Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Wild Turkey Wrap Up - Jimmy & Eddie Russell's Aus Tour

The Grain Bar, Sydney hosting Jimmy & Eddie Russel
The Father & Son Master Distillers of Wild Turkey , Jimmy Russell & Eddie Russell, have been to old Sydney town. I am sure there was few bourbon appreciators in Australia that did not hear the thunder of these big guns rumbling into town.

Through just over a week or so Jimmy and Eddie held well over a couple of handfuls of events for both PR and public to press the good word in Kentucky Bourbon in both Sydney to Melbourne. Yes it is a pity they did not have more time to get all around all of Australia but I am happy they at least got my neck of the woods.

Whisky and turkey everywhere
Just after Jimmy Russell’s arrival I had the opportunity sit down for a one on one interview for just over an hour at the Campari HQ in North Sydney. It was a great opportunity and I learnt a good deal of things from the Master Distiller. To keep this write up as short as possible you may read more about this interview in full with questions and answers over at my Sydney whisky appreciation business Dramnation's website: An Interview With Jimmy Russell. At the time Eddie was not available with duties calling in Melbourne for Whisky Live but I had several additional chances to speak in the coming days.

The following week I saw Jimmy & Eddie again for the official PR launch of the tour at The Grain Bar, Four Seasons Sydney. During this event we enjoyed the spectacle of father & son working their magic. Moving through the crowd Jimmy & Eddie were shaking hands and chatting to complete strangers like they were old friends. Jimmy & Eddie both emphasised the point that it is people that make the whisky and that their market (you and I) are their most important focus. There was no shortage of Russell time that was for sure.

Eddie and Jimmy Russell presenting at The Grain Bar, Sydney
This event was also a launching platform to see both the new Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel and the Wild Turkey Master’s Keep entering our market. The Single Barrel is a great addition to the Russell’s Reserve Family delivery a rich vanilla body sitting close to the flagship profile. Chewy, sweet, decadent and affordable.

The Master’s Keep on the other hand is a limited release of a 17 year old aged bourbon created by Eddie Russell under the watchful eye of his father. This will not a be a permeant line with Wild Turkey and has been drawn from stocks of whiskey that were stored in brick warehouses. Jimmy & Eddie had told me the story of how Wild Turkey was running out of storage pre the new warehouses being built so they had to store a good quantity of barrels in these older brick warehouses. Due to the brick insulation the barrels were not ageing as fast or to the profile needed for any of the Wild Turkey expressions. As they sat longer and longer they developed more and more mellow wood characteristics. Jimmy had mentioned many a time about how he does see a need for Wild Turkey bourbon needing to display obvious intense wood characteristics which caused a problem with what to do with these longer aged barrels. Eddie would chuckle every time Jimmy spoke about aged bourbon while commenting heartedly about how he was so lucky to have gotten this past his father at all. Both parties had moments of jovial eye rolling during this discussion while cheerfully laughing at the situation.

Some of the action including whisky bloggers
Later that week on the 29th July, 2015 we saw Jimmy & Eddie return to host a public event aimed solely at connecting with the consumer market. The event titled “Meet The Masters” saw individuals like myself enter a competition online by submitting reasons why we should meet the masters. I was lucky enough to win these tickets well before being asked to interview Jimmy or to attend the Grain Bar launch so I was pretty stoked just be part of the audience for a change. The event was held in the upper floor of the The Argyle in The Rocks, Sydney and I arrived super early (as always) to scope out the scene and get a good spot.

On arrival we were generously handed a bottle of Russell’s Reserve to have personally signed by Jimmy & Eddie. In many cases one bottle was not enough as fans arrived hauling wheeler luggage bags packed with Wild Turkey paraphernalia. My jaw dropped at some of the things being pulled out. Yeah I thought, this is what this is all about for these guys. Jimmy had noted to me earlier in the week that these events, the ones for the fans and consumers are what they are here for. “They are the most important people” Jimmy had said. Latter that night in speaking with Eddie again he had also said “We love these people. This is what Wild Turkey is all about. We have all the time in the world for these people”. To see the smiles on peoples faces as the audience got to shake the hand of the maker was pure gold. The Meet The Masters events were held in both Sydney and Melbourne.

Meet The Masters activities
Many have said this may be Jimmy’s last global tour as Eddie takes over the rein’s as Master Distiller at Wild Turkey. This maybe the case but I cannot recall hearing any comment like that coming from Jimmy’s mouth or from Eddie. From what others have said about Jimmy including my own experience I think it would be almost impossible to stop Jimmy from getting out there and mingling with the crowd. This father and son team clearly are enjoying the experience working together and I hope it continues for some time to come. In either case I am so glad to have had such a great time meeting these lads over those several days.

Thanks to Wild Turkey Australia, Campari Australia, and Trish Nicol Agency for putting on a great show.

The Baron.

D.T.W.C. was invited as a guest these events. All views and opinions are our own unless otherwise stated.