...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

NOT Single Malt Report: Four Roses Single Barrel OBSO barrel 4-1D

For my last week of Mathilda Rose-specific whiskies, I'll be reviewing three Four Roses single barrels.  Three 4R of three different recipes.  Three because she brings the fourth rose.  Also, that's all the Four Roses samples I have at the moment.

She's been extremely active since she arrived and her parents have been extremely inactive as a result.  For instance, I was going to do this tasting at 9pm last night, but then she became "fussy" (a polite euphemism).  The solution?  Dancing.  My whisky music became our groove tracks for the next hour or two.  Our favorite tune of the night was Groovy Gravy by Q and the Cos.

As a result, I didn't complete this tasting until after midnight.  From what I gather, this situation may occur on regular basis.  That's not a complaint.  Any night I can dance with my daughter and drink barrel strength bourbon is a night I want to repeat.

My experience with Four Roses is sadly limited and I know I'm coming to it a couple years too late.  But now it's time to find out if the "better late than never" clich√© holds up in this case.

From all reports (and not just those from retailers), Master Distiller Jim Rutledge is a nice personable dude.  Also, he and Four Roses are very open about their mashbills and yeast strain usage, as they note these factors on their single barrel bottlings.  For instance, today's bourbon was from the OBSO recipe -- a high rye (35%) mashbill with a fruity type of yeast.  It's this recipe, along with three others, that are blended together to make the Four Roses Small Batch bourbons.

Today's sample of the OBSO is brought to us by my friend JLR.  Last year, he and his wife travelled the bourbon trail and he picked up his bottle from the Four Roses gift shop.  Thanks JLR!

DistilleryFour Roses
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Single Barrel)
Region: Lawrenceberg, Kentucky
Age: 10 years, 8 months
Recipe: OBSO (high rye, fruity yeast)
Maturation: charred white oak barrels
Warehouse: BN
Barrel #: 4-1D
Alcohol by Volume: 54.1%

The color is dark copper.  The nose is very woodsy, or rather lumberyard-ish.  It has a sharp medicinal streak along with some band-aids, characteristics reminiscent of some favored peated single malts.  There are also big notes of hazelnuts, halva, and corn syrup, with vanilla extract steadily rolling in the background.  After a lot of air, the bourbon releases something like butterscotch with mint leaves and a side of maple syrup.  The palate is also medicinal.  Cough syrup, cherry Sudafed, Halls menthol.  Then there are pinches of milk chocolate and caramel.  Sweetness meets lots of black peppercorn spice.  It gets woodier with air.  That medicinal thing continues into the finish, along with sea salt and Angostura bitters.  There's a dry rye spice-meets-menthol note that carries on for a long time.  Wood pulp, bitter greens, and pepper develop after a while as well.

Keeping in mind that the sample came from the bottle third of the bottle, and that the pour sat in my glass for well over an hour, this bourbon's unfading power was very impressive.  There's an steady consistency in characteristics across the nose and palate.  While I enjoyed the nose the most, the palate was quite good.  The finish was both raw and woody, sharp and not for delicate palates.

I don't know if this particular barrel is still available in the gift shop -- and I'd bet it probably isn't due to Four Roses's popularity -- but if it is, it isn't a bad choice for those of stronger sensory constitutions.  I'm looking forward to the next two recipes...

Availability - Four Roses visitor center / gift shop
Pricing - around $65
Rating - 86