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flahute

BOTM 10/19: Four Roses Single Barrel

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flahute

So, as some of you may have seen, Joe has asked me to take over the BOTM forum. I'm hesitant to do so as I have very large shoes to fill. Let's all thank Joe for his many years of service doing this!

 

Some of you may be wondering if my status as board member of the Cult has influenced my first pick. Maybe.......but I won't tell.

It's been almost 5 years since we discussed this one. For those of you newer to Four Roses, this Single Barrel bottling is their standard release single barrel, always bottled at 100 proof, and always of the OBSV recipe. Continuing for those newer to this, Four Roses has 10 recipes that they create from 2 different mashbills and 5 different yeast strains. They have a Private Selection single barrel program in which you can select one of 10 recipes to have bottled at barrel proof. This is not that. (BUT! To confuse matters, you CAN do a Private Selection of OBSV to be bottled at 100 proof. Why would you do that? To get more bottles of a barrel that you really think is good)

 

Four Roses Single Barrel used to be the bourbon that was my answer to the question "What is your favorite bourbon?" It was my most recommended. As a single barrel product, barrel to barrel variation was to be expected. But I found it to always be excellent and to consistently resemble the distillery provided tasting notes of "delicate fruit, spicy, creamy - hints of ripe plum & cherries, robust, full body, mellow". It was my absolute goto. During this era, Four Roses was consistently being named "Distillery of the Year" much to the consternation of the much bigger mainstays who were wondering how this smaller distillery was suddenly making such good bourbon.

 

Then something happened. Jim Rutledge retired. The protocols for selecting single barrels changed. Jim wasn't involved anymore. Bigger than that though was the boom. Four Roses had too much product tied up under contract to Bulleit and as the boom tightened the screws on inventory, they had to shut off Bulleit but it was too late. In my opinion, quality control took a hit due to insufficient inventory. Barrels that would have not been good enough or old enough in the past that would be used for the blends were now forced into the single barrel program. The consistency suffered. 

 

For this BOTM, I wanted to taste a current version to see how it's doing. I went to my favorite local yesterday to buy one and they were out! Off to the bunker I went hoping I had a standard version and not a store pick. Turns out I had one left among numerous store picks (the 100 proof store picks and the barrel proof picks). This one is from about 2 years ago. It's good and does have many of the distillery provided tasting note qualities. It's not as balanced as I would like but it's got the fruits and the creamy mouth feel.

 

One last thing - I've noticed in the what are you drinking and buying threads that I haven't seen this one mentioned much. (Quite possible I missed it of course.)

What are you all thinking about this one? 

 

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Richnimrod

I agree that we all owe Joe a big thank you for all he has done... on BOTM thread... and for the community at large!   So: Thanx Joe!!!!

 

As to the 4-R SB standard 'off the shelf' brand; I haven't bought a new one in about 3-years.   The previous couple I'd bought just before that time had been disappointing, so I've stayed away.

This brand from . . . say 5 or 6 years ago . . . was reliably (if a bit variable) a very nice pour.   I always found this one closer to the center of my wheelhouse than Sm.Batch and waaay closer than Yellow Label (which I haven't bought in several years either).      I almost always got a sweet/mellow caramel taste right in the middle of the more subtle baking spices and fruits, which I feel contributes considerably to that "creaminess".   The two disappointments didn't have much of the caramel/creaminess, and less of the baking spices.

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whiskeylogged

I wasn't around to thank you in real time but I appreciate pouring over the old threads of BOTM.  Cheers Joe!  and thanks for reviving it flahute!

 

A couple years ago our local liquor giant announced they were getting a four roses store pick, I think the first in the state.  I was expecting a private select but lo and behold, it was just OBSV at 50%.  The word was that they had to take one of these to get their foot in the door for PS picks.  Not more than a month or two later they discounted it, so I snagged a couple.  Now, instead of seeing a couple PS picks show up, the regular 4RSB is apparently allocated?! 

 

This one's been easy to recommend to people who wanted a step up from Jim Beam or other value bottles.  It's one of the first bourbons I found "fruity" notes in, and when I first tried it I thought it was a lot more robust in flavor than anything else I was drinking.  Kind of a classy bottle and the price is right, for now.  I certainly won't be chasing it if the price goes up and they start disappearing off the shelves.

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smokinjoe

Thanks for bringing this back, Steve.  4RSB has long been one of my favorites.  A classily packaged, beautifully balanced, well constructed, flavorful pour,  and a daily “step up” purchase.  But, the increasing price point coupled with a taste profile that dropped below what I expected from the label had me moving away from it.  But, the last number of bottles that I have had, including a couple of recent locally selected private selections, have it back on my radar.  The age of the bottles are creeping back up, and with that the thinness has disappeared, and more balance of flavors has returned.  Particularly of note is the finished.  Some of those bottles from a few years ago were short and bitter.  Recent bottles have a noticeably more full and round on the end.  So, I’m back to being a buyer, but only when the pricing is mid-$30s, not $40 and above.  

