September 10th, 2018 marks 101 combined years of experience for the father/son duo distilling at Wild Turkey. Jimmy and Eddie Russell have collaborated on brands like Wild Turkey 101, Russell’s Reserve, and more, making their family’s mark on the Bourbon industry since 1954. To commemorate the date, their son and grandson Bruce Russell has penned the letter below. From all of us at The Bourbon Review, here’s to many more years of fantastic bourbon.
For Wild Turkey, “101” has always held a special significance. It’s the hallmark Bourbon of the Wild Turkey portfolio, and the whiskey that my father and grandfather have spent their careers perfecting. Fans of our Bourbon have raised many a glass of Wild Turkey 101 to celebrate life’s many milestones, and today marks a milestone that makes me proud to share the Russell name with my father Eddie Russell and my granddad Jimmy Russell (or “Mimmy” as his grandkids call him). This month – September 10th to be exact – “101” takes on a new meaning as Jimmy and Eddie celebrate their combined 101 years of Bourbon industry experience – a touching homage to the Bourbon that put dad and Mimmy on the map.
The Russell legacy began in earnest in 1954 when Jimmy set his sights on employment at the Wild Turkey Distillery. Bourbon was already in Mimmy’s blood as a born and bred Kentucky boy with his forefathers before him working in the trade. But, you don’t accumulate 64 years of experience by accident. Many know Mimmy as one of the hardest-working, most passionate, loyal folks in the business. He always says “the day it becomes work, I’ll retire.”
With 37 years under his belt, Mimmy still calls dad “the new guy.” What was supposed to be a fun summer gig has turned into a career that rivals any other distiller. Since that fated summer in 1981, dad has built a tremendous legacy all his own. This year alone, he’s released three new whiskies that are taking the Bourbon category by storm – Wild Turkey Longbranch, Master’s Keep Revival and Russell’s Reserve 2002. Dad has spent much of the year on the road – traversing a similar path to Mimmy before him but with a few farther flung destinations along the way.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed working with dad on the Private Barrel Program. The distillery is our second home, and it’s an honor to follow in his and Mimmy’s footsteps creating relationships with bartenders, Wild Turkey fans, customers and fellow distillery employees.
101 years can best be summarized by what’s in every bottle of Wild Turkey Bourbon. Conviction to do things the right way. Never cutting corners. Befriending and mentoring fellow distillers. And staying true to your craft.
You’ve been an important part of the extended Wild Turkey family, so please join me in congratulating Mimmy and dad on their incredible journey to 101 years @WildTurkey.
– Bruce Russell
National Ambassador, Wild Turkey Distilling Co