Four Roses SiB Barrel Proof
Four Roses Single Barrel (Barrel Strength!)
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Warehouse QS, Barrel 88-3J
Decatur Package Store Private Barrel #3
Aged 9 Years 4 Mo
Four Roses Recipe: OBSK
It seems that the Private Barrel trend is on the rise…I’m seeing more and more stores with single barrel bottlings that they selected and purchased for resale. The way it typically works is a store is offered between 5-10 barrels to taste (normally small tasting bottles are sent to them, but the industrious store owner could also do this at the distillery itself), they then choose their favorite, purchase the entire barrel (depending on the age and proof of bottling, a barrel can give you around 150-250 bottles, the huge variation due to evaporation throughout the years), and the distillery bottles it or has it bottled for them. They then put their store stamp on it and sell it as a private barrel selection. What’s interesting is that you often end up with a brand like Buffalo Trace (which is normally made in larger batches mixing many different barrels to obtain the exact flavor profile we’ve come to expect from that bottle) on the shelf that looks like a normal bottle of Buffalo Trace but for the sticker which indicates it as a private barrel. So you end up with a Single Barrel product in a Small Batch bottle. It can be confusing to the customer for sure. I can only assume (because I can’t find any real info on this) that the barrels they are offering in these programs are barrels that normally would be used to pair with other barrels to make the normal batch for that brand, so theoretically they share some of the same flavors with the final product. I honestly don’t know, but I can speak from experience that in almost all cases I have found these private barrel bottlings to be a step above the normal product, for whatever reason, even though I often prefer Small Batch bourbons to Single Barrels (in fact, I prefer the Four Roses Small Batch to the normal release Four Roses Single Barrels that I’ve tried). So all in all, I’m a fan of the private barrel programs and look forward to trying some more.
This Four Roses Single Barrel Barrel Strength private barrel selection from Decatur Package Store is no exception, in fact (spoiler alert) it’s my favorite bourbon I’ve ever tasted, and I do not say that lightly. In general I’m a fan of Four Roses and what they do, but this bottle has absolutely blown me away and taken my respect for this company to great new heights. No, I’ve never had Pappy, and I’ve never had George T. Stagg, so maybe one of those bottles will take the prize, but for now I’m giving it to this bottle.
This is the OBSK recipe, the B indicating the high rye mash bill, and the K indicating the yeast strain which they describe flavor-wise as “slight spice.”
The nose on this bourbon is fucking ridiculous. Holy cow. Cherry cola, red grapes, vanilla, oak, brown sugar, grass. It’s all very bright, ripe, not dark, leathery, and dusty like some bourbons (I like this profile too, but it’s just not here). Tasting this is heavenly, assuming in heaven you just drink the best bourbon in the world all day. I can’t believe how smooth it is at this proof, I don’t even feel the need to add water at all. The oak is definitely there, white pepper from the high-rye, but it’s not as spicy as the mash bill and yeast strain suggest, except on the finish. It’s grainy and kinda dry, and surprisingly there is some of that dusty, leathery, old barn thing going on in the palate that was just not there in the nose. The nose is deceptively sweet, a happy trick.
At the end of the glass, I tried adding some water to see if anything changed, and I have to say it did not hold up well to the water. The flavors closed up instead of opening. Some bourbons just shouldn’t have anything added to them–this is one. Although my girlfriend made a Manhattan with this because she thought it was a cheap bottle (I nearly cried!) and she said it was the best Manhattan she’s ever had in her life.
Rating 9.7 / 10
Received as a birthday present from my amazing bosses (but I happen to know they bought it at Decatur Package Store in Decatur, GA for $59.99!)