Review: Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection

DSR – KY – 001: Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection

Company/Distillery: Four Roses Distillery, LLC

Location: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Mash Bill: Mash bill B: 60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

Age Statement: 9 years 4 months

Proof/ABV: 114.4 Proof/ 57.2% ABV

Color: Deep warm amber

Purchase Price: Approximately $79.95 from NC ABC Stores

Bottle Label Information:

Neck Label: “Private Selection”

Front Label: “Four Roses”

“Single Barrel”

“Barrel Strength”

“Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey”

“Distilled and Aged by Four Roses Distillery, LLC; Lawrencburg, Kentucky”

“ALC/VOL 57.2%, Warehouse No. EN, Barrel No. 36.3Q”

Back Label: “Four Roses”

“Single Barrel Private Selection 750 ML”

“Settlement from the barrel may be present in this non-chill filtered bourbon.”

Side Label: “Specially Selected by Old Gold & Black Boards”

“Picture: Wake Forest Demon Deacon”

“Four Roses Recipe Selected: OBSV Aged 9 years 4 months”

Distillery Background

Four Roses Distillery, LLC

Four Roses Distillery was founded by Paul Jones, Jr. in 1884. Legend has it that Jones came up with the name “Four Roses” as a result of a romantic interest. When Mr. Jones asked a young lady to the grand ball, the young lady advised Mr. Jones that he would know his answer if she wore a corsage of four roses to the ball. As it would turn out, the young lady did in fact accept Mr. Jones’ proposal, wore four roses, and the rest is history. He named the distillery after this memory.

In 1922, Mr. Jones would acquire the Frankfort Distilling Company. Business was roaring in the 1930’s and the company caught the attention of Seagram, who would purchase the distillery. Instead of continuing on with the success of Four Roses in the United States, Seagram made the decision to pull the Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the shelves and move the product to Europe and Asia.

In 2002, Japanese firm Kirin Brewery Company purchased Four Roses and all of its facilities. Under the leadership of Master Distiller Jim Rutledge, a 2001 Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame inductee, Four Roses would make its return to the US markets. Rutledge continued to be Master Distiller for the distillery up until his retirement in 2015. As of today, Master Distiller and bourbon superstar on the rise, Brent Elliott, leads the Four Roses Distillery.

Four Roses currently has four bourbons on the market using 10 different recipes. The 10 different recipes are OBSV, OBSK, OBSO, OBSQ, OBSF, OESV, OESK, OESO, OESQ, OESF. Detailed information on these recipes can be located here. The four products that can be found on shelves in the United States are:

  1. Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  2. Four Roses Small Batch
  3. Four Roses Single Barrel
  4. Four Roses Small Batch Select

Recipe OBSV

The bourbon we reviewed was Four Roses Single Barrel recipe OBSV. This recipe uses mash bill B which is a high-rye mash bill of 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley. The yeast strain used in this recipe, strain V, is said to counterbalance the spiciness of the rye by bringing delicate fruits to the party. Recipe OBSV was identified as the recipe of the month by Four Roses in April 2020.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: April 26, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass


Christian: Upon first raise of the glass, detect aromas of oak, rye grain, and allspice. Hints of leather are subtle but present. Nose announces quickly that this is a higher proof offering. Adding water tones down the alcohol in the nose and really brings forward a sweetness of vanilla and brown sugar.

Mike: Light honey that gives way to fresh sliced pears. As I nose in deeper, I’m picking up a satisfying oakiness with delicate hints of leather and brown sugar.


Christian: On the glass this bourbon looks thin with little to no legs. The mouth feel, however, is very buttery and sweet. The rye really brings a spicy kick to this pour. I get a very slight hint of cinnamon right off the bat. Brown sugar and leather are dominant in the mouth. Addition of water does not tame the spice in the mouth. Leather notes become even more pronounced with a subtle hint of cloves sneaking in to the taste.

Mike: A shot of sweetness that is quickly eclipsed with rye spiciness. This has a hot peppery kick in the back of my throat that finishes with smooth leather and tobacco flavors.


Christian: Nice medium long Kentucky hug on this bourbon. Can feel it in my jaws, gums, and throat all the way down. Sweetness intensifies on the finish with peaches or apricots moving forward the longer it lingers. Adding water shortens the finish some but does not remove the Kentucky hug. The finish remains bold and present.

Mike: The finish is smooth and very long. There is a prolonged silky burn down my throat as the leather and tobacco aromas linger.

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: I am ashamed to say that this was my first run in with any Four Roses products. I have never had a bottle make it to my shelf up to this point. This offering, selected by the Old Gold & Black Wake Forest message board, is a tasty bourbon. The OBSV recipe is not overly complex as the rye leads the show and hangs around for the duration. The mouth is pleasant with a sweet and refreshing finish. Overall this selection was hot but enjoyable and what I consider a very solid pour.

The price is a non-factor on this one as it was a hand selected private barrel. It is understandable to pay $60-70 for such a product. Moving forward I do see a couple different Four Roses offerings making their way to my collection!

Rating: 3.25 Rickhouses

Mike: This was a private selection that a group of Wake Forest University alums and fans embarked on around 2014, that I was lucky enough to be involved with and took a couple of years to come to fruition. I wasn’t involved in the actual selection, that was left to a privileged few who really did an outstanding job. In all actuality, I was very new to the bourbon game and it would have been unfair if I had been involved in this highly selective process. If memory serves, I purchased 4 of these bottles and opened one immediately. I sold one to my brother-in-law at retail price so he could give it as a gift. Another bottle was opened several months later at a friend’s party and we got into the bottle enough that I was content to leave the remaining 1/3 or less as a parting gift.

This particular bottle has been in my bunker since 2016. When Wake Forest announced that men’s basketball head coach, Danny Manning, was relieved of his duties the morning of April 25, 2020, I couldn’t think of a better time, or reason, to open this last bottle and commemorate the occasion. It has been a long and miserable 10 years for this Deacon basketball fan.

With all that said, I absolutely love this bourbon. Maybe I’m a little a lot biased (I am). Maybe I’m relishing in the thought of new beginnings for Wake basketball (I am). But I don’t care. This is a remarkable and complex bourbon that just flat out delivers. Period. It knocks you out with the sweetest punch! It was absolutely as amazing as I remember it being 4 years ago.

Rating: 4.5 Rickhouses

Conclusion: There is no arguing, this is an excellent Four Roses Private Barrel Selection by the Wake Forest Old Gold & Black message board. Crisp bold flavors and a pleasant nose make this an offering worth drinking. Buy a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel and enjoy it with friends. If you get a chance, grab a bottle that is an individual’s or store selection private barrel. We believe you will be pleased.

Our final score of 4 rickhouses was achieved by taking Christian’s score of 3.25 and Mike’s score of 4.5 for an average score of 3.875 rickhouses. We rounded that up to a straight 4 rickhouse whiskey.


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