Four Roses

Review: Four Roses Private Selection Single Barrel (OESQ) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Four Roses OESQ 2.jpg
ABV
61.1%
Aging
9 years, 1 months; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Distiller Four Roses (Lawrenceburg, Kentucky)

Some of the best bourbon I’ve ever had was a set of Four Roses single barrels from 2013 and 2014, all around 11-12 years. They can still be found without too much difficulty, but the ones I’ve seen have dropped a few years in age, sadly, since they were about perfect at 11-12 years


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Warehouse S (North), Rick 4, 5th level, Barrel Q

  • Bottling Code: 150213016 1238

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Prunes, dried roses, rich corn, fruity rye, grape soda, light earthiness. Vanilla, toasted oak, and rich dulce de leche grow with time. The palate has good bite with white grape, spicy tobacco, oak, and potpourri. A slight let-down after the nose. Rosehips and oak on the finish. A nice bourbon, and very enjoyable at 61.1%, but lacks complexity and balance to merit the high marks I’ve given these single barrels in the past.

 

Not as floral as I expected, but I guess I’ve been having whiskies like Collingwood Double Oaked recently, which is floral off the charts. But, it’s a single cask, so I’d like to see a stellar cask using this yeast.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low (based on $125)


Review: High West American Prairie Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
New Charred Oak; 2, 6, and 13 yrs old
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Multiple (USA)

This whiskey is a blend of a 2 year old straight bourbon from MGP (Indiana), and a 6 and 13 year old straight bourbon from Four Roses (Kentucky) of the B recipe (60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Malted Barley). 10% of proceeds from the bottles goes to the American Prairie Foundation which builds wildlife preserves.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 3

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

The nose is fruity and spicy with quite a lot of rye in the mix. Apples, peaches, oak, stewed fruit, mint, plums, tobacco leaf, and some hot spice like white pepper. Dry, fresh oaky tones grow with time – vanilla and buttery notes too. An interesting nose – complex compared to the typical bourbon. The taste is sweet, with lots of broad grain character – lots of corn, dried apricot, dried rose petals, mint, fennel seed – finishes on the side of stone fruit with light spices, like fennel and white pepper, and light tannin from the oak. The spicy and dry interplay on the finish is very nice. Slightly rough, with the younger components making their say.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. It isn’t expensive, so it sits in the mid-range in terms of what you get flavour-wise.


Review: Four Roses Private Selection Single Barrel (OESV) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Four Roses PS OESV.jpg
ABV
60.1%
Aging
11 years, 9 months; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Distiller Four Roses (Lawrenceburg, Kentucky)

Another unbelievable single barrel from Four Roses, straight from the barrel...The barrel was hand selected by Liquor Barn.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Warehouse F (South), Rick 6, 3rd level, Barrel L

  • Bottling Code: 42 21 182 13 10:43

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Very oaky. Lots of corn, grain, pineapple, charry. Some spice comes in too. Dried pineapple, dried fruits, caramel. The palate is dry, driven by dry oak and nutmeg. It is gorgeous, in fact, on the palate. At CS, it has a really nice effect – a very nice bourbon. The finish is nice – creamy, dry and full of brown cardamom and oak. Overall, oaky, big, integrated, with a blistering finish that keeps on delivering...awesome.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very High (based on $53)


Review: Four Roses Private Selection Single Barrel (OESK) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Four Roses PS OESK 2.jpg
ABV
60.5%
Aging
12 years, 4 months; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Distiller Four Roses (Lawrenceburg, Kentucky)

Another unbelievable single barrel from Four Roses, straight from the barrel...The barrel was hand selected by Jim Rutledge for the distillery store.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Warehouse V (East), Rick 24, 3rd level, Barrel P

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Oaky, spicy, corny. This feels very much like a stereotypical borubon. Cherry, lightly nutty – and very dnse at cask strength. This goes down very easy...corn, rich, vanilla, sharp spice, and lots of beautiful vanilla and oak. Granola, dense coconut oil, hazlenut oil...dense, oaky, grainy finish. Drying spice (brown cardamom, clove, nutmeg). And yet still so creamy and rich...

