Bourbon Industry

Wild Turkey’s Jimmy and Eddie Russell can truly celebrate 101 now

Known as “the buddha of bourbon,” Wild Turkey master distiller Jimmy Russell has been making whiskey for 64 years. Add that to Eddie Russell’s 37 years, and the father and son team now have 101 combined years of distilling experience.
Known as “the buddha of bourbon,” Wild Turkey master distiller Jimmy Russell has been making whiskey for 64 years. Add that to Eddie Russell’s 37 years, and the father and son team now have 101 combined years of distilling experience. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Everybody knows Wild Turkey 101, but now the name has even more resonance.

As of Monday, master distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell, father and son, officially celebrated a combined 101 years of experience making bourbon.

Their grandson and son, respectively, Bruce Russell, released a letter honoring the milestone.

“101 years can best be summarized by what’s in every bottle of Wild Turkey Bourbon,” Bruce Russell said in the letter. “Conviction to do things the right way. Never cutting corners. Befriending and mentoring fellow distillers. And staying true to your craft.”

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Eddie Russell, right, and his father Jimmy Russell, work side by side as “the industry’s only father-son master distillers.” Jimmy still refers to Eddie as “the new guy,” according to grandson Bruce Russell, a brand ambassador for Wild Turkey. Herald-Leader

“Mimmy,” as Jimmy Russell’s grandkids call him, began working at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg in 1954. To him, son Eddie Russell is still “the new guy,” even after 37 years in the business, according to Bruce Russell.

Together, the Russells have grown Wild Turkey’s bourbon line beyond Wild Turkey 101 (the proof of the bourbon in the bottle) to one that fans can’t get enough of. Just this year, Eddie Russell has released three new whiskies: Wild Turkey Longbranch with Matthew McConaughey, Master’s Keep Revival and Russell’s Reserve 2002.

And now Bruce, Wild Turkey National Brand Ambassador, works with father Eddie in the private barrel selection program that lets clients find and bottle their very own Wild Turkey picks.

The gang tries and critique's Matthew McConaughey's Wild Turkey bourbon at the Herald-Leader newsroom.

Actor Matthew McConaughey worked with Wild Turkey and about 250 volunteers to deliver 4,500 turkeys in Lawrenceburg, home of the Wild Turkey distillery. Follow McConaughey, who personally delivered the birds to several houses, where residents were

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