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%.
I’ve got a bottle of this recipe at cask strength (61.6%) and an age statement (10 and a half years old) when K&L did a few barrel selections last year. Imagine the Single Barrel’s “spice cabinet” tuned to 11. Very tasty bourbon indeed.
Hi ScotchNoob, Have you ever tried the Knob creek 100 (9 years)? Do you know if the Four roses single barrel is comparable?
thank you! 🙂
I tried a glass of the basic Knob Creek (I don’t think it had an age statement on it back then) a few years ago before I really started to get into bourbon. I remember it being sweet and fruity, with lots of cherry notes. I remember being impressed by its value, but I would wager that the Four Roses Single Barrel and Small Batch products are a little more robust and have a slightly higher level of apparent quality. That said, if you like cherry/fruit notes in bourbon instead of baking spices, you’d probably prefer the Knob Creek.
This is a favorite of mine. One defining characteristic I get out of Four Roses Single Barrel is the really creamy mouthfeel, which I find to be complimentary to the spice cabinet flavor profile. Did you get this as well? I’ve noticed that it tends to develop as the bottle gets some exposure to air.
I hadn’t noticed the body on this one, and now I’m out! I’ll be sure to pay attention to the texture of the next Four Roses I get my hands on.
Have a half bottle and another hoarded, gone in Ontario.
I like the Four Roses single barrel a lot. Definitely my favorite when I want the spiciness of the rye to come through. I alternate between this and a couple others with lesser rye (usually Elijah Craig and Russells Reserve).
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You guys are great please keep me Informed
When I let the Four Roses Single Barrel slide to the sides of my tongue, I get dark chocolate flavors. Anyone else experience this?
Nice review! This really is very good stuff and the barrel strength is even better! I’d love to try the limited edition small batch but in my neck of the woods (Connecticut) it’s selling at my local package store for $700! I love bourbon but I’m not crazy!