Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Single Barrel Bourbon
Opened: August 25, 2012
55.1% Alc/Vol (110.2 proof)
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – 12 years old
Barrel Strength, non-chill filtered OESK recipe
Warehouse: SN ; Barrel #81-3M
Tasting Date: October 11, 2012
Color in glencairn glass: Buttery brown.
Nose: Baked green apple, lime rind, vanilla frosting, fried dough, cinnamon, clover honey. The alcohol is waxy and sinus-numbing, but not particularly hot. Creamy.
Taste: The entry is sweet and clean, and the palate brings vanilla frosting. The finish shows spicy green fruits alongside stubborn wood. The wood here stands separate from the other flavors; instead of acting as a vehicle, it shows up alone and unintegrated. There is a high sugar end to this bourbon, but its counterpart is an undefined creamed cereal. There’s a lack of balance here that makes the whiskey feel ungrounded. Cinnamon butter cookie, honeyed raisins and apple tart all make brief appearances. The proof here is well-handled, but overall it’s a bit one-sided for me.
Four Roses often takes my breath away; this one does not. Too much unanswered acidity, which I tend to attribute to the low rye recipe of the ‘E’ mashbill (75% corn, 20% rye, 5% malted barley); perhaps a higher ratio of rye would have brought more balance.
This review comes from the second bottle of this expression I bought. The first one displayed more rich, creamy corn notes right at the beginning, but after being open for only a few weeks, the taste fell off a cliff, the finish disappeared, and the bourbon just completely changed for me – in a bad way. Bottles that are part of a single barrel product are always potentially subject to wide variation, so I decided to give it another chance, especially since I have read other opinions that are much more positive than my initial experience was. This second bottle has now been open for almost two months, and unlike my first bottle, the flavor has remained intact. It’s just not a flavor that I favor.
This is the first limited edition release from Four Roses that I have no desire to put away for future enjoyment. In general, I tend to prefer the higher rye ‘B’ mashbill from Four Roses. I also tend to prefer the more exotic Four Roses profiles that bring astringent, floral notes to the table rather than the sweet corn-forward flavors that this edition offers. For me, this example of a bourbon bottled straight from the barrel is a wasted opportunity.