November 9, 2014

Revenge of the Roses Part 4! - Battle of the Limited Edition Single Barrels!

Ok, now we're really into it.  This week we've been through all ten of the Four Roses recipes.  We've explored the different mashbills.  We powered through five different yeasts with each mashbill and figured out the distinctive qualities of all the different beasts that make Four Roses such a complex brand.  Now it's time to put our training to the test and dive into four years worth of hand selected Limited Edition Single Barrels.  We're going to compare our notes on each recipe with the single barrel expression and see if our theories (and taste buds) can keep up.

Four Roses 2011 Limited Edition Single Barrel
(58.9%, 12-Years, OBSQ)

In Theory: The 2011 Single Barrel is an OBSQ.  So as a "B" mashbill it should be hot and spicy, and with the "Q" yeast, it should be a blend of fruitiness and spiciness.

Notes:  Well it's definitely got the heat.  This one is kind of just a burner.  Is the fruit there?  Guess so, but honestly this one is just not our favorite.  It's come in last place in every 4R tasting we've done, so we're calling this just kind of an "off" barrel.

Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Single Barrel
(51.9%, 12 Years, OESK)

In Theory: The 2012 is an "E" so it should be more mellow and soft.  The "K" yeast we had tagged as creamy and lightly fruity.

Notes:  Yes, we definitely get the orange creamsicle thing going on here!  But also this one has a lot more bite than the other barrel sample we tried.  It's a lot better than the 2011, but still not really hitting that awesome rich Four Roses signature that we're looking for.  The finish particularly is right in that creamy citrus pocket.  Kind of like those orange Tic-Tacs...

Four Roses 2013 Limited Edition Single Barrel
(59.7%, 13 Years, OBSK)

In Theory: We had this pegged as straightforward spicy bourbon with a little roundness and buttery base.  It didn't make our top four choices of all the recipes.

Notes:  It's a total knockout.  By far the best of the Single Barrels.  Totally different from the recipe sample.  This just goes to show that careful barrel selection can be more important than even the ingredients and recipe that is used.  The richness of this bottle surpasses both the others easily as well as all of the 10 samples we tried previously.  But the richness and smoothness are matched with a powerful spice, leather, tobacco, and warmth.  Really a beautiful bottle.

Four Roses 2014 Limited Edition Single Barrel
(56.5%, 11 Years, OESF)

In Theory: This was one of our favorite of the recipes.  Mellow but still very spicy and rich.

Notes: It's lovely.  A lot of mint really dominating the nose.  Like nosing a mint julep! Some fruit, and a little spice.  It's hot for an "E".  There's definitely a richness to the 2013 that's missing here, but it's very fresh and minty and nice.  We'd put it second to the 2013, but beating out the other two.  If you love minty, fruity bourbon, this may be a favorite for you.  It's actually pretty similar to the 2012, but this barrel shines a bit more.

On To The Big Boys

Alright, 14 Roses down, now we're on to the big boys!  Tune in tomorrow for the big conclusion with four years of Limited Edition Small Batch!

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