I keep getting recommendations for Four Roses bourbon. After now trying the Yellow Label, Small Batch, and now Single Barrel, I can see what the fuss is about. Four Roses excels not at making “the best” bourbon, but at making an affordable range of solid, consistent (actually consistent), and widely-available bourbon. This is the kind of bourbon that you can settle down with, start a life, and stop window shopping for the next big bourbon craze. If you really only have room in your cabinet for one sipping bourbon, you couldn’t go far wrong with something from Four Roses.
I have yet to try either of the Limited Edition bourbons, largely because they’re among the priciest of the current flock of premium American whiskies, and I can’t bring myself to plonk down $80 to $100 for untasted bourbon… even if I could find a bottle on a shelf somewhere before it sells out. I do keep hearing that it’s excellent, however.
The Single Barrel Bourbon from Four Roses is Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and an OBSV recipe, which means 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley. This is their “high rye” recipe. The ‘V’ letter indicates one of their five strains of yeast, which is responsible for a lot of the fruity notes. Four Roses is amazingly upfront about the content of their whisky, and I heartily encourage you to explore their website. The Single Barrel is bottled at an impressive 50% ABV – not quite cask strength, but still able to cause a whopping sizzle on the taste buds. There is no age statement, but the 2004 press release announced that it was “at least” 7 years old.
Four Roses proudly uses only non-GMO corn, which is surprisingly (and expensive!) in this age of mass commodity production of corn. Good on you, Four Roses.
Also – this is adorable – the 50ml glass miniature that I’m tasting has its own tiny little cork. Aww!
Nose: Hot! High rye spices, crushed mint (oh wow I want a julep right now), wood char (which I can’t usually smell), black pepper. There’s a LOT going on in this nose, but the high ABV makes it a challenge to contemplate.
Palate: Light brown sugar. Already I can taste barrel tannin, slightly acerbic. Hot on the tongue, but carries waves of cinnamon red hots, brown sugar cookies, freshly-grated ginger, and white pepper.
Finish: Long. A reprise of the spices from the aroma, along with some cherry lozenge. Fades on the cherry note.
With Water: Water, if possible, makes the nose more spicy, with nuances of nutmeg and allspice. Finishes slightly sweeter. Water definitely helps with the intense burn.
Overall: A big bourbon with a lot to offer. High rye mashbill, and the resulting “spice cabinet” really permeates the experience. If you like baking spices in your whisky, you will LOVE this. Definitely try it with a slug of water, if only to get it down around 46%.