A Night With Jimmy Russell at Chatham’s | Master Distiller of Wild Turkey

September 1, 2016

A lot of my friends already drink bourbon (I mean, we live in Kentucky, so it is pretty much a given. 95% of the world’s bourbon is produced here), but I always like meeting new people and going to events (especially food and bourbon ones), so I came across a group called The Lexington Bourbon Society. I wanted to find a group of like-minded individuals that shares some of the same passions as me. The Lexington Bourbon Society is a bunch of Lexingtonians and friends that love America’s native spirit, which is bourbon. I’m not a member yet, but I plan on paying the membership dues and being one soon (it’s only $100 per year)! Once you become a member, you get lots of discounts to local restaurants and businesses, other perks that are listed on their website, and discounted prices to events. For example, this event in particular was $35 for members and $40 for non-members, but all events are priced differently.

A few weeks ago, I remember being on facebook and saw an event pop up from the Lexington Bourbon Society. Once I saw the event go live and was posted on facebook, I immediately called the restaurant, so I could have one of the reservations. The event was probably up before two minutes, before I called. I wanted to be one of the first, because I knew that there probably would be a limited number of reservations.

My husband would have loved to have went, but he couldn’t, because he had to work. I knew that most likely that I would be going by myself and that I wouldn’t know anyone there, but that was a chance I was willing to take. I’m a pretty outgoing person, so I knew that meeting and talking to people wouldn’t be an issue. Plus, I love meeting new people anyways.

It isn’t every day that you get to meet and hang out with one of the master distillers from one of the bourbon distilleries. The Master Distillers are essentially Kentucky royalty. They are a big deal to the Commonwealth and especially to the world of bourbon. So, when the opportunity had risen to meet Jimmy Russell, Master Distiller of Wild Turkey, I knew I needed to jump on the chance. Jimmy Russell is the longest-tenured active Master Distiller in the world with 60 years experience. Since his first day on the job, which was on September 10, 1954, Wild Turkey has increased production from 80 barrels a day to more than 550 barrels a day (It’s important to remember that bourbon sits in barrels for many, many, many years. For example, Russell’s Reserve is a ten year). Wild Turkey has expanded from one product, Wild Turkey 101, to more than a dozen domestically and internationally. Wild Turkey was also the first to introduce the industry’s first honey bourbon liqueur.

The meet-up was held at Chantham’s on High. They are a restaurant that serves up southern comfort food. This was the first time that I have been there, except for the time that I tried their Peanut Butter Pie at CRAVE back in 2015.


The evening started with an opening cocktail called “Wild Honey Tea,” which was Wild Turkey Honey and Iced Tea. This was absolutely delicious. I think this is the perfect drink to sit outside on your porch and watch the sun go down. Or really, I think it’s perfect for any season. You can’t get much more southern than this.

We chatted and listened to Jimmy talk about bourbon, and he answered any questions that anyone may have had. Plus, he took pictures with people, as well as signing bottles of Wild Turkey products they may have brought in.

We then began the tasting of the bourbons. We tasted Wild Turkey 101, Russell’s Reserve, and Forgiven. Each are completely different with a different flavor profile. It’s also important to note that there are NO additives in bourbon. The flavors come from the mash bill recipe, the amount of time spent aging, the barrels themselves (which have to be brand new white-oak charred barrels), the temperature fluctuations during the aging period, and that’s just a few things that will effect the taste. I’ll be sure to go into more detail about that in my Bourbon 101 or Bourbon Aging Explained post I have planned for sometime in September. Anyways, in my opinion, I think that Russell’s Reserve was the smoothest of the three that we tasted. Wild Turkey 101 is a blend of 6, 7, and 8-year-old bourbon. Russell’s Reserve is a 10-year-old bourbon. Forgiven is a blend of bourbon and rye (78% is from 6-year-old bourbon and 22% is from 4-year-old rye).





For dinner, there was a large buffet made up of the following food:

  • Charcuterie Tray (their sausage and cheese spread was amazing!)
  • Salad with Wild Turkey Honey Vinaigrette
  • Green Beans and Potatoes (country style green beans are my favorite!)
  • Catfish and Remoulade Sauce
  • Wild Turkey Bread Pudding



The food was absolutely amazing. I may or may not have went back and got seconds. Everything was absolutely delicious. I just wanted to eat more and more and more. The catfish was so yummy and full of flavor and it tasted so fresh. If you follow me on instagram, you know I post a lot of food and you know I have mentioned several foods on a regular basis, such as; beer cheese, burgers, pizza, and bread pudding. Well, the bread pudding we had tonight was Wild Turkey Bread Pudding. I’ve mentioned this before, but in Kentucky, not only do we like to drink our bourbon, but we like to use it to cook with and use it in dishes, such as dinner and desserts.

For my fellow Lexingtonians, Chatham’s is on High Street in the location where Ramsey’s used to be. This is a restaurant you definitely want to try, especially if you love southern comfort food.


