Four Roses Single Barrel

Review 2017-068 «Specifics» Bourbon whiskey • Distilled from 60% corn, 35% rye and 5% malted barley • 50% Alcohol • Matured for 10 years in a new charred-American oak barrel (warehouse no. HE, barrel no. 51-2T) • Chill filtered • Caramel-coloured • Four Roses Distillery (owned by Kirin Brewery Compagnie, Japan) • Lawrenceburg • Kentucky • U.S.A. • Widely available • price ±€32 • Whiskybase #68624

STORY. The Four Roses Distillery followed its own path. In particular, in recent years several changes have made this an unique bourbon in appearance and taste. The distillery uses 5 proprietary yeast strains that produce each its unique flavours. Each bourbon have their codes for which distillation process is exactly used, and for the single barrel that is OBSV (more on how to read that code).


APPEARANCE. They redesigned their bottle a while ago, and that has made quite an improvement. It is stylish, individual, authentic, with the four roses etched in the glass, a personal touch with the hand-written warehouse and cask number, the leather band around the neck of the bottle with an explanatory card attached to it. I like it. Somehow the colour of the whiskey seems less altered compared to other bourbons. Or could it be that I am fooled by this very tasteful bottle?

NOSE. Starts with a sweet and sharp nose, some varnish, slightly alcoholic, with a hint of toffee and some caramel. This needs at least 5 minutes to open up, so let it breathe. Then it becomes more gentle, lightly spicy, sweet toffee, fruity, and even floral. In fact, this is a quite complex nose. And it can take quite some water, which further increases the complexity. Wide array of wood scents coming up, sweet wood, cherrywood, cedar wood, American oak. Add to that spiced honey, salty caramel, and lots of caramelised orange skin. Orange-infused oil, and when the bottle becomes more empty a light smoke is appearing. Incense?

TASTE. It is much spicier than the nose suggests. Also here, this needs time and a drop of water. A hint of clove, lots of raw cinnamon, spiced Japanese nuts, soy sauce, and cardamon. There is a bitterness appears at the end of each sip, covering the tongue with caramelised orange skin, grapefruit, and bitter cherries. The fruitiness becomes more apparent during the development, in particular cherries, and some herbal notes are also present. It contains a slightly metallic note, but that remains pleasant. I think it is a slightly challenging palette, however, the experience is worth it.

VERDICT. Well, not only the bottle has its own style… the liquid inside is characterful too. I like it anyway. Well-made bourbon that is surprisingly complex. And a single barrel edition for this price? Laughable. A pleasure to drink, when you see through the bitter edge from the beginning, and the smell and taste linger for quite a while. The single barrel version is never the same, which adds extra pleasure in comparing different bottlings. Thumbs up, and I can only hope the successor of the famous Jim Rutledge has his own ideas and opinions. Stubborn is the spirit!

Recommended for bourbon lovers.

A bottle of this was purchased from Gall & Gall.

«What others say»

  • @Whiskybase: Mean score of 86.00 (1 vote)
  • @breakingbourbon: “Full of flavor, regularly available on shelves, and a reasonable price” Score: 3.5/5
  • @whiskeyjug: “It’s one of my absolute favorite bourbons and it’s always fun to get a new bottle and see how it compares to previous ones” Score: 92/100
  • @modernthirst: “This bourbon sips extremely easily neat, and with a few drops of distilled water, the aromas really pop, without sacrificing the taste” Score: 88/100
  • John Hansell @whiskyadvocate: “This whiskey is nicely balanced, with a teasing subtleness to it” Score: 88/100
86.5 %
87 %
84 %
86 %
87.5 %