DSR – KY – 010: 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 and Viscosity: This Four Roses Private Barrel Select is dark russet to light tawny in the tasting vessel. A thin, razor sharp viscous line forms then transforms into tiny perforated beads. The smaller beads transition to larger droplets and are very slow to release down the sides of the Glencairn glass.
Purchase Price: Approximately $79.95 from NC ABC Stores
Bottle Label Information:
“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”
“Single Barrel Private Selection 750 ML”
“Settlement from the barrel may be present in this non-chill filtered bourbon.”
“Specially Selected by Old Gold & Black Boards”
“Picture: Wake Forest Demon Deacon”
“Four Roses Recipe Selected: OBSV Aged 9 years 4 months”
Four Roses Distillery, LLC
Four Roses Distillery was founded by Paul Jones, Jr. in 1884. Legend has it that Mr. 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 fondest of memories.
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 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:
- Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Four Roses Small Batch
- Four Roses Single Barrel
- Four Roses Small Batch Select
The bourbon we revisited for this review 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 Date/Vessel: November 20, 2021 – Neat in Glencairn Glass; Then with a few drops of distilled water.
Christian: My first impression of this Four Roses Barrel Select is that it smells very yeast forward. Thoughts of dark honey wheat bread quickly come to mind. A subtle hint of brown sugar is present and gives way to a fruity sweetness. The fruit is a bit indiscernible but undoubtedly present. A quick swirl and return to my nose allows a delicate and light honeydew melon aroma, and just a touch of floral notes, to join the aromas. This nose does not have the alcohol punch that one would expect at this proof point…quite nice! Wow! The addition of distilled water really sweetens up this bourbon. A nice burst of floral opens up the pour with rich caramels and brown sugar really taking over.
Mike: Nosing this bourbon as it is immediately poured into the glass, offers a fresh yeast dough aroma. Slight notes of ethylene of over ripening fruit is detected. A gentle swirl of the glass releases fruity bouquets, similar to a fresh fruit basket, possibly leaning towards fresh mixed berries. Soft brown sugar and cinnamon notes are revealed on the back-end with a delicate suggestion of alcohol.
Christian: The mouthfeel on this pour feels a bit heavy but somehow soft, leaving a nice coating on the tongue. To me, this bourbon is an absolute leather bomb. As I return to the glass and take another sip, I experience a touch of dark black cherry on the tip of my tongue – this has a bit of a medicinal quality to it. After that, the mid palate is flooded with more notes of leather and a smidgen of burnt brown sugar and robust oak char. This offering from Four Roses isn’t overly complex or sweet, but does offer traditional bourbon flavors many enjoy. The distilled water really softens the mouth feel on this whiskey. The flavors sweeten up some with leather becoming a little less dominant. Burnt brown sugar, caramel, and baking spices really ramp up with the addition of water.
Mike: My first sip of this Four Roses offers a punch, with rye spice and notes of leather. This pour has a soft mouthfeel and is somewhat thin on the palate. It offers a subtle creaminess upfront with a dry back-end of black pepper. A second sip exposes a fruity palate of rose fruit, perhaps pears.
Christian: The finish on this private barrel selection is long with a nice extended Kentucky hug and a flavor echo that lasts a while. A floral note develops in the back with black cherry holding strong. This is where the proof and rye spice really take hold. Shortly after drinking, the flavor profile turns a little bitter, with the oak char influence and time in the barrel really influencing the experience. Finally, a rush of green apple comes late and remains on the palate for some time. The distilled water still allows this finish to pack a punch. The finish contains loads of rye spice and oak barrel char bitterness.
Mike: This bourbon has a robust and long finish. Spicy rye flavors hit the back of the throat with a generous cinder down to the middle of the chest. A gentle floral essence lingers in the mouth then transitions to soft curing tobacco.
Christian: Over the past year, Mike and I have had the chance to try a wide array of whiskies and bourbons. Re-visiting older reviews gives us an opportunity to go back and see what we experienced early on and whether our thoughts have changed, as our palates have expanded and been fine tuned since we began. This Private Barrel Selection from Four Roses is a solid traditional bourbon offering that comes with a very nice nose, a traditional yet not complex tasting experience, and long but tasty finish. There’s no doubt that this is a good pour. However, in the end, it just comes off a bit one note to me. Perhaps I need to spend some time with the alternative recipes and really experience all that Four Roses has to offer, but for now, I am going to stick with my original rating on this pour.
Christian’s Rickhouse Rating: 3.25 Rickhouses
Mike: This is a very traditional offering from Four Roses. It has everything one should look for in a good bourbon–conventional flavors and nothing overly complex. The barrel proof offering is versatile, but this is not a whiskey that should be mixed and used occasionally for a signature cocktail. Sip this one neat or softened with a splash of water or a cube of ice.
Mike’s Rickhouse Rating: 4.0 Rickhouses