We were each given a Wild Turkey glass, but I accidentally left mine at the restaurant, and I didn’t realize it, until I had been home for a couple of minutes. By then, it was too late. Sad face. However, I did get Jimmy Russell to sign my bottle of Wild Turkey 101, which will now be a keepsake that we will add to our collection of bourbon bottles. However, this is by far the coolest bottle in our collection, because I actually got to meet him and watch him sign my bottle!

  • Dogvills September 1, 2016 at 4:35 am

    What a great event. All the food looked delicious. My husband would love to attend events like this.

    • Whitney @ Fabulous in Fayette September 1, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      It was a lot of fun! Anytime there is yummy local food and bourbon involved, I’m in!

  • Kait September 1, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    My husband is a big bourbon drinker, so I feel like a trip to Kentucky is in our future at some point! This event seems like such a great time and your pictures are great!

    • Whitney @ Fabulous in Fayette September 1, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      You should! We have the Bourbon Trail that you can do. We also have quite a few other major distilleries and some minor distilleries that aren’t on it that you can visit. Plus, if beer is your thing, we have breweries, as well as vineyards for wine!

  • Di Hickman September 1, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    How fun! We’re not big spirit drinkers but my hubby brews beer. We’ve been to a couple of brewery tours and events so I know how fun it is! Looks like you had a great time!

    • Whitney @ Fabulous in Fayette September 1, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      I’m not a beer person, but we have quite a few breweries here in Lexington! There’s even one restaurants that puts on classes for how to make your own brew at home, which I think is pretty cool!

  • TheMummyToolbox September 1, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Wow this looks amazing – my husband is a bourbon drinker so would have definitely loved this! The buffet looks delicious too ! We are definitely foodies so probably would have come for that :p

  • Kimberly Stroh September 1, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    This looks so yummy. I love to taste different bourbons and pair it with food. Worth checking out!

    • Whitney @ Fabulous in Fayette September 1, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      It was really good!! They have specific bourbon pairing events all the time around here 🙂

  • Maria - Tough Cookie Mommy September 1, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    My husband would have loved this event. He is a connoisseur not only of food but of dark liquor. It is the perfect pairing.

  • Ana De Jesus September 2, 2016 at 5:18 am

    It is great that their bourbons contain no additives especially when many drinks do. This looks tasty.

    • Whitney @ Fabulous in Fayette September 7, 2016 at 1:46 am

      That’s just how they’ve always been made. The only thing that can be added is water. If they is anything added to it besides water, then it isn’t bourbon; it would be considered a whiskey.

  • PennyPincherJenny September 2, 2016 at 8:53 am

    I love a good bourbon! What a fun event to attend, I have always loved learning how they make drinks and the history.

  • Rebecca Bryant September 2, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    what a fun night you had. good food and good people are always a good thing.

  • Cassandra B. @PoweredbyBLING September 2, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Girl, Wild Turkey! Man, does that bring back some memories from my college days! Looks like a great event. Glad you had a great time!

  • Rachel Catherine September 2, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    What a spread! I’m pretty sure I’ve never had Wild Turkey. I’m not sure I would like it. LOL. I’m glad you had fun.

    • Whitney @ Fabulous in Fayette September 7, 2016 at 1:48 am

      The 101 kind of has a “bite” to it. If someone is just beginning to drink bourbon, then I would suggest something at a lower proof and that has less of a bite.

  • So TIPicalMe September 2, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Wow, what a fun experience! It looks like a great time. I’m definitely intrigued by the Wild Honey Tea! Sounds so yummy!

  • Cynthia @craftoflaughter September 3, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    I dont drink Bourbon but it still looks like a fun experience! The buffet looks like it would be worth the trip! HA

  • Roxanne Ferber September 4, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Wow that all looks so delicious! And I bet it pairs really well with the Wild Turkey Bourbon.

  • Chrissy Hme September 5, 2016 at 3:10 am

    Wow, such a cool event. I am sorry you left your glass but that signed bottle sure makes up for it!

    • Whitney @ Fabulous in Fayette September 7, 2016 at 1:50 am

      Definitely not everyday you can get a signature from the man himself. Such a cool event!

  • Whitney @ Fabulous in Fayette September 7, 2016 at 1:47 am

    It was such a great opportunity!!

  • Becca Wilson September 25, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    This looks like it was such a fun event! I could only imagine how much fun that you had.

  • […] for a pop-up tasting for Four Roses with Master Distiller Brent Elliott. Like I mentioned before, when I met Jimmy Russell, it’s not everyday that you get to hang out a Master Distiller from one of the distilleries. […]

  • About Me

    About Me

    Hi, y'all!

    Hey y'all! My name is Whitney, and I'm the founder of Fabulous in Fayette. I've been living in Lexington since 2008. I'm in love with my city of Lexington and love all the amazing local businesses and restaurants. It's seriously one of the best places to live!

    Not to be confused with Fayetteville, North Carolina. Fabulous in Fayette celebrates the fabulous city of Lexington, the great state of Kentucky, and Southern Living. In case you are not from here, Fayette refers to the county where Lexington is located!

    xoxo, Whitney

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