- By Mark Fisher
The Ohio Division of Liquor Control is again teaming up with Russell’s Reserve Bourbon for a special release in the Buckeye state, but this time, the bourbon will be even more limited — and much more expensive.
It is also, according to division officials, one of the most sought-after vintage bourbon releases of the year, the Russell’s Reserve 2002. There will be a scant 50 bottles available for the entire state, and the retail price will be $249.99.
Those wishing to score a bottle of the 114.6-proof elixir will have to attend what the division of liquor control is calling a “free raffle event,” to be held starting at 6 p.m. next Tuesday, Sept. 18, at the Hills Market, 7860 Olentangy River Road in north Columbus, near Worthington.
There is a limit of one raffle entry per person, and, of course, buyers must be present to purchase the bottle if their raffle ticket is selected for the opportunity to purchase one of the bottles. Entries for the raffle will be collected for 90 minutes, and at 7:30 p.m., the winning names for the opportunity to purchase the bourbon will be drawn.
Yes, buyers must be 21 or over and have valid ID.
The 2002 “vintage” of Russell’s Reserve 2002 will be the first barrel-proof Russell’s Reserve ever released, and is a follow-up to the highly regarded Russell's Reserve 1998, division officials said in a release.
>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Special-release bourbon coming to a select few local liquor stores
On June 15, seven Ohio state liquor-agency stores sold bottles of a special Russell’s Reserve barrel release for $55 a fifth (750 milliliters). The bottles sold out quickly. A similar release of a special Maker’s Mark bourbon in August was even more limited; the Arrow Wine & Spirits on Lyons Road in Washington Twp. was the only state liquor-agency store in the southern half of Ohio to be a part of that release, and its bottles sold out in seven minutes.
The demand for this luxury bourbon, despite its higher cost, is likely to greatly exceed supply. With that in mind, several other limited bourbons will be available for purchase at the Columbus Hills Market store on the evening of the raffle release, including Masters Keep 17 Year, Masters Keep Revival and Masters Keep Decades, as well single barrel selections of Russell’s Reserve Bourbon and Rye, and the Russell’s Reserve 10 Year, division officials said.
Here’s what liquor-control officials had to say about the 2002 Russell’s Reserve:
“Master Distiller Eddie Russell spent years searching amongst the more than half a million barrels in his rickhouses for the perfect follow-up to the highly sought after Russell’s Reserve 1998. What he found was an exquisite batch, distilled in 2002 and laid to rest in the historic Camp Nelson rickhouses. These barrels sat quietly for 15 long years, aging until they reached peak maturity. Russell’s Reserve is proud to introduce their first non-chill-filtered barrel-proof bourbon. At 114.6 proof, it delivers the full Russell’s Reserve experience and embodies the Russell’s personal expression of what great bourbon can be.”
Under the direction of Superintendent Jim Canepa, the Ohio Division of Liquor Control has been upping Ohio’s game in sales of spirits, with an increasing focus on educating consumers about craft spirits and adding new stores in under-served areas. The division recently awarded contracts for new liquor-agency stores in south Centerville and Mason.