Four Roses: OESF + OBSF

Four Roses 10, OESF (for Prestige Liquors)
My planned Four Roses recipe roundup went on an unplanned hiatus after the first three entries in November. I’ll be finishing up now before the year is out. To refresh your memory, I’m reviewing paired single casks of the OE (low-rye) and OB (high-rye) mashbills made with a different yeast strain each time. I started out with OESQ/OBSQ, went from there to the OESV/OBSV, and then to the OESO/OBSO. The original plan had been to do the K strain next and end with the F. However, people who know better recommended I flip the order of the last two, and so here I am now with the OESF/OBSF pair. As with the previous pairs, both of these bottles come from single cask selections made by liquor stores. This series got off to a very good start for me with the Q strain; I liked the V and O a little less. Here’s hoping the F will be closer to the Q casks in quality. The F strain is said to be the most herbal one, and I’m interested to see if that means that this will be the most rye’ish of the recipes. Let’s see how it goes. 

Four Roses 10, OESF (55.1%; single barrel for Prestige Liquors selection; from a bottle split)

Nose: Reminiscent of the OESQ (which is good news), with honey, orange peel, mild toasted oak and then some caramel corn. As it sits it does indeed get quite herbal (dill) and then more floral.

Palate: Sweeter and more herbal still on the palate; some pine too. Very drinkable at full strength. Gets spicier and oakier as it goes. Richer with water and a bit sweeter; everything’s more integrated now.

Finish: Long. The spice (cinnamon) is the dominant note here.

Comments: Good, solid bourbon without any flaws. I liked the nose a lot; the palate was a bit generic neat but very nice with water.. Perhaps because of the herbal yeast strain, this doesn’t taste like a low-rye mashbill bourbon.

Rating: 85 points.

Four Roses 11, OBSF (for Aquistapace's)
Four Roses 11, OBSF (61.8%; single barrel for Aquistapace’s; from a bottle split)

Nose: Much more closed to start. Some orange peel, some cereally notes but other than it’s hard to pick anything; none of the herbal quality of the OESF, at least at first and second sniff. Let’s give it some air. Yes, it opens up a bit and it’s not unlike the OESF: more orange peel, some light syrup and some toasted (but not spicy) oak; gets more herbal with more time. With a lot more time (>20 minutes) it really begins to open up with more fruit (some apricot too now) and some softer notes of toffee as well. Water continues the fruity progression and there’s a hard candy sweetness too now.

Palate: Drinkable but hot. Not a whole lot register beyond spicy oak (not tannic). With more time there’s the same citrus-oak complex but it’s more tightly wound. Opens up further with more air and it’s certainly more herbal and spicy here. More fruit here too with water but also more oak (still not tannic); gets a little leafy too.

Finish: Long. Nothing but oak at first. Spicier here too with time. As on the palate with water.

Comments: It took a while to get going and open up, but once it did I really liked this one. I do think it’s better brought down closer to the strength of the OESF.

Rating: 86 points.

Comparison: I expected that the combination of the herbal yeast strain and the high-rye mashbill would make the OBSF far more herbal and spicy than the OESF but I found just the opposite to be true on the nose; on the palate, yes, the OBSF was spicier. And I’m a little surprised to find that I liked the spicier, oakier one more. Hmm, this is the second Aquistapace’s selection I’ve quite liked.

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