Color: dark amber
Nose: toast, oak, honey, vanilla
Taste: honey, molasses, vanilla, stone fruit, ginger
Finish: long, hot & smooth
Value: Decent value.
There are several different versions of bourbon offered by Four Roses: “Yellow” (aka: Four Roses Bourbon), Small Batch, and Single Barrel are the three you’ll likely come across. They offer more than those three, but those are the standards here in the U.S. of A.
Today, we’re reviewing Four Roses Single Barrel, the most expensive readily-available variety.
The bottle is done up all purdy in a decanter-style with a real wood & cork stopper and a leather strap around its neck. Ostentatious is the word that comes to mind. But, the cork is a satisfying affair I’ll let you come to grips with on your own.
At 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume) this is the hottest bourbon in my house at the moment. Yes… I have no Bookers. [sadness] This is also the hottest bourbon I’ve reviewed to date.
Let’s not mince words: Four Roses Single Barrel is a fiery hot roller-coaster ride of bourbon bliss.
So, you’ll remember that I said in a recent review that I’d encountered high-proof bourbons that were complex. Four Roses Single Barrel is one of those bourbons. Once you get past the high-proof burning your nostrils, the scent is provocative. It’s thick like honey or corn syrup. But it carries in that thickness all the barrel notes of the finest bourbon: vanilla, toast, charred oak, walnuts, honey, and a slight floral scent.
Four Roses Single Barrel is a fiery hot roller-coaster ride of bourbon bliss.
Your first sip of this stuff… well, I’ll be honest: I winced in pain. The “whiskey burn” I was expecting; I wasn’t prepared for this. Four Roses Single Barrel is a punch to the throat. And that burn doesn’t stop til it hits your belly.
I’m always saying that I like a booze that sits up and announces its presence… a booze that exemplifies its category. Yeah, Four Roses Single Barrel fits that bill.
You need to be serious about your bourbon if you’re going to drink Four Roses Single Barrel. I’d say that it’s “A Man’s Bourbon” but I know several women who could knock this stuff back and call it “okay.” Still, you get the idea.
Again, once you’re past the burn, the flavors that this stuff delivers are surreal. Honey, apricots, cherries, toasted walnuts, vanilla and hint of citrus all dance around your mouth as the 100 Proof alcohol singes your tongue. Ever hear someone say, “It hurts, but I like it”? Well, that’ll be you after a hit of this.
Putting this bourbon over ice opens up a whole new world of flavor. The cold water from the ice melting helps stave off the high-proof burn, allowing you to taste more of what this palate pleaser has to offer.
Ever hear someone say, “It hurts, but I like it”? Well, that’ll be you after a hit of this.
Four Roses Single Barrel is as close to that mythical Be-All/End-All of Old Bourbon Terroir as Buffalo Trace gets, but for different reasons. If the American Pioneers of the late 1700’s had this stuff, I bet they could have bribed the Redcoats to leave with just one barrel.
Now… the price tag is moderately cha-ching. But, at just $4 more than Knob Creek, it’s totally worth it. Seriously, Four Roses Single Barrel versus Knob Creek… no contest. Four Roses wins hands down.
I’ve had at least three people tell me: “Oh, Eagle Rare. That’s my favorite bourbon.” When I ask them, have you had Four Roses? They have each replied, “No.” And then I say, “That why Four Roses isn’t your favorite.” (The exception to this rule: singer/songwriter/entertainer Marian Call. She too claims that Eagle Rare is her favorite. When I mentioned Four Roses, she replied, “Oh yeah. I really like Four Roses, too.”)
Now you’re asking yourself… at $35 a bottle, should I mix with this fine bourbon? I say YES. I created The Black Bourbon with Four Roses Single Barrel. Based on the reaction from friends, I should never use any other bourbon in it. If you do want to mix with it, I recommend:
- The Black Bourbon
- The Manhattan
- The Monte Carlo
- The Chapel Hill
- The Kentucky Corpse Reviver
- The Devereaux
I’ve mentioned The Chapel Hill before… with a certain lust to my tone. Four Roses Single Barrel was MADE for that cocktail. The best Chapel Hill I’ve ever had included Four Roses Single Barrel as its base.
If I could only ever have one bottle of bourbon in my house and was allowed to pay no more than $45 for it: Four Roses Single Barrel would be it.
Final Rating: 93 out of 100