...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

NOT Single Malt Report: Four Roses Single Barrel OESK barrel 24-3G

Here's a very similar set up to yesterday's bourbon post.  Another after-midnight review of another 4RSB from Four Roses's gift shop.  And another thank you to JLR for the sample!

This time the barrel housed a different recipe -- OESK, the 20%-rye mashbill with a spicier yeast strain -- for a longer period of time, 11 years 11 months.

I have more thoughts on this bourbon, but first, the review.

DistilleryFour Roses
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Single Barrel)
Region: Lawrenceberg, Kentucky
Age: 11 years, 11 months
Recipe: OESK (medium rye, spicy yeast)
Maturation: charred white oak barrels
Warehouse: VE
Barrel #: 24-3G
Alcohol by Volume: 59.7%

The color is reddish brown, almost maroon. The nose has a medicinal character up front again.  This time, it's bandages and eucalyptus.  Then a salty jerky note pops up, followed by maple, smoky caramel, and cherry candies.  It's actually very tight and closed.  The palate starts with black cherry syrup and rock candy.  Tight sharp oak (vague!).  Eucalyptus and saline.  Then a dark Willett rye-esque spice which, along with the oak, gets more aggressive with time.  Lots of salt, savory, and bitter notes in the finish.  Lots of cracked pepper.  Then alcohol heat and sourness.

The whole thing was so tight that I decided to add water to attempt to loosen things up, bringing the ABV to the 43-45% range...

With water, the nose gets creamier and more sugary.  Vanilla, orange oil, and mint.  The maple and eucalyptus/menthol note remains.  But this all fades out after 10 minutes.  The palate is still very closed. More bitterness, rye spirit, green peppercorns, and salt.  Bits of oak, as if they was floating around in there.  Black cherry, black pepper, and simple barrel char in the finish.

It seems silly to start with discussing scoring right now, but I'm going to do so in order organize my thoughts.  When I finished the tasting late last night (this morning) I was going to score this in the 80s.  But as I was in between sleep and consciousness, a few things revealed themselves.  Firstly, I didn't really like this bourbon.  And, had I been tasting it blindly, I would not have paused to grade it in the 70s.  My desire to like and support Four Roses had caused me to inflate my score by a few points.

I don't think this is a bad bourbon, instead it's not one that appeals to my nose and palate.  It probably will appeal to other folks.  What fascinates me is that all of those youthful peppery spicy notes that I'd thought were from the rye, may have actually been from the "K" yeast.  Meanwhile, this whiskey was very closed compared to yesterday's Single Barrel.  (Note: this sample was from the top of the bottle, which may have played a part.)  Hydrating it helped out the nose, but then air then silenced it.  Water did not open the palate at all.  In fact, it felt as if the palate closed further.  Like yesterday's bourbon, the finish was my least favorite part.  Water only corrected it slightly.

It's possible that the OESK recipe is not for me.  Or, could this barrel have spent too much time aging?  According to Lloyd Christmas, Four Roses's Master Distiller Jim Rutledge's
favorite peak for flavor is six to eight years. Once the sugar produced in the barrel with the interaction of the wood and whiskey is gone, they have about six months to get it out of the barrel before the whiskey turns the corner and starts getting worse.
While I'm not saying that this whiskey turned the corner for the worse, it did age for almost 12 years.  That jumps Mr. Rutledge's peak by quite a distance.

Again, it could be that the recipe that doesn't work for my palate.  Is it the E (mashbill) or the K (yeast) that rubbed me wrongly?  The B (mashbill) and O (yeast) seemed to be a good combo.  In the next review, some letters get swapped and hopefully I find out more...

Availability - Four Roses visitor center / gift shop
Pricing - around $65
Rating - 78