I picked up this private selection Four Roses Single Barrel OBSK at McScrooge’s in Knoxville, TN. It was aged 9 years, 3 months in Barrel QS 88-3D and bottled at 59.2% ABV on March 13, 2014. If you don’t know the different recipes of Four Roses, then this is their high rye mash bill (60% corn, 35% rye and 5% malted barley) fermented using their K strain of yeast (full-bodied flavor with light spiciness). For comparison, their regular Single Barrel uses their OBSV recipe, which employs the same mash bill with the V yeast strain (creamy with delicate fruitiness).
I’ve been collecting private barrel selections from different stores in order to gain a wider varied sampling of the Four Roses recipes and, at this point, I’m only missing the OBSO and OESO. The remaining 8 recipes have been collected from 4 different stores and I’ll eventually plan to review them all, although too late for you (or I) to secure any more. 😉 In any case, here is what I learned of this OBSK.
Rich caramel with light barrel char are the first to greet your nose, followed by sweet tobacco, straw, cocoa and dark cherries. Water brings out some spiciness, otherwise everything remains the same.
The taste is consistent with the aroma, with rich caramel, light tobacco, marzipan, straw and just a hint of cherries and a light dusting of cocoa. After a few sips, the cherries become a bit more prominent as the finish becomes long and spicy with lingering bitter caramel, tobacco and the light fruitiness. Additional spices – ginger, pepper – join in around mid-palate before that long finish arrives. With water, the spices remain moderately bold, while tobacco is somewhat subdued in favor of the fruit and some candy, specifically lemon drops and red hots appear. The mouthfeel improves a bit too as the whiskey becomes nice and chewy without the alcohol drying out the palate. In the end, you’re left with lingering marzipan, cinnamon and dark cherries with a nice, leathery feel that just goes on for a long time.
This is a an excellent whiskey for sure, combining the spiciness of rye with the lightly spicy strain of yeast to create a lively dance of spices across a montage of barrel flavors while the barrel proof ensures that the flavors remain full and the oily texture endures. I picked up this bottle two years ago for about $60, but I suspect that similar offerings should still be available for a similar price, although Four Roses private selections aren’t as prominent as they were back then. If you can find some, then I highly recommend exploring at least the OBSV, OBSQ and OBSK. I can’t wait to try the other eight recipes!