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Very High (based on $71)

 


Review: Four Roses Private Selection Single Barrel (OESF) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Four Roses PS OESF 2.jpg
ABV
56.9%
Aging
10 years, 10 months; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Distiller Four Roses (Lawrenceburg, Kentucky)

This is perhaps my favorite bourbon ever. It was sourced by MS Walker, the owner of a small and terrific whisky shop in Boston. As much as Four Roses talks of Seagrams as the destroyer of their brand (fair enough) and producer of "rotgut" whisky - much of the DNA of Four Roses, indeed, what makes Four Roses great - is because of Seagrams. The yeasts at Four Roses came from Seagram - they combined yeasts from various distilleries so that more variables could be used to fine tune blends (indeed, 10 recipes at Four Roses). Without this blending mindset, it's unlikely that Four Roses would even be using multiple yeasts. Additionally, Four Roses uses single story warehouses - with less variability in temperature, and, thus, aging climates - useful for blends where consistency is key!


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Warehouse G (West), Rick 48, 2nd level, Barrel I

  • Bottling Code:42 22 312 14 15:13

  • Bottling Date: 2015

This is an absolutely unbelievable bourbon. It really opens up with water. Very sweet, delicate, elegant, integrated – and a rich, rich nose. Caramel, marshmallows, macadamias, mint, orange candies, Banana, and strawberry marshmallows. Gorgeous. The palate has milk chocolate truffles, smoke, and lots of pear, mint, and lightly tannic. The finish has pear, strawberry mashmallows.

The reason bourbon typically doesn’t get quite as high ratings relative to my enjoyment of it is that I just find it isn’t as complex because it’s dominated by oak. Some are more complex than others – and here is a bourbon which is that way – and perfectly so. Really opens with time, and a „wow” whisky.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation). I think the best bourbon I’ve ever tasted.

Value: Very high, for just 80$.


Review: Four Roses Private Selection Single Barrel (OBSO) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Four Roses PS OBSO 2.jpg
ABV
55.0%
Aging
10 years, 9 months; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Distiller Four Roses (Lawrenceburg, Kentucky)

Four Roses makes some of my favorite bourbon. This, OBSO, is described as the distillery as having a rich fruit characteristic and is one of the four components of Four Roses Small Batch. This barrel was selected by Jim Rutledge for the distillery store.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Warehouse B (North), Rick 4, 1st level, Barrel T

  • Bottling Code:42 21 181 13 00:07

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Quite fruity, lots of peach, apricot, and quite rich. Candied orange, dried peach, apricot, mint, oak, creamy toffee, cherry, and pineapple. The palate is full of clean oak, rich corn, anise (like a cocktail bitter in spiciness), and celery. Lots of dry spice, corn, light fruit, and light oiliness. The finish has light spice, light fruit (pineapple), and nice oak.

Really shines at 50% ABV.

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

Value: High (based on $53)


Review: Four Roses Private Selection Single Barrel (OBSK) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Four Roses PS OBSK 2.jpg
ABV
54.1%
Aging
11 years, 4 months; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
Distiller Four Roses (Lawrenceburg, Kentucky)

These single barrels - bottled straight from the cask from a particular recipe - are terrific. It is a phenomenal demonstration of the effect of yeast on flavor development. They used to be easier to find, and cheaper, but they have gone the way of high quality bourbon - not as easy these days. This barrel was selected by Jim Rutledge for the distillery store.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Warehouse D (North), Rick 31, 1st level, Barrel M

  • Bottling Code: 42 21 181 13 00:47

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Oaky, spicy. Cumin, vanilla, rich corn, sharp spice...caramel, paint thinner, cherry. Quite elegant. Spicy on the palate – this feels, at its heart, to be a characteristic bourbon of Four Roses. Cherry, oaky, nutty – delivate, and yet spicy. Loads of spices, and very complex. The finish is full of corn, rich oak, sharp cherry, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, marshy oak, and tannin.  A magnificent bourbon!

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Very High. (based on $53)


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

Four Roses SB 2.jpg
ABV
50%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
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)


Review: Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
N/A
Producer Bulleit (Louisville, Kentucky)

Bulleit is a bourbon producer, not a distillery. For a long time production was out of Four Roses as originally the two brands were both owned by Seagrams, but now Diageo is building a new distillery in Kentucky which will produce Bulleit products, among other things. It is a popular brand and demand certainly could necessitate a full distillery for production. The bourbon also has a fairly high percentage of rye, and is widely renowned for its performance in cocktails.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Oak, which is fairly earthy, dried apricot, vanilla, tobacco, candied orange peel, lemon, and some nice rich corn. Also some notes that are a bit like cola candies. There’s also a bit of bitterness/staleness which I don’t much like. Banana cream pie, and a hint of light floral and honey notes. The oak is quite nicely integrated with the spice, and the richness of the corn is just brilliant as I find with other Four Roses products…but that light astringency does detract.

