Age: 10 Years and 6 Months
This bourbon smells overwhelmingly of tobacco. Closing my eyes and sniffing the glass is like shoving my head into a (well-stocked) cigar humidor. On the tongue, it’s more of the same – dark, tobacco flavors mingling with woody, cedar spice. After a few moments, a very pleasant wave of red berries surfaces through its heavier predecessors. The overall effect is terrific, although now seems a good time to note that OBSV formula Four Roses Single Barrel is one of my favorite bourbons. Bluntly, I’m picking up what this whiskey is putting down. I’m being painfully clear about it because it’s useful for readers to know how their tastes align (or clash) with mine when evaluating the reviews on this site. And if you’re looking to understand many of the qualities and flavors I seek in a currently-produced, sanely-priced bourbon, this would be a reasonable place to start.
This bourbon tastes well-aged without suffering any of the glaring downsides of time spent in the barrel. There is no unpleasant dryness, for example. Nor does the woodiness outweigh the more delicate red berry flavors in this whiskey. At 61.6% alcohol, it is drinkable neat, but there is plenty of heat on the tongue. Most Four Roses Single Barrels I’ve tasted take well to water or ice, which is how I typically drink them. And this one falls right in line. A splash of water doesn’t do much to open up the nose, but man, does it limber up the goings-on in my mouth. The red berry sweetness is amplified and some previously-hidden mint makes its way through the wood. The mouthfeel remains pleasantly thick and oily, too. Whether consumed neat or with water, the finish is fairly long, and the combination of high proof and tobacco flavors leaves me chewing at my cheeks for minutes after my last sip.
Complaints? Hmmm. Well, it did cost me $60, and even after finishing the bottle I’m still overweight. Thanks a lot, Four Roses. And despite adding water and/or ice, there’s still more alcohol on the nose and tongue than I’d like. For all the lovely subtlety of the flavors in this bourbon, they’re always in peril of being clouted into oblivion by the burn. Overall, though, this is really enjoyable bourbon. I almost – ALMOST – wrote that I wish I’d bought another bottle or two from K&L, but one of the great things about Four Roses is that their bourbon is relatively easy to find. No, I won’t uncover any more of this exact bottling in the future, but odds are solid that I’ll turn up another excellent retailer-selected bottling of OBSV formula Four Roses Single Barrel. And at a time when more and more whiskies are becoming “rare” and “collectible,” that’s a relief.