Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller of Wild Turkey, is the last of what Fred Noe refers to as the “Elder Statesmen” of the bourbon industry. The other two, of course, were the late Booker Noe and Elmer T. Lee. Fred Noe credits these three men with the current boom in the bourbon industry. It was because of their hard work and dedication to going out to meet with bourbon drinkers that people began to care where their bourbon came from. Thirty years ago, most bourbon drinkers didn’t care what mash bill was in the bottle they were drinking, what yeast strain produced it, or where the water came from. Now there’s a whole generation of “bourbon geeks” who can rattle off this information at will. That’s because of those three men.
Fred Minnick recently asked Jimmy Russell how long he thought bourbon would continue to gain popularity. Jimmy’s response was, “I hope forever, or we’re gonna have a lot of barrels to get rid of!” He went on to talk about how in the past bourbon drinkers were typically older white Southern men, whereas now everybody is drinking bourbon. This is, again, because of the work he did in years past promoting the spirit and getting customers interested in what went into the making of each bottle.
If you’re even remotely interested in bourbon, take every opportunity to meet the legends. Next Thursday, March 13th at 6:30 p.m., Sidebar is hosting a 60th Anniversary Wild Turkey Dinner for Jimmy Russell to celebrate his 60th year with the distillery. Reservations are $60 per person, and the menu is especially tempting. Each course features a different Wild Turkey product along with such delicious menu items as Bourbon Butternut Squash Soup and Wild Mushroom Bacon Jam Stuffed Chicken Breast with Bourbon Mustard Cream. A different Wild Turkey bourbon or rye is paired with each course.
Reservations can be made by calling Sidebar at (502) 384-1600.
Photos Courtesy of Wild Turkey's Facebook Page