Review: Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

Four Roses SB 2.jpg
Virgin Charred Oak
60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Distiller Four Roses (Lawrenceburg, Kentucky)

This product is bottled as a single barrel – that is, each bottle is bottled from spirit which was only contained in one single barrel over the course of its againg (bottled by hand, in accordance with single barrel regulations), from the OBSV recipe of Four Roses (Four Roses utilizes a total of 10 different recipes). OBSV is made with their “B” high rye mashbill – 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5 % malted barley combined with their “V” yeast, which is supposed to contribute “delicate fruitiness” to the bourbon. As the bourbon is from a single barrel, each barrel will be a little different – but distilleries work hard to keep the quality and profile consistent.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Vanilla, dried apricot, molasses, orange peel, vanilla, caramel, coconut, anise, and a bit of a perfumed floral quality as well. Dense, complex, but still quite elegant. Dried cranberries and currants come through as well, and some oak and slight earthiness emerge as well with some time. Caramel, menthol, burnt toffee, cinnamon, Very pleasing – well balanced and complex.

Taste: The rye surprises, coming out in a larger proportional volume than I had expected from the nose. Quite sharp, with the rye coming out quite strongly but with a rich fruity background which eventually gives way to dried fruits and then oak and dried corn. It is very lightly tannic too. The 50% ABV makes this one a bit hot in places at times. The corn is also so distinct in this one, and it is very delicious – like the rich smell of dried corn cobs. A bit of cola and pineapple too. I always like my bourbons in the fall for that reason – the dried apricot, corn, and earthiness are quite reminiscent of fall and this one certainly has enough warmth to deal well with cold fall weather.

Finish: There’s a bit too much sweetness here, but overall the oak, corn, and earthiness continue on. I also get orange notes here as well, and some baked apple and pear notes as well emerge with time. There’s a bit of spicy grassiness from the rye, too, though I struggle to identify specific spices beyond their sensation. I find the finish a bit lighter than I expected on the palate too. In the end, the corn seems to win out – and that note is of very high quality.

I must say, the nose was fabulous on this bottle, and I really liked it. Beyond that, it is quite delicious though I find the palate and the finish don’t quite live up to the nose. I think, at least in the regular four roses family, that I prefer Four Roses Small Batch – but this one is still very nice, and really it might depend more on mood than anything else. I quite like all of the four roses products- the yellow label, the small batch, and this one – all have very nice subtlety and the way the grains – the corn particularly – shines through is very nice. This one has a bit more flavour than the other two, with some more spice particularly, and it is not as sweet.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High (based on $46)

Review (2017)

  • Batch: NN 81-1H

  • Bottling Code: 1150 019160130

  • Bottling Date: 2016

The nose has cherry, rich grain, dry rye spice, dried apricot, prune, oak, coconut, anise seed, mazipan, potpourri, cardamom, and salsa. The palate is pretty easy – lots of corn, dry spiciness, oak, cherry, and a good bit of rye. Slightly tannic. The salsa note is interesting. The finish has anise seed, mixed baking spices, with oiliness that develops with some dried pineapple. Lots of clove, and fresh fennel...the dense, spicy, grainy feel of the palate is terrific.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High (based on $46)