Four Roses Recipe Roundup

Four Roses Recipe Roundup
No, I’m not cooking with Four Roses. I’ve recently acquired single barrel samples of all 10 of Four Roses’ bourbon recipes and will be tasting and writing them up soon. This post is to invite your feedback on my proposed tasting plan.

First, for those who don’t know: Four Roses uses two mashbills and five yeast strains. This means they have five recipes for each of their mashbills. This recipe is indicated on bottles (where relevant) by a four letter code. All the codes have O as the first letter and S as the third letter. The “O” identifies the distillery and the “S” indicates that it’s a straight whiskey. The second letter indicates the mashbill: “B” for the high-rye mashbill, which is 60% corn, 35% rye and 5% malted barley; and “E” for the low-rye mashbill, which is 75% corn, 20% rye and 5% malted barley. So all Four Roses recipe codes will start either OBS or OES. The fourth letter indicates the strain of yeast used. There are five of these: “F” imparts herbal notes; “K” imparts light spiciness, light caramel and full-bodied texture; “O” imparts rich fruit, light vanilla, caramel and full-bodied texture; “Q” imparts floral notes; and “V” imparts light fruit, light vanilla, caramel and a creamy texture. 

Now that we’re all caught up, here is how I plan to do it: each review will feature a pair that features a different mashbill but the same strain of yeast. And the plan is to go in this order of yeast strains: Q, V, O, K and then finally F. The idea is to go from lightest to spiciest. If my proposed order doesn’t quite match the plan or if you think a different order makes more sense as a progression please write in below. Similarly, if you want to make the case for the OB/OE pairings being less useful than pairing different recipes within the same mashbill, let me know that as well (though with five recipes per mashbill this will make “pairing” difficult).

In case you’re wondering about the specific casks, here they are (I believe they’re all store exclusives):

OBSQ: Aquistapace’s selection, 10 yo, 60.4%
OESQ: The Cove selection, 10 yo, 59.4%

OBSV: Calandro’s selection, 11 yo, 57.6%
OESV: Crown Liquors selection, 9 yo, 59.2%

OBSO: Wine and Spirits selection, 10 yo, 60.6%
OESO: Liquor Barn, selection, 10 yo, 52.6%

OBSK: Crown Liquors selection, 10 yo, 60.5%
OESK: Beach Liquors selection, 10 yo, 55.6%

OBSF: Aquistapace’s selection, 11 yo, 61.8%
OESF: Prestige Liquors selection, 10 yo, 55.1%

Within each pair I will taste the one with the lower abv first; (un)interestingly, in all but one case that’s the OB OE version—coincidence or the norm?

I plan to start posting these next week so feedback before the end of the weekend would be great (Saturday night is probably when I’ll start tasting them). Cries of “you’re overthinking it, just do whatever” will also be fine.

6 thoughts on “Four Roses Recipe Roundup

  1. I’d go with E before B, I found E to be generally milder (Arok did too, if memory serves).
    As for the order of the yeast strains I’m afraid you’re ending on a low note: F was disappointing. K is generally a crowd pleaser, some like Q, my favorite was V. I predict it will be yours as well, due to similarities with Japanese/sherried whisky.

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    • I’m weird. I tend to like F best. Also Q. The fruity, floral, herbal thing is different enough to make me take more notice than the ones that follow in the normal “bourbon” footprint.

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  2. Another F fan here to the point that i’d say you are in fact ending on a high note. Might want to consider K as the last in line if the goal is work toward the spiciest as that yeast is supposed to bring the spice to the party per 4R. I enjoyed the write up on the Qs, I had excellent luck with OESQ, OBSQ however was so bad that it has put me off getting another of that recipe unless I can try it first ( I believe the barrel had turned prior to bottling, it was THAT bad).
    Cheers!

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