Let’s keep the bourbon reviews going a little longer, and let’s stick with the highly useful reviews of bourbons that are no longer available and were not widely available in the first place. This Four Roses single barrel was another bottling by the secret society 1789b—they who are the keepers of the True Cross and guardians of the location of the only known copy of the suppressed Hardy Boys mystery, The Secret of the Warren Commission. No, the “Paws & Claws” bit doesn’t refer to the exciting activities they get up to at group meetings on full moon nights: I’m told proceeds from this bottling (or some fraction thereof) benefited the animal rescue group, Paws & Claws. That’s a good thing.
On the label it says this is 9 years and 8 months old. That’s a longer way of saying it’s 9 years old.
Four Roses Single Barrel (50%; OBSV; bottled by 1789b to benefit Paws & Claws; from a sample received in a swap)
Because I am such a bourbon maven I am able to tell you that OBSV means that this was originally bottled for Serge Valentin. I guess after all his crimes against wet dogs he was willing to donate it to an animal charity instead. What a great guy!
Nose: Honey and orange peel and light toffee/butterscotch. The toffee notes expand and are joined by a lot of rich, golden caramel; light hints of spicy rye below all of that. Just gets richer and richer (and stickier) as it sits (honey/caramel/orange peel). I could nose this all evening: just lovely stuff. With a lot of time more of the rye notes pop out on the nose as well. A few drops of water mellow it out again but bring out some dill.
Palate: Leads with the citrus—spicy wood cuts through quickly and then the sweeter notes arrive. More oak presence on the second sip but the honey and orange peel are right there with it. Not a whole lot of rye presence. The wood keeps expanding as it goes but never becomes overbearing; and yes, the rye is out more fully now along with some clove and some cinnamon. Gets spicier as it goes. Hmmm water is not very good for the palate: it gets quite herbal and the wood gets a bit astringent.
Finish: Medium. The spicy notes dominate here; gets a little thin with time. More depth and longer with water but those herbal notes from the palate predominate.
Comments: A great, great nose. The palate is a little below that; but the finish is where it’s a bit of a letdown (no development, nothing of interest). Despite being from Four Roses’ B, or high rye mashbill, this is not particularly rye-forward, at least to start. That must be down to the influence of the V yeast strain, which is supposedly the delicate one. (Yes, yes, at this point even I know what OBSV actually refers to.) With time it got spicier and I have to say I liked the palate better before that. Anyway, lovely stuff: up there with most of the Small Batch Limited Editions I’ve tried.
Rating: 89 points
Thanks to Sku for the sample!