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Russell’s Reserve 6 vs Whistlepig Piggyback: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Russell’s Reserve 6 vs Whistlepig Piggyback in this in-depth comparison and decide which Rye Whiskey is better for You!

Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye

NoseCaramel, vanilla, rye spice
PalateRye spice, vanilla, charred oak
FinishOak spice, rye spice, vanilla.
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toRussell’s 10, Wild Turkey 101 Rye

On the nose it smells like a cake with vanilla frosting and a drizzle of rye spice.

In the mouth there is a pinch of rye spice/pepper up-front, along vanilla, the Wild Turkey charred oak note and a smooth creamy feel to it.

Russell’s 6 has very little burn or in fact any sensation in the back of the mouth. Little chest warmth for a 90 proof whiskey, quite smooth but a bit bland, TBH.

Flavor is closer to a high-rye bourbon such as Bulleit than many other rye whiskeys in the market lacking any wow factor. A bit spicy in the finish but overall the Russell’s 6 is not very assertive.

Russell’s 6 is not bad but does not have the depth and complexity of other ryes around this price range. So this is a hard one for me to recommend.

The Wild Turkey 101 makes a better option and if you want to consider further options read my roundup with the best cheap Rye Whiskeys where you can find several better alternatives.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Russell’s Reserve 6:

  • Aged for 6 years in the same deep charred oak casks.
  • After the spirit has matured for 6 years, the Russells hand-select individual casks of whiskey to marry together.
  • The mash bill is comprised of 51% rye, 37% corn and 12% malted barley making it a “barely legal” rye whiskey.
  • Awarded with Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
  • Earned a score of 96-100 points from Wine Enthusiast.

Whistlepig Piggyback

NoseCaramel, rye spice, anise, mint
PalateRye spice, apple, caramel, cardamom
FinishShort, rye spice, old leather
Alcohol content96.56 proof (48.28% ABV)
How to drinkCocktails
Similar toMichter’s Rye Whiskey

The Piggyback is one of the few whiskeys made from a mash 100% rye and bottled at 96.56 proof, honoring the year 1956 in which the late master distiller Dave Pickerell was born.

The Piggyback is targeted for mixing in cocktails, at its current price is right at the top end of what I’m comfortable spending on a mixer making me look into other alternatives.

Even the shape of the bottle is designed to be easier for bartenders to handle.

The nose is sweet with anise and signature rye whiskey mint hints.

The body is a bit thin, quite spicy with hints of apples and butterscotch. The finish shows spice that dissipates quickly and a bit warm.

This whiskey certainly gets better better when served rocks as it becomes less spicy and the warmth gets tuned-down.

Not blown away by the Piggyback by any stretch, but it is certainly a pleasing and decent rye nonetheless.

If you are curious about trying an 100% rye whiskey try the Alberta Premium which is crafted at the same distillery as the Piggyback and offered at a deep discount.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Whistlepig Piggyback:

  • Aged for 6 years.
  • Earned 93 Points from the Wine Enthusiast.
  • The pig that decors the bottle is not wearing the usual WhistlePig top hat, but a Stetson.
  • This whiskey is crafted in Canada and bottled in Vermont.

Russell’s 6 vs Piggyback: Price comparison

Price are approximate and stated in USD:

Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye$33
Whistlepig Piggyback$40

Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye vs Whistlepig Piggyback: Which is better?

The Piggyback has more taste

WhiskeyRussell’s 6Piggyback
  • The Piggyback is an interesting pour as there are not many whiskeys made exclusively using rye.
  • As a general rule I never spend more than $30 in a spirit to make cocktails but if you want to add a deep rye spice note try the Piggyback and it will add a nice kick to your Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
  • The Russell’s 6 is not bad, but is not even better than its Wild Turkey’s siblings and it pretty much tastes like a spicy bourbon.
  • We must recognize that Wild Turkey has nailed bourbon but its rye whiskeys are not that good.

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