Four Roses Single Barrel
Four Roses Single Barrel
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Warehouse #DN, Barrel #87-1R
Aged 9 yrs 1 mo, Bottled in February 2014
Private Barrel from J’s Bottle Shop in Athens, GA
Unless you have been living under a rock (or you just don’t give a shit at all about bourbon or drinking or happiness), you are probably familiar with Four Roses Distillery. Four Roses Small Batch is a bourbon that is on the shelf in just about every respectable bar in the USA at this point I’d guess. What you may not know is that the folks at Four Roses are doing some awesome, crazy, experimental stuff, and will probably be blowing our minds for years to come.
Right now Four Roses has ten different recipes throughout all their barrels (at least the ones we know about), each with a different taste. I don’t know if any other distillery is working with that much variety. This standard single barrel comes from an OBSV barrel, but they have other limited edition releases from their other recipe barrels. The Four Roses website has a key for what exactly those funny letter combinations mean:
O = Designates produced at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY.
E = The mashbill that is 75% corn, 20% rye, 5% malted barley.
B = The mashbill that is 60% corn, 35% rye, 5% malted barley.
S = Designates straight whiskey distillation.
V/K/O/Q/F = Yeast strain used to create flavor characteristics.
So this bottle has the higher rye mash bill, and the “V” yeast strain. Here is how Four Roses describes the differences in the flavors produced by their yeast strains:
V – Delicate Fruitiness
K – Slight Spice
O – Rich Fruitiness
Q – Floral Essence
F – Herbal Essence
So we’ve got two different mash bills, one with higher rye content than the other, and five different yeasts, making ten different recipes total. If you ask Jim Rutledge, Four Roses Master Distiller, I’m sure he would tell you “YEAST MATTERS.” Any beer brewer will tell you the same thing, but I think many whiskey drinkers don’t think about yeast when it comes to their drink. You have to remember that before whiskey is distilled into whiskey, it is essentially uncarbonated beer. I really appreciate that Four Roses is bringing about consciousness of the importance of yeast in the final product of whiskey. They are at the forefront of this movement, but I expect other distilleries will follow suit soon, making bourbons with a wide variety of yeast strains.
Though made with the “Delicate Fruitiness” yeast strain, the first thing I think when I sniff this bourbon is not fruit, but MAPLE SYRUP. In ya face. It’s very up front, but the fruit is definitely there too, along with faint cinnamon. Although 100 proof, this is one of the most mellow and smooth tasting whiskeys I’ve had. It’s got a nice fruity, dark cherry note on the palate, with a bit of vanilla, but it’s not cloying at all like some bourbons can be. The spice from the rye comes through, but again overall it’s super smooth and mellow, and it finishes woody and so mellow that is seems short, but really it lingers, it’s just super chill.
This is an easy drinking whiskey, one that I drink neat, though with a big ol’ rock in it it is nice on a hot summer day, I can attest to that. That’s what I like about a 100+ proof whiskey–you can add a big cube of ice and it doesn’t water down the flavor. Anything below 100 proof I typically prefer straight, but experiment and drink it how you like it. Overall I will say that I prefer the standard Four Roses Small Batch to this single barrel. I’ll be reviewing the Small Batch soon–a great everyone-must-have-in-their-home bourbon. However, for some reason right now the Small Batch and the Single Barrel are the same price in many locations, so definitely give this a try before it starts creeping towards $40 a bottle, which I expect it will do.
Rating: 8.1 / 10
Bought at J’s Bottle Shop in Athens, GA for $29.99