By Kurt Maitland
This release tends to be the high point of the Four Roses’ annual schedule, the one where Master Distiller Jim Rutledge gets to play with the distillery’s 10 distinct bourbons varieties and craft a unique experience each and every year. The upshot of that is that Rutledge doesn’t repeat himself and knows how to showcase his bourbons.
Per the Four Roses website the letters for their releases means the following –
O = Designates produced at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY.
E = The mashbill that is 75% corn, 20% rye, 5% malted barley.
B = The mashbill that is 60% corn, 35% rye, 5% malted barley.
S = Designates straight whiskey distillation.
V/K/O/Q/F = Yeast strain used to create flavor characteristics.
So this release’s recipe (OESF) is an 11 year old – 75% Corn, 20% rye, 5% malted barley. So now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s discuss what to expect from this year’s release.
Whereas many limited releases have a variable alcohol content from year to year, this one has variability within the release itself, so your Four Roses 2014 Single Barrel could be between 108.3 and 127.6 proof (54.1% and 63.8% abv).
Nose: Floral, Vanilla, Oak, Hint of Honey, cloves and carmel candy
Palate: Ripe stone fruits with a floral sweetness followed by a cinnamon wallop that hits you the longer you hold it on your tongue. This is a very peaceful dram for a barrel strength release. The mouthfeel is very balanced and smooth, little oily at first that becomes slightly drier as the cinnamon driven heat comes to the fore.
With water it gets a little drier and the cinnamon/spice note becomes more prominent.
Finish: Long finish, cinnamon and spicy
This is another stand out for Four Roses and Jim Rutledge. At this point, a bourbon fan has to keep room on their shelf for this limited release every year.
$80 plus and that’s if you can find it. As with most limited releases, watch for price markups.