Now Drinking

Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (KSBW)

Age: No age statement (NAS), ca. 10 y/o

Proof: 100 (50% ABV)

Maker: Four Roses, Lawrenceburg, KY (Kirin)

Barrel: CS 36-2C

OK, I was actually drinking this last night.

When most whiskeys are made, a number of barrels from various locations and of various ages are mingled together to produce the desired taste profile.  Single Barrel whiskeys only contain whiskey from one barrel.  Barrels in different warehouses or different areas of the same warehouse will age differently and as a result will differently.  So most every barrel, even if made from the same recipe by the same distiller will taste differently.

Four Roses takes it a step further, though.  Partly as a holdover from when the distillery was making blended whiskey and partly as just pure brilliance, Four Roses actually makes 10 different bourbons.  They use two different recipes with five different yeast strains to accomplish this.  OBSV is the code for the recipe used for the Four Roses Single Barrel.  The standard yellow label version uses all ten recipes, at various ages.

The nose is intense, it is 100 proof after all, but it smells like the blossoms on my dwarf lemon tree.  It’s not a citrus smell, it’s somewhere between lilac and Bazooka Joe bubble gum.  The taste is definately sweet, but it quickly fades into a dry spiciness.  Not a lot of wood is to be found in spite of the whiskey being around ten years old.  But it does seem to be playing a backround role that can be hard to disentangle from the rest of the whiskey, sort of like the violas in an orchestra.  If they weren’t there, you’d notice, but they’re hard to pick out on their own.  Just when you think you have, you realize it was actually the second violins afterall.

Four Roses Single Barrel is, aside from any annual releases or special offerings, my favorite bourbon on the planet.  To me it’s like a Mozart symphony.  It is at once beautiful and elegant, even a little whimsical, but still powerful.  You come away wanting more, but not always sure that you want to do it all over again, because you wouldn’t want to cheapen the experience.

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