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JCwhammie

In April 2017 I went from a casual bourbon drinker to an enthusiast. This was around the same time I first had 4RSiB. This means I never had it before the above stated hurdles resulted in the product that's now on shelves. I absolutely love what's currently in there, but part of that is the price here in Missouri ($33.99 and to my knowledge not allocated here). I actually need to go pick up a bottle.

Thanks for reviving the BOTM and more thanks to Joe for putting it up for so many years!!

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fishnbowljoe

First off, many thanks to Flahute for helping a fellow moderator out. 👌 

 

Now for my two cents..... ;)

 

I admit that I haven’t had a bottle of FRSB in a while. I used to buy it on a semi-regular basis, but as smokinjoe alluded to, something changed. I’m a wheater/ BT/BIB guy for the most part. While rye/high rye bourbons such as those from  FR an WT aren’t exactly high on my list, I do like them once in a while for a change of pace. The thing I used to like about FRSB was the combination of spicy, fruity and floral flavors. Those flavors used to work in a way that was enjoyable. Those flavors became muddled and muted in the last couple of bottles I had.
 

With Joe saying it seems to have gotten better recently, and since the price is still pretty reasonable ($31.99-$33.99) at a couple of stories in my area, I reckon I’m gonna have to give it another try. ;)

 

Biba! Joe

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smokinjoe
5 minutes ago, fishnbowljoe said:

The thing I used to like about FRSB was the combination of spicy, fruity and floral flavors. Those flavors used to work in a way that was enjoyable. Those flavors became muddled and muted in the last couple of bottles...

Thank you Joe, for putting down in words exactly what I remember of the 4RSB from the past...”...combination of spicy, fruity, and floral flavors.”  Perfect!

 

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fishnbowljoe
13 minutes ago, smokinjoe said:

Thank you Joe, for putting down in words exactly what I remember of the 4RSB from the past...”...combination of spicy, fruity, and floral flavors.”  Perfect!

 

You’re more than welcome Joe.

 

While I never got to try all of FR’s 10 recipes, I did have a few. Yes, floral notes were present in a couple. Nothing definite I could put my finger on though. There were definite fruity notes in a couple others. I swear that one I had was a mix of tangerine and orange. Tangelo?  :huh:  All were good, but FRSB had all those flavors in a very balanced way. Like I said in my last post, I reckon I’m gonna have to go buy one now. Thank you Steve and Joe. ;)

 

Biba! Joe

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flahute
8 hours ago, smokinjoe said:

Thanks for bringing this back, Steve.  4RSB has long been one of my favorites.  A classily packaged, beautifully balanced, well constructed, flavorful pour,  and a daily “step up” purchase.  But, the increasing price point coupled with a taste profile that dropped below what I expected from the label had me moving away from it.  But, the last number of bottles that I have had, including a couple of recent locally selected private selections, have it back on my radar.  The age of the bottles are creeping back up, and with that the thinness has disappeared, and more balance of flavors has returned.  Particularly of note is the finished.  Some of those bottles from a few years ago were short and bitter.  Recent bottles have a noticeably more full and round on the end.  So, I’m back to being a buyer, but only when the pricing is mid-$30s, not $40 and above.  

I like what I'm hearing here. Need to complete the mission of buying a current bottle.

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ebo

It used to be my favorite. I bought a bottle a year or so ago and was I was disappointed with it. I'll pick up another bottle and see if things have improved. I hope so!

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dcbt
12 hours ago, fishnbowljoe said:

 The thing I used to like about FRSB was the combination of spicy, fruity and floral flavors.

Yea, I buy this bottle to be the floral / fruity representative on my bar (and as such tend to drink it more during the summer).

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Phil T

So, went to my local to get a bottle. They had zero, zip, nada. WTF, they always have it. I got on the OHLQ site, and the closest store that has it is 25 miles away. Unbelievable. 

 

Hopefully,  I will post again this weekend when I find one.

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BMartin42

I ALWAYS have one open as I too consider it as in the one “my favorite” category. I don’t tend to mention it much the the I’m drinking thread because it along with BT are my daily’s. It just isn’t unusual enough to bother posting. In fact those two tend to anchor the “corner” positions on my upstairs bar as currently seen here.
IMG_6576.JPG

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Soberiquet

I got into whiskey in 2013, mostly Scotch, but I made a point of buying any 50 ml bottle I came across that I had never tried. I picked up a mini 4 Roses SiB in early 2014. It was one of the first premium bourbons that I tried. I enjoyed it but was not impressed enough to buy a bottle. I tried it a number of times in the years following and maintained a positive view of it. I started picking up store picks of the various recipes, and earlier this year finally picked up a 750 of the standard SiB. I try to keep tasting notes on any bottle I get, so I have notes from 3 minis and a full size bottle.

