Whiskey Name: Four Roses Single Barrel
Distillery: Four Roses
Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Release Date: General release
Price: Hovers around £40 unless you find it on a deal
ABV: 50% ABV
Mashbill: Standard Four Roses ‘B Recipe’ (60% corn, 35% rye, 5% malted barley)
Introduction/Background: If you were to say “Four Roses Single Barrel is the best bourbon you can find in the UK for under £50” you wouldn’t meet with a vast amount of disagreement. Assuming you discount Weller 12, which you might as well given your odds of finding a bottle, there are really only one or two mentioned in the same breath.
Four Roses famously boast 10 different recipes; two mashbills with five yeast strains. Their standard single barrel range always uses the OBSV recipe, which translates as high rye, and the “delicate fruit, spicy and creamy” yeast strain.
Don’t think we need much more pre-amble for this one, do we? Let’s dive straight in.
Appearance: Deepish tan.
Nose: Dry and oaky. No mistaking the rye-heavy element. A toffee popcorn thing happens in tandem, whilst the smatter of dill and touch of char keep things lifted. There is a fruit character in dried apricot form, and then suddenly bags of cinnamon and sawn wood. Balanced, but heads towards the dry side of the spectrum. Medium (+) intensity.
Mouth: Viscous, honeyed palate, but again the spice of the rye comes spearing straight through. Those spices are both sweet and dry; a two-pronged attack of cinnamon and nutmeg. Alcohol is perfectly weighted; it’s a prop to support flavour and body – in no way impedes or distracts. Not especially deep, as the rye is so lively, but complex and complete.
Finish: Spices crescendo then revert to a toffee popcorn finale.
Value for Money: About as good as it gets.
Summary: 35% is a heck of a lot of rye for a bourbon recipe. It’s only 16% less than Rittenhouse rye boasts, so if rye isn’t your thing, then this isn’t for you.
But that’s about the only reason I can see for not buying a bottle of this. Granted, at £40 it’s a price tier up from supermarket bourbons, but if that’s your objection then please, for me, wait a little while longer and buy a bottle of this instead of your usual pour. I promise it’ll be worth it.
Overall Verdict: At some point I need to line up all the contenders for “best bourbon under £50 in the UK” and taste them blind. If this was outside the top 2 or 3 I’d be very surprised.
Words by WhiskyPilgrim