Here is the second installment of my Four Roses recipe roundup. For details on what I’m doing check out this post from last week. And see here for my head-to-head review of two single barrels, one low-rye (OE) and one high-rye (OB) made with the “Q” yeast. Today’s head-to-head features the “V” yeast, which is said to impart light fruit, light vanilla, caramel and a creamy texture. In today’s pairing the OESV is at a higher strength and is two years younger but I’m starting with it anyway as I expect the higher-rye recipe will be bolder in general (and it’s not like 57.6% is very much lower anyway). Today’s barrels are also store selections—I’m not sure where these stores are located or what their reputations are vis a vis single barrel picks. Anyway, I really liked yesterday’s OESQ/OBSQ pairing; I’m hoping these will at least match them. Florin (the man who filmed the moon landing) predicted that I would like the “V” yeast recipes the best but he also enjoys plum brandy so who knows what that is worth.
Four Roses 9, OESV (59.2%; single barrel for Crown Liquors, from a bottle split)
Nose: Corn, dusty oak and some cinnamon; slightly varnishy. With a couple of minutes in the glass there’s a cereal note and also herbal, rye notes. Starts opening up with time: richer notes of caramel now and some vanilla and toffee too. Water pulls out more of the dusty oak and more spice but it’s still more balanced here than on the palate.
Palate: Woodier arrival with cinnamon mixed in; more rye presence here than on the nose. Gets sweeter and then more tannic as it heads to the finish. Even woodier on the second and third sips; some pepper too now along with the cinnamon. Water pushes the wood back and pulls out sweeter notes.
Finish: Long. Spicy and dry wood; not astringent but more wood-driven than I would like. Far less tannic here with water too but still quite woody and spicy.
Rating: 82 points.
Comments: This was a far more conventional bourbon profile, more anonymous than yesterday’s OESQ. And while this is almost certainly a single barrel issue, it was a bit too oaky for me on the palate (I liked the nose more once it opened up). And I can’t say that the texture was noticeably creamy.
Nose: A slightly rounder version of the OESV; some hints of red fruit (cherry) but not particularly rye-forward. Gets richer as it sits but the rye’s not any more pronounced. With more time the rye notes expand (more of the cherry, some mint and pine too) and there’s more corn sweetness too now. With water there’s more vanilla.
Palate: Much less woody than the OESV and better balanced on the whole. Sweeter on the second sip with a bit of citrus. With more time there’s more rye here too. Spicier with water (but not woodier).
Finish: Medium-long. The fruit continues into the finish where it’s a little more cough-syrupy in general. As on the palate with water.
Rating: 84 points.
Comments: I liked this more but it too is a much more conventional bourbon than yesterday’s OBSQ. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but this is a profile that’s easily found from other distilleries as well.
Comparison: I don’t have a lot to add to the comments above except that the rye notes were almost more noticeable, at first anyway, in the low-rye OESV than in the OBSV. Probably just down to the vagaries of these two single barrels (and perhaps the difference in age has something to do with it too).