I didn’t know much about Four Roses Bourbon other than that my friend Ingrid really, really likes it! We recently received a bottle of the Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon with the identification of Warehouse DS and Barrel 3-1I. Apparently, each of the Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon bottles come marked with their barrel identification and warehouse storage location. I thought that was pretty cool as bottles from different barrels can conceivably taste pretty different. It would be fascinating to track down a number of these bottles and do a taste test!
As I said, I didn’t really know much about Four Roses. It sounded vaguely familiar in that I must have seen it in the alcohol aisles at the grocery store kind of way. But, that is about all I knew. What I found was a fascinating history. A bourbon whose distillery seems to have survived Prohibition. A bourbon that was incredibly popular, arguably the most popular straight bourbon, in the United States in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s. Unexpectedly, its parent, Seagrams, stopped selling Four Roses Straight Bourbon in the United States and replaced it with a Four Roses blended whisky and its reputation plummeted. I would have loved to have been at that strategy meeting in the 1950’s. What were they thinking? But, Four Roses Straight Bourbon continued to be sold in Europe and Asia where it was appreciated by a thirsty audience. It wasn’t until the early 21st Century that Four Roses Straight Bourbon became available in the United States.
Once again, Four Roses is back and being enjoyed in its true state. Here is our tasting note for the Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon:
Appearance: clear, bright, medium copper color with golden hues.
Nose: clean, developed, pronounced intensity with notes of raisins, dried apricot, dried apples, candied apples, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and oak.
Palate: dry, medium plus acidity, alcohol fortified to high, medium plus body, pronounced intensity of raisins, dried applies, dried apricot, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, honey and oak. Medium plus finish.
Rating: Good to very good spirit. This is a fiery bourbon that puts the fire in your belly but has a nice, almost dessert like quality thanks to the apples and spices. Try in a Hot Cinn Apple Toddy (it’s been cold in SF lately) or a Kentucky Champagne Cocktail.
Photo courtesy of winesearcher.com