Original background on this pick:
Alright friends, I am finally back from Kentucky and ready to share the details.
First, a little background. My great friend of many years (Vercingetorix, AKA Joe) is getting married in the fall, and I have the tremendous honor of being his best man. He is a true lover of American whiskey - bourbon and rye alike - so it seemed just too obvious what we should do to celebrate. Joe, myself, and two other gentlemen (including njdc2) in his wedding party set out for Kentucky on Thursday, driving 11 hours before arriving in Louisville, in time for a little ‘whiskey palate calibration’ and dinner.
We arrived at 9:45AM the next morning at the Four Roses warehousing & bottling location in Cox’s Creek. We pulled into the lot just as Jim Rutledge was getting out of his car. He led us into their brand new barrel selection room, where the ten barrels were there waiting for our arrival. This new room was a nicer and more formal setting than the one we encountered last year, in which we tasted from a lone table just off the bottling line floor.
We chatted with Jim and had a little Q&A while things were being set up, and then went one-by-one getting our glasses filled with samples straight from the barrels. There’s nothing quite like those little bits of barrel char in the bottom of each glass to remind you you’re drinking right from the source.
We did a first pass of smelling and tasting, then a second pass, and then revisited some individual samples. I realized pretty quickly that we had a great overall line-up - last time we were able to eliminate at least 3-4 on the first pass, but this time it seemed like at least eight of the barrels were really solid. Jim agreed that he had trouble kicking any of the samples out of the mix outright. That said, out of this very good line-up, there were three that did stand out as having something special.
We talked through the differences between these three, tasting, smelling, and re-tasting. As we deliberated over the course of the first hour, we noticed how a little air and a little time affected the samples. The candied orange peel that I had originally noted in the one was fleeting; it had almost completely faded, leaving a whiskey that was, while delicious, somewhat unremarkable. The black cherry in another had started to give way to a more traditional barrel character, which wasn’t a bad thing, but it had lost some of its unique charm.
After all this time, one of these three favorites - an OBSK at 10 years and 8 months of age - was still as alluring as it had been on the first sip. The nose is char & spice all the way. On the palate, it has a distinctly rich mouthfeel, leading with that spice again, balanced by waves of caramelized sugar, molasses, and subtle suggestions of candied fruit. As you roll it over the tongue and swallow, these waves lead into this seemingly everlasting finish, easing out from brown sugar to the slightest hint of ginger right at the end. I could drink this stuff all day.
Bottling will take place next month, and then the bottles will be available once they get to our partner out in California. We’re selling these through a different retailer this time, so the process will be a little different but should still be easy enough. I’ll follow up when we have more info. We are hoping to do the Barrel #003 pick as soon as October, so there will be more info on that in the coming months as well!
Original background on this pick:
I'll be returning to Bardstown this Friday - so, I figured, if I'll be in the neighborhood anyway, why not go ahead and swing by Four Roses and taste through another suite of barrels?
It's been about a year since we selected barrels 001 & 002, and so while the official barrel selection committee (AKA Michigan and co.) are indeed working on planning our next OFFICIAL pick, I figured we could all use some more of that tasty barrel-strength juice, particularly as rumors swirl about the old stock on certain recipes running dry.
(Seriously, I'll be out there for other reasons, so this just seemed like a good opportunity to get us some more delicious bourbon. This will not be the official barrel #003 pick - more info on that TBA soon, hopefully.)
So, I wanted to get a thread going for a few reasons:
So, first thing's first - you have the opportunity to influence the pick here, so what characteristics do you guys seek out in a Four Roses private selection at barrel proof?
- Gather your thoughts on flavor preferences (high-rye with interesting/fruity/spicy notes seemed to be the prevailing opinion last time).
- Extend an invitation: If anyone in the area tastes bourbon often and wants to join us at the Four Roses warehouse & packaging facility on Friday morning to help with the tasting and selection process, please send me a message ASAP!
- I'll use this thread to fill everyone in on the selection process, the characteristics of the barrels, and eventually the availability of bottles.