They say time flies when you’re having fun, and boy is that true. It’s hard for me to believe it, but my son Eddie is about to celebrate his 35th anniversary at Wild Turkey on June 5th. For more than three decades we have worked side by side here – if you can call it work. I think we enjoy it far too much to call it that.
Back in 1981, when Eddie first told me he wanted to follow in my footsteps, it made me a little worried. It wasn’t because I didn’t think he could do the job, but because I wanted people to treat him fairly. When your dad’s the boss, people start thinking maybe you’re only there because of who your family is. He quickly showed everyone he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, working every job around the distillery until he knew the place inside and out.
Throughout his career he has continued the traditions and values I instilled in him and accomplished much. I felt immense pride watching him create his first Bourbon and, years later, getting inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame. Right now, with Bourbon and Rye more popular than ever, he is in the most prolific period of his career, creating some of the finest premium whiskies I’ve ever tasted. This fall, Wild Turkey will release Eddie’s third limited-edition Bourbon called Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades to commemorate his 35th year at the distillery. With the streak he’s on, I think the best is yet to come.
Funny enough, Eddie first created Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon to celebrate my 45th anniversary and retirement. That was in 1998! Here we are almost 20 years later, and the two of us are still working as Kentucky’s only active father/son master distillers. I guess we just aren’t good enough at golf to retire.
Another great source of pride is my grandson Bruce, Eddie’s eldest son, who entered the family business last year as a brand ambassador for Russell’s Reserve. Bruce is a testament to changing palates. He is getting people excited about Rye again, a spirit that has been sitting in the shadow of Bourbon for far too long.
Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller