Image of a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel and a pour in a Glencairn Glass

The Beauty of Balance – Four Roses Single Barrel First Impressions Review

Finding Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon WhiskeyImage of a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel and a pour in a Glencairn Glass

Well, this one is pretty easy. If you ask 20 people their Top 5 (non-rare) bourbons, you’re probably going to hear Four Roses Single Barrel on almost every list. Four Roses knows this and liquor stores know this. I’ve seen Four Roses Single Barrel in stores that have the most miserable whiskey selections I’ve ever seen. So, check your most convenient liquor store. If they don’t have it, they’re probably just sold out for the moment. I’ve seen this expression as low as $35 so there’s not much at stake.

I was turned onto Four Roses Single Barrel by a good friend and CrossFit coach (Thanks, Jeff!). I’d been into single malt scotches for a while and I was ready to branch out to bourbon. Four Roses Single Barrel was the first must-have item he mentioned. I’m pretty sure I bought this bottle the next day.

Of note, this is the “standard” single barrel. In higher end liquor stores, you may find select single barrels that the store, a distributor, or another buyer has selected and purchased for bottling. These select bottlings are usually cask strength and can be any one of Four Roses’ 10 recipes. This review is the OBSV┬árecipe: B mashbill – 60% corn, 35% rye, 5% malted barley, V yeast strain – delicate fruit.

Review

Image of a pour of Four Roses Single Barrel in a Glencairn GlassAppearance

Dark gold to light brown color. A couple of “floaties” but otherwise, nice clarity. A turn thinly coats glass but there are no big ropy legs here. The liquid swirls nicely in the glass.

Nose

Sugary oak and oranges are big in the front. Lots of burnt sugar and toffee last through. Continued draws yield cinnamon-glazed almonds and sweet corn.

Flavor

Lots of oak and sweet caramel right away. Spicy cinnamon is no doubt contributed by the rye. Loads of sweet corn are backed up by a handful of salted peanuts. Everything is pleasantly in balance. Brown sugar lasts on the palate into a long finish. Continued sips yield more cinnamon with a touch of marzipan dipped in maraschino cherry juice.

Mouthfeel

Velvety and mouth-coating with a pleasant alcohol tingle, likely supported by the rye spiciness. It’s warm enough to be sinus-feeling with a breath blown through a closed mouth. Overall, it’s quite warm and true to its proof.

Overall ImpressionImage of a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel

Four Roses Single Barrel is just plain delicious and artfully balanced. It has all the characteristics that make a bourbon. While it’s true that nothing in particular stands out, that also means that nothing beats the drinker over the head. The danger here is that this bourbon is so habit-forming, comforting, available, and affordable, you could put many bottles of it away before you realize it. And at the $35 price point, maybe that’s not such a bad thing!

Score

90/100

Buy Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon

 

Brad Lumley on Email
Brad Lumley
Brad is a BJCP Certified Beer Judge-gone whisk(e)y aficionado. Between drams, he's a husband, father of two, and avid CrossFitter.

COMMENTS

Makefort

Well, the price surely seems nice. I sadly have no way of getting one of those where I live, but I would love to give it a try if I had a chance. It seems they have done a really nice job with flavor, the way you put it, must have been great.

Brad Lumley

I had an experienced bourbon aficionado friend call this out as a surprisingly high score. He chalked it up to my lack of experience with the barrel proof select Four Roses Single Barrel offerings. I’ll admit that I’m still somewhat inexperienced but I stand by my score. The beauty of this bottle is in the balance. So many premium bourbons have distinct flavors and aromas that feature. This bottling has everything that a bourbon should have with no one characteristic stepping on any other.

Robin

Eh, aficionados in any area tend to be strict about anything. I remember hearing about a wine experiment with different wine taste experts. They were drinking the same wine but had drastically different opinions because the experimenters labeled the wine as two separate cheap and expensive wines. Unsurprisingly, the perceived expensive wine was given a better rating. The way you described the drink was very tempting. Coming from a fellow exercise fanatic I have to be careful not to drink too much, so it doesn’t go to my waistline, as well as go through my wallet. I think the price might be a bit high, but I think it’s fair for the quality of the taste.

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