One, Two, Three...Four Roses
Few distilleries offer a more satisfying and successful single barrel program than the exceptional Four Roses Distillery. This brand has been on fire, not only because of the amazing pricing we offer on their flagship products, but because they've committed to producing the highest quality bourbon no matter what. It seemed for a while that stocks had become dangerously tight. The little distillery outside Lawrenceburg was cranking at full steam, but there isn’t enough juice to go around. The program has blocked new applicants and participants are now required to visit their Cox's Creek facility to select their barrels. This is the sort of restrictions that we LOVE because it means we get to visit our great friends in KY and enjoy the whiskey straight out of the casks with a side of salty tortilla chips.
Since those dark days, it seems things have regulated somewhat. The distillery is expanding and the barrels that they've been rolling out have been absolutely delicious. I'm convinced their just giving us the good ones cause they like us so much, but maybe it's simple coincidence. This last batch was EXTREMELY hard to pick. At least four of the eight barrels were absolutely delicious. Two were classic solid Four Roses, two were very odd ball outliers. Ultimately, I had to let go of a bizarre young 8.5 year old whiskey that tasted just like Armagnac in favor of the other outlier an ultra woodsy, borderline herbaceous OESV from a leaking barrel. It won't be everybody's cup of tea, but certainly will speak to a select few hardcore heads. Either way, we won't be getting back to KY until at least May so this is it for 4Rs Single Barrels until summer. Grab ‘em while you can.
This was the oldest whisky in the batch which I was sure would make it to 11 years before we bottled it, but it was bottled 1 month and one day early so it sits a reasonable 10 years and 10 months. This cask was aged on the east side of warehouse G and is bottled at a seriously powerful 127.2 proof. This is REAL high for Four Roses since the whiskies entry proof is lower proof than most distillers in Kentucky and likely the result of a particularly hot and dry position in the warehouse. The whiskey itself is filled with tension and depth, but shows lovely nuance of dried stone fruit and exotic spice on the nose. The high proof is not obvious on the plate, but the chewy texture reminds us that this is some serious stuff. The flag ship OBSV whiskey from Four Roses offers a wonderful balanced experience combining the intense rye spice and sweet fruit that Four Roses is renowned for.
I'm a huge fan of the V yeast strain so when I noticed this cask, right around ten years old, I knew it would be right in my sweet spot. The usual soft fruit and subtle spice this cask was totally out of the profile. I should have known seeing the funky weathered and warped barrel. The color in the glass was an immediate give away as well. Two or three ticks darker than the other nine casks and much woodsier, the nose is full of pepper and bitter herbs—thujone, gentian and exotic roots. Cigar box, old leather and burnt sugar continue in full force. The palate is rightfully intense and downright spicy with a building cinnamon and clove quality that's nearly overpowering. This is one for those who like them dry and spicy. The dark bitters aromas on the nose don't translate to the palate however and it keeps from feeling astringent by some brown sugar and honey notes. With such an odd ball flavor profile and ugly gnarled barrel, I should have known that this barrel was a leaker, but I was nonetheless astonished when I found out that this barrel on turned out 108 bottles.
This great little OESK is the most familiar of this round of casks. This recipe is almost always one of my favorites and shows up in the standard Small Batch in a big way. The nose on this one reminded me a lot of this year’s Limited Edition Small Batch with tons of orange liqueur, stone fruits, sweet corn, menthol and oak spice. After the high proof of the other two this one starts easy and hints that it will be sweet and easy, thanks to the opulent nose and the easy entry. But the finish goes in a different direction completely, building a big warming spice on the back palate and finishing with a deep fudgy note at the end. Not the most exciting on paper, but a real star in the glass.