Last night I attended a Wild Turkey bourbon dinner at Equus restaurant here in Louisville. It was a great dinner featuring cocktails made with Wild Turkey by the bar manager, Joy Perrine. The guest speakers were Jimmy and Eddy Russell and they were well received by the moderately large crowd attending the dinner.
There are several things I found interesting about last night's talk by the Russell's. The first is that you could almost sense that Jimmy was passing the baton to his son. Eddy had a very large part of the verbal presentation and by the way, he is just as personable as his father and will do fine when Jimmy does finally retire. The next thing was the way that Eddy took the responsabilty for the 90 proof Russell's Reserve. His story goes that the 101 proof products are Jimmy's products and will forever be associated with his father. He wanted a product that could be his stamp on the Wild Turkey brand and that is why they changed the package and lowered the proof. He thinks the lower proof does not have the fire of 101 and still has great flavor.
Now one thing I will say is that I have been dealing with Master Distillers for 20 years or so and you have to take everything they say with a grain of salt. The fact that Eddy is saying this could be because that is the marketing position Wild Turkey wants him to take and he does want to keep his job. My personal feelings are that there is more than a grain of truth in this and Eddy does want to make a mark of his own, which is a tough job when your predecessor and father is Jimmy Russell.
I did ask Eddy a question that I was interesting. I mentioned the quote of Preston Van Winkle in here book about Julian getting to go to Paris and he gets to go to Kansas City and Jimmy was quick to point out that Eddy was in Florida last winter while he was working in Buffalo. It does seem that Jimmy treats his son better than Julian does when it comes to travel schedules!
The ended early for me. I had been out till midnight the night before and was falling asleep on my feet so to speak, so as soon as desert was served, I excused myself and said my farewells and left. It was a great diner with wonderfull food and fantastic cocktails with entertaining and informative speakers.
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873