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Four Roses Single Barrel Barrel Strength KSBW

Age: NAS, ca. 9 y/o

Proof: 112.8 (56.4% ABV)

Recipe: OBSO (For a breakdown of the 10 recipes, click here)

Barrel: GE 553C (bottle 1/172)

This whiskey is not available at your friendly neighborhood grab & go.  This is what is called a “private bottling”.  Where the law permits, certain liquor stores, clubs or even individuals will buy an entire barrel of whiskey (or brandy, rum, tequila, etc) and have it bottled for them by the producer.  The producer will usually pour samples of the contents of a few different barrels, then the purchasers will try them and decide which barrel(s) to purchase.  Binny’s Beverage Depot in Chicago is well known for its private bottlings of bourbon, rye and Scotch, for instance.  The Bourbon Society of Louisville, KY is also known for its private bottlings for members.  Two friends of mine even got together and bought a barrel of Four Roses single barrel that is very well regarded and very tasty.  I know because I’ve had some.

Not all distilleries do private bottlings though.  Four Roses, Willet (not really a distiller, but a producer of excellent whiskeys nevertheless) and Buffalo Trace are well known for their private offerings, but Heaven Hill has started doing them with their single barrel whiskeys too, and one will even find a private bottling of Wild Turkey’s Kentucky Spirit on occasion.

At any rate, in 2009, Four Roses decided to release some of their 10 recipes at barrel strengthas private bottlings to select liquor stores across the country.  Binny’s, as usual, got some of the best barrels.  This one, OBSO, is one of the constituent whiskeys in Four Roses Small Batch.

When sipped at barrel strength, it does that magical thing that high proof spirits do.  The moment a drop hits your tongue, it vaporizes.  This trick is amusing the first few times it happens.  After that, you decide you would like to actually taste it, and you decide you don’t want to have heartburn all night.  So you add a splash or two of water.

The whiskey itself is a dark amber, the proverbial copper penny color.  The nose has a lot of caramel, but a sharp edge to it, too, as the barrel char punches through.  Even with a splash of water, it’s still a hot whiskey.  But it’s a mature heat, more Kim Cattrall than Megan Fox.  The caramel is still there and even stronger on the palate.  The char has retreated a bit, but adds depth to the sweetness and keeps this whiskey from becoming one dimensional.  Not the best one of these Binny’s Four Roses bottlings I’ve had, but still worth the price of admission.

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