My first whiskey review…
I can’t claim to be an expert on bourbon in any way, shape or form. Living in Alberta, Canada, whiskey just isn’t the whisky of choice, with scotch and Canadian whiskies dominating the market. Needless to say, my experience with bourbon has, to this point, been fairly limited. Of course, I’d tried a few of the mass-produced mixers and, to be honest, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would choose to ruin their cola with them!
In the past couple of years, however, I’ve noticed that a couple of my local liquor stores have been expanding their selections of bourbons, particularly of the more premium varieties, and I found my curiosity piqued. Recently, I decided to stop window shopping and give bourbon another go. I didn’t have much to base my decision on but the bottle I chose was Four Roses Single Barrel because I liked the rich colour of the spirit and because I thought it had an attractive bottle presentation. This bottle, which comes from warehouse DN and barrel 1-5E, according to the hand written label, is bottled at 50% abv and cost me about $45.
To the Eye
As I noted, the rich colour of this whiskey is what first drew me to give it a try. In the glass, this Four Roses Single Barrel displays as deep copper with obvious flashes of orange. My usual swirl of the glass reveals a thick oily sheen that eventually releases moderate but extremely stubborn legs.
In the Nose
Corn, obviously, but it quickly gives way to a sweet honey-like aroma that also carries a malty cereal. But there’s way more on this nose… Cinnamon briefly dominates, along with a fruity, almost banana bread character. As the dram breathes, a few other baking spices and oak make an appearance. It’s a great nose that deserves some time to be appreciated.
On the Tongue
Honey? Maple syrup? Corn syrup? I believe it’s all three, but not nearly in the overly sweet way that it sounds. There is a sweetness, but it’s more like the suggestion of sweetness that comes off the delicate flavours of vanilla and caramel. Oak, for sure, and I can taste the char from the barrel in there too, which combines to be a little like burnt sugar. Spicy rye and a hint of cinnamon warm up my palate, before giving way to a surprisingly pleasant dark-chocolately and nutty bitterness. The thick, oily mouthfeel of this dram ensure a long finish that offers a lingering sense of baking spices, citrus pith and pencil shavings.
I didn’t know what to expect when I grabbed this bottle off the shelf but I have been pleasantly surprised. Obviously, it’s not scotch and it’s quite different from a Canadian whisky but it’s delicious – definitely a dram with a lot to offer and that deserves respect. It’s rich and complex and can be appreciated for each of its appearance, nose and flavour. Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a dram that has made me an instant fan of another whisky style, and it will definitely not be the only bottle of Four Roses to find a home in my cabinet. I enjoy this whiskey so much that I’m damned near willing to classify it as a favourite even though I’ve only bought a single bottle… if I still think so highly of the next bottle, I will be re-ranking it among my faves!