Here is the third entry in my Four Roses recipe roundup. Already posted this week: head-to-head reviews of OESQ and OBSQ barrels and of OESV and OBSV barrels. I really liked both barrels of the the Q, preferring the low-rye OE selection a little more. I was less excited about both V barrels, preferring the high-rye OB in that case. What will be the story with this pairing, which features the O yeast strain? Four Roses says it imparts rich fruit, light vanilla, caramel and full-bodied texture—that should put it right in my wheelhouse. Let’s see.
Once again, these are both store selections. They’re also both 10 year olds, though the OBSO is at a whopping 60.6% abv to the OESO’s 52.6%!
Four Roses 10, OESO (52.6%; single barrel for Liquor Barn; from a bottle split)
Nose: The first impression is of citrus (lemon) which might be a first for me with bourbon. Corn and toasted oak below that and some mild rye spice. The acid goes from citrus to cider as it sits. No interesting change with water.
Palate: Starts out bright as well with the toasted oak below. Mild caramel below that and some cinnamon. Very well balanced. Nice mouthfeel. The oak expands and develops a bitter edge as it sits. Water throws the balance off: mostly just bitter oak now.
Finish: Medium. The oak is the main thing here, picking up some menthol as it goes.
Comments: This is a decent bourbon. Well balanced, on the whole; perhaps tipping a shade towards being over-oaked on the palate. No major flaws (well, until you add water) but also nothing to get excited about. As with the OESV, I picked up more rye here than I was expecting to. An extra point for the unexpected bright citrus.
Rating: 83 points.
Nose: Closed at first, as expected but as it opens up there’s caramel corn, toasted oak and some of that acid here as well. With water there’s a cereally, almost bready note and a much bigger rye pop; the acid is still here too.
Palate: Pretty much as it first presents on the nose. Surprisingly drinkable at full strength and yes, it does have a nice, full-bodied texture. On the second sip there are softer and sweeter notes: toffee, light maple syrup. The rye’s here too but it’s in good balance with the other notes. With more time the rye comes to the fore (spicy rather than herbal). More of the rye still with water and now there’s some pine and a bit of dill.
Finish: Long; the caramel corn eases into a toffee-like note and then the rye pops out and takes it home. Spicier here too with water.
Comments: A richer, better version of the OESO. Even better balance and no off-notes of any kind. Quintessential bourbon but not much more.
Rating: 85 points.
Comparison: Once again I am surprised, given my general preferences, to like the high-rye OB version better. Again, these are just two single casks and neither may be very representative but I thought the OBSO had much better balance. And the citrus aside, as with the V recipe barrels, this seems a more conventional bourbon profile than either of the Q recipe barrels. So far, with all limited sample size caveats noted, the Q recipe is definitely my favourite. Only the F and K to go now.