Published on July 24th, 2013 | by Siz6
Four Roses Single Barrel
Back in May I went on the Four Roses distillery tour as part of my bachelor trip. Honestly, I had never been a huge fan of Four Roses, so I wasn’t super geeked to go on their tour. I had heard great things about the actual distillery so I figured I might as well hit it up while I was there. To my surprise, while I was there I was converted to a huge Four Roses fan. Mainly do to the fact that I fell in love with their Four Roses Single Barrel. There was something so delicious and unique about it that I was just blown away and I knew as soon as I got back from this trip that I was going to have to get a bottle to review. That’s exactly what I did.
After checking Four Roses’ website I learned even more about their bourbons. Our tour guide didn’t do a great job at explaining everything. She was doing more of a high level overview of the distilling building than anything. If you remember from our review of the Four Roses Yellow Label we talk about the history of the name behind this brand so I won’t cover that again. What I found to be even more interesting is the way these bourbons are crafted. If you check out their site, they talk about their ten unique recipes. Each recipe contains 1 of their 2 mashbills and 1 of 5 proprietary yeast strains. All in all this creates 10 different recipes. They combine all ten for their Yellow Label, then combine a specific 4 for the small batch, and they only use 1 recipe for this Four Roses Single Barrel. After learning about all of this it got me intrigued to find out more. If you go to the page I linked to above you can hover each of the recipes and it gives you a bit more information on what to expect. The recipe for Four Roses Single Barrel is 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley. To me this seems like a fairly high rye percentage, so I’m expecting some spice when I’m sip on it. Enough of the backstory lets hop on into the review!
The bottle for this Four Roses Single Barrel is a unique shape and definitely stands out on the shelf. I love how it starts wide at the base and then has a slight taper towards the top of the bottle. The topper has a faux wood look to the outside of it, while inside it houses a cork that keeps this bourbon air tight. Probably the most noticeable thing about this bottle is the leather band around the neck of the bottle that says “Straight Bourbon Whiskey”. It also has a dangling tag on it that gives you some more information about the bourbon inside. Another thing that I really like about this bottle is the mold of the four roses into the glass above the label. I think it adds a nice dynamic to the bottle and really makes it their own. I believe they also do this for their small batch bottles and I think that’s something that really sets them apart on the retail shelves.
The coloring of this bourbon is beautiful. Even though the pictures don’t capture it to the fullest, it’s a nice amber / copper color. It reflects light and shines through the glass beautifully and makes this bourbon really pop. I love pouring this bourbon on ice and holding it under a light, it’s so photogenic and I wish I was a better photographer to be able to capture what I was seeing. Oh well, it’s not for photographing, it’s for drinking, so let’s get to it.
Now, I’m sure most of you know that because this is a single barrel there is a chance for some variance in flavor from barrel to barrel. The master distiller Jim Rutledge does all he can to ensure consistency for his product, but it’s difficult when it’s a single barrel. So just keep that in mind if you purchase a bottle and you don’t experience some of the same flavors that I do. The core flavors should be similar, but you might pick up on things that I didn’t and you might not experience what I talk about. With all that out of the way, let’s talk about this Four Roses Single Barrel.
The first thing that I noticed when nosing this bourbon was the strong sense of vanilla. It was definitely the dominate note, but there were some other notes as well. The secondary note that I picked up on was char and some oak. These notes added some great complexity to the nose. I also was able to pick up some sweetness that was slightly fruity. The aroma on this bourbon didn’t light my nose on fire, for that I’m always thankful!
I think the thing that sets this Four Roses Single Barrel apart is what you experience on the palate. It really has everything, spice, sweetness, and some bitterness. The spice comes from that 35% rye that we talked about in the mashbill above. What I love about this spice is that it’s not overpowering. It’s there, but it balances incredibly well with the sweetness and the slight bitter tastes. The sweetness that comes out is more fruity than anything. It’s very reminiscent of plums and I can pick up on some cherries as well. Again, not overpowering, but well balanced. It’s very interesting to see the transition from spice to sweet in this bourbon. It’s like it happens from front to back while sipping on it. It’s a nice even transition, and then at the tail end you get some bitterness that reminds me of licorice. For me this bourbon has everything I want in it with regards to pleasing my palate.
So the nose is great, the palate is great, but how does this Four Roses Single Barrel finish? Exceptionally well! The finish is smooth and has a very buttery coating mouthfeel to it. Once it goes down it begins that slow burn in your chest that I’ve grown to love. The finish lasts long enough that you can sit and take it all in before putting the glass back up to your lips to have another drink. Smooth, balanced, and lingering those are the best ways to describe the finish for me.
Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon: 10/10
I have to say, this might be my new favorite bourbon. Now I still love Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon, but this one is absolutely incredible. It’s also about $15-20 cheaper than Blanton’s so that obviously plays into it as well. For me this bourbon has everything that I love in a single barrel. I tend to lean more towards sweet than spice and this Four Roses meets me right where I like to be. It has a very unique flavor to it that’s right in my wheelhouse and that’s why I gravitate towards it. I’m glad I hit up this distillery tour and was able to sample this Four Roses Single Barrel. Because honestly, it prolly would have been a lot longer before I bought a bottle. So if you haven’t tried it yet, go out and do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle. Or if you’re crazy like me, you should just go ahead and buy a case so that when the bottle runs out you’ll have another one to replace it.