle here) and your review lead me to (buy it / pass on it).” Let me first say, I’m flattered that people take my reviews with that sort of weight. It’s great to see that over time, my palate is trusted to either identify a good product, or a poor one. I know tons of people either completely agree with my palate, or completely disagree with it. While some might take offense – I don’t. If you know you like the opposite of my palate, then I am glad! Reviews are monstrously subjective and palate calibration is key. Plain and simple.

Now, that being said, I rated a lot of things pretty high. I also rated some things pretty low. I’ve already started seeing some funny ripples on the facebooks and beyond. So, I’d like to take a moment and urge people to also try things for themselves. Especially the ryes. I loved most of these ryes, because they scratched an itch I have felt need scratching for a long time. I love THH, and I love WhistlePig, but these were generally in between and I loved that. Some might hate that. And at the end of the day, it’s all about knowing what you, the reader, like best. Aka, don’t go buy every single RRSIB bourbon/rye you can find because I rated most highly, without trying them first. You may find the profile isn’t in your wheelhouse at all.

So, with that disclaimer aside, let’s get to my conclusions.

Conclusions

I’ll make this fairly short, because by now, I imagine some of you are asleep on your keyboard/tablet/phone/dog/potato/whatever.

I enjoyed doing the bourbons. There were some sub par offerings, and there were some phenomenal offerings. But, to me personally, when new bottles come to town, I will do my best to try before buy. The variance, determined from my reviewing, is a little high for me to be personally comfortable buying blind.

I enjoyed doing the ryes. They were generally great, to really great. When a new pick comes to town, I’ll probably buy it if it’s from E-2. If it’s from another warehouse/rick, I want to try it. I think it would be super cool to see what difference, if any there is. If there’s no big difference, then I dare say that the golden age of affordable rye is here. I love cask strength rye but I really dug the 52% that the RRSiB rye came in at. Ones palate can grow tired of being bombed by CS all of the time.

Now, since many will rabble about things like “endorsement”, “spam”, “paid promotion” let’s circle back on two points. These conclusions are based on my experience here. I’ve drawn conclusions I feel comfortable sharing based on what I’ve tasted and have led me to decide whether or not I’ll buy on sight. I am not advising you to do the same. We’re all in different positions and circumstances in life. This is where I stand and I’m not suggesting others do the same in this wrap up. But darn that rye was tasty and I’d like more of it.

Official Bourbon Conclusion: Generally Tasty

Official Rye Conclusion: Generally Really Darn Tasty

Well, mr. t8ke, where are we going from here, you ask?

Well, wee laddie, hop up on my knee and let me tell you a story. A story of a creek in the woods, said to be vaguely historically important. A vaguely phallic sounding creek. Well, many moons ago, some single barrel offerings bearing the name of that mildly phallic body of water were downright dreadful. One day, mr. t8ke tried a new store pick and found it to be not too bad. An idea formed – were we approaching a rebirth? To make things more interesting, all of these picks were supposedly the same age, but that was found to be mere lore. Merchants could pick barrels of all ages? 9? 11? 13? 15? 16? You got it, sparky. They’re all out there. And I’ve set out to test a ton of them.

At this point, it should be obvious. I’m shifting my focus to Beam/Suntory and the Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve line of products. It’s impossible to say right now how big that will grow to be, but I have 7 samples and 16 individual picks to work up from. That one will be a scream. However, I think my palate could use a brief vacation. I have some backlog to post. I have some samples to try. I’ve been neglecting r/rum and r/brandy recently and they could use a little hug of attention (seriously people go help contribute to r/brandy). So I’m going to relax, kick back, let my shelf take me where my palate wants to go for a couple weeks, and then it will be time to hit the ground running again. In that time, I will also be archiving all my reviews, getting r/t8kereviews all moved in and comfy so that I can provide day to day review stats/averages/data etc and I’ll be looking into returning to sample swapping for a brief time. There’s a lot of scotch I need to try since I’ve also been neglecting r/scotch pretty badly also.

Again, thank you all. Thank you for reading, for supporting, for discussing and for criticizing. You are why I take the time to do these and it’s always a pleasure to interact with our frequent posters and lurkers all the same. And thanks for putting up with 50 days of turkey themed memes.

Stay cool. I’ll be bach.