Marketers know which words have the most power to draw eyes and attention. 'Free' is number one, but 'new' is right up there too.
The power of these words is mostly in that they make you look, which causes you to think about the brand, which makes you more likely to buy it, even if the 'news' itself is not particularly compelling to you.
New products introduced under the banner of an existing brand are called line extensions. In addition to other benefits of being new; they tend to get the brand a little more shelf space, a floor display, or a bartender recommendation, things which in themselves will increase sales of the whole line, not just the new item.
This is the strategic foundation underlying much of what is called 'innovation' in the whiskey business today. Case in point: new Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon.
The analysis above is necessary for understanding why this product exists.
Russell's Reserve began in 2001 as a Wild Turkey line extension, named in honor of veteran Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell. The original iteration was 10 years old and 101° proof (50.5% ABV). Soon it was repackaged to something closer to the current look and the proof was cut to 90° (45% ABV). A 90° proof, 6-year-old rye soon followed.
Beginning with release of the rye, the Wild Turkey name disappeared and Russell's Reserve became a brand in its own right. The line was positioned to be a little more contemporary than Wild Turkey, hence the lower proof and milder taste profile. Eddie Russell, Jimmy's son, is responsible for the profile and is the brand's principal spokesperson.
The latest 'innovation' in the line is Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon, which has no age statement (NAS), but is a whopping 110° proof (55% ABV). Another Wild Turkey bourbon, Rare Breed, claims to be 'barrel proof' at 108.2° proof (54.1% ABV), but that is being updated to 111°. About six years ago, Wild Turkey raised its barrel entry proof from 110° to 115°, following an earlier increase from 107°, which accounts for the higher proofs emerging now in mature barrels.
Even at 115°, Wild Turkey has the lowest barrel entry proof of any major bourbon distillery.
Many bourbon enthusiasts still mourn that long-ago proof cut from 101° to 90°. For them, Russell's Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon is a restoration, with a 9 point bonus!
In creating this single barrel line extension, Campari USA has followed what Beam did with Knob Creek Single Barrel earlier this year. Knob Single is 20° higher proof than standard Knob, and Russell's Reserve Single Barrel is 25° higher proof than standard Russell's Reserve Bourbon.
Although the new single barrel is NAS, Campari USA Senior Brand Manager Robin Coupar says the barrels are all eight to nine years old. Russell's Reserve Single Barrel should begin to appear in stores next month at a suggested retail price of $49.99.