Taste: Very nice on the palate. A nice balance of oak, stewed apricot, caramel, a touch of mint, and a decent bit of spice – with very nice feel too. The oak retains its earthy character from the nose – which I quite like. It’s reasonably sweet, too. There is some clove and cinnamon which pick up at the end nicely too along with the mint. It’s light, but it has a nice rye spice note to it.

Finish: Stewed apricot, light star anise, banana ,and oak – which grows. There’s a bit of licorice root and cinnamon too. The sweetness seems a little off in my tasting of this – it’s good body, flavour, but the balance isn’t quite there in the finish – but it’s pretty good.

A solid bourbon – especially on the palate. It doesn’t blow your mind away, but usually is met with a “this is good stuff” thought at some point during your tasting. A good one to just drink to enjoy, without needing to put a lot of thought into it, but also challenging enough if you are wanting to ponder the drink as you enjoy it. It says “frontier” whisky, which makes me think of a big, bold whisky – but this is not, it’s much more soft and light, but with a little bit of a bite.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, at $40.


Review: Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
Blend of OBSO, OBSK, OESO, and OESK Recipes
Distiller Four Roses (Lawrenceburg, Kentucky)

Four Roses distillery uses 5 proprietary yeast strains, and two mashbills (recipes), to produce 10 different bourbons which it produces and ages separately and then blends into their bourbons. This whiskey, Small Batch, is created from 4 of these recipes. These are the OBSO, OBSK, OESO, and OESK. The first two -“OB” recipes – utilize a high-rye mashbill: 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley. The second two – “OE” recipes – utilize a lower-rye mashbill: 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley.

The flavour impact of yeast – a fundamental ingredient for any sort of alcohol production isdemonstrated clearly in the different bourbon offerings by Four Roses. As for the yeasts, the two used in Small Batch are the Four Roses “O” (OBSO,OESO) and “K” yeasts (OBSK,OESK). The “O” yeast, according to Four Roses, contributes “delicate fruitiness” to the whiskey, while the “K” yeast contributes “slight spice” to the whiskey.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Some very nice honey plays into this one, and it is one of the first things I notice. Dried corn also seems to be quite present at the front of the nose, and there’s a slight background creaminess as well. Caramel, rich vanilla, and fruit – cherries, pears, – with a slight rose-y floral edge too! As for spice, there’s some fennel and black pepper. Some of the earthiness comes out in both the oak and the corn – as you can read, this is nicely complex and all the elements play very well together, and there’s loads of wonderful subtlety. Very enjoyable.

Taste: Sweet, with some dried corn coming through front and center along with some light fruitiness -cherry particularly, and a bit of grapefruit – and a tinge of a yeasty flavour as well. Some nice, lightly earthy oak toward the end as well. There’s some nice spice too – some cinnamon, sweet star anise, and some other light baking spices. There’s also a bit of an almost vegetal note to this – or perhaps herbal – mint, I suppose, but with a qutie vegetal characteristic beyond the lighter, menthol note. The grains are brilliant, too – you can taste the corn, and the candied nature of the rye is there very nicely. And a bit of a background cola note too. The movement and balance work well – sometimes the grassiness of the rye is a bit out of place, but it is minimal.

Finish: Light oak, dried corn, apple, cherry juice, caramel, cinnamon, …with the lightest bitter tinge which is ever-so-slightly detracting. The finish is quite full in terms of feel, and slowly fades and unpacks – and it is still fairly sweet. The oak also has a freshly charred and smoky quality which I very much enjoy. Also, overall, quite rich.

I find this whiskey very easy to drink, and it slips down without much of an issue. It’s light, fresh, fruity, with some light spice too. The oak, the soft fruit, and the floral nature of this bourbon – very very nice, and most definitely recommended. It also tends to get better the more you drink it....

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

Value: High, based on $40.