 

Nose: 1. Floral corn syrup, hint of rye - mint, cloves
2. Rye, sweet bread, caramel and light vanilla, bit of prune
3. Rye, soft and sweet, dusty oak, caramel and vanilla, dill
4. Very creamy and spicy, Goetz caramel creams, nutmeg, a very delicate floral/vanilla scent that I can't really identify, some cardamom, and a bit of unfortunate "green" wood.

 

Palate: 1. Sweet up front, burnt caramel, something akin to pineapple/lime
2. Caramel and dark fruit, a bitter chalky wood note, well balanced, not overly sweet
3. Mild and fine but not getting much, some nice peppery spice
4. Gentle and full, then quickly spicy but not intensely so. Spices more in the savory range than the baking spices in the nose - a dash of cayenne, mildly sweet caramel.

 

Finish: 1. Long pleasing peachy sweetness, not much bitterness
2. A distinct mellowness with a little warming spices
3. Mild wood and char, hints of peach and caramel
4. Dry - dry wood and more gentle cayenne pepper, just a hint of smoky char and a touch of leather.

 

So, I am not sure what conclusions to draw from these notes. The typical Bourbon caramel is always present here but seems to be more restrained and less sweet. I also always get rye and spice notes, they are quite assertive but not overpowering. I think the finish tends to be my favorite part of these, but not sure what unifying factor there is - maybe peach and wood char. The finish tends to be "mild" in a positive way. 

 

Finally, does anyone pay attention to the warehouse or location on these? I never did until earlier this year when someone on this site said they prefer barrels from the lower floor. I checked my store pick tasting notes, and was surprised to find that My three highest rated bottles all came from floor 1 or 2 and from the North side of the warehouse. When I bought my bottle of the standard SiB I made sure it was from the same location, and it is a very good bottle. I suppose I prefer a slower, cooler maturation for 4 Roses.

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Phil T

Nice review, thanks. Just a FYI, all of Four Roses warehouses are single story, but the barrels are stacked 6 high. 😊

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Soberiquet
12 minutes ago, Phil T said:

Just a FYI, all of Four Roses warehouses are single story, but the barrels are stacked 6 high. 😊

Oh yeah, I knew that at one point, but had forgotten. Thanks for the catch!

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dean_martin

4RSiB was an early favorite of mine.   After opening my first bottle over 10yrs ago, I returned to the same store to get another one from the same barrel.   The balance of discernible flavors and heat was a revelation - sophisticated and "well-organized".  On the down side, I tried a couple of AL ABC picks a couple of years ago that didn't seem to be as refined as the standard release.  

 

I just returned from a 5-day trip to Philadelphia to visit my son and his family.  We picked up a bottle for our stay and it reminded me of that revelation 10yrs ago!  We finished it before I left.  I think master distiller Elliott has settled in nicely.

 

edit:  BTW, glad to see the site back up and running.  Stay safe!    

Edited by dean_martin

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TwoFingers

FRSB is always in my rotation.  I'm in agreement with others in that I find it quite consistent.  Floral and fruity with some spice.  Price has been creeping up, which is a little disconcerting.

 

I brought it one evening to have with a friend and his son who had never had any FR product.  The son took one sip and said "Yep, that's good whiskey."   Another convert.

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NDN98

Ive always thought the regular 100 proof single barrel was a good pour, but haven't bought one in several years due to the fact I have been picking up 4R SiB store picks recently as I have been wanting to try all 10 recipes (still need to find 3 more to mark them off my list, OBSO, OBSQ, and OBSK).

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GoCubs85

Getting harder to find in NC and ABC has pricing locked in at $42.95

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fishnbowljoe
6 hours ago, GoCubs85 said:

Getting harder to find in NC and ABC has pricing locked in at $42.95

Ouch!  I can usually find it in my area @ $31.99-$33.99. 
 

Biba! Joe

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Jav

Good timing on this one!  I haven't seen 4 roses single barrel in Tucson for at least 6 months.  And then last weekend they had some at total wine again.  I picked up a bottle.

 

As I said I haven't had the single barrel at all in awhile.  I'm pretty sure the last bottle I had was in March of 2018.  But this one is excellent.  It tastes a bit spicier to me than I remember it being.  I've always thought the small batch was spicy, but I didn't taste it much in the single barrel.  In any case I get a spicy creaminess that I really enjoy, and surprisingly little heat for 100 proof.

 

Add the fact that it's only $32 at total wine when they have it and it's a great deal for a quality bourbon.

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