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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Four Roses Private Selection

The best bourbon you'll never taste.

As is often the case in life, "it's not what you know - it's who you know". We were enroute to our favorite Airbnb in the Bluegrass. The host messaged us and indicated that she had left something special in our rental for the week - just for us - and hoped it was ok. Sometimes, something falls right in your lap, and this was one of those times. In addition to the yummy breakfast goodies in the kitchen and baskets of chocolates throughout the suite was a tall bottle of bourbon on the dining room table.

Four Roses Private Selection

Four Roses is one of my go-to bourbons when I'm looking for something out of the ordinary. Four Roses Tan label is outstanding during the summertime when you're looking for something lighter; Small Batch is unique among bourbons with its floral and fruit notes; Small Batch Select is outstanding as the days shorten and grow chilly with its layered and more complex notes. But I have to say that Four Roses Single Barrel is probably one of my favorites when I'm ready to splurge (or can find it on sale at my favorite spot to shop in the Bluegrass).

The husband of our host is a retired equine vet who spent much of his life at the nearby Keeneland Race Track. His knowledge of the medical benefits of hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate) for joint related injuries in equine athletes allowed to to found a firm focusing on developing a similar product for human use as an orthopedic product.

As it happens, Four Roses was his favorite bourbon. As a gift to close friends, his firm purchased a barrel, allowing him to share his love of bourbon. When I saw the unique bottle as well as the age statement on the label, I texted our host, "Oh, you shouldn't have. This is incredible bourbon. I will truly enjoy this!" Today, like our host, you, too (and a few of your friends), can purchase your own barrel of bourbon and have the bottles all to yourself.

The Tasting

On our tour of the distillery, we learned of Four Roses' unique approach to distillate. The various finished products can be made from blends of two mash bills: Mashbill “E” = 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley, and Mashbill “B” = 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley.

Each of the mash bills can then be married to 5 different yeast strains:

K – spicy, full bodied

Q – slightly fruity, spicy, medium bodied

O – floral (rose petal), spicy, medium bodied

F – herbal

V – delicate fruit, spicy and creamy

A typical bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel typically ranges between 6-7 years and is bottled at 100 proof from a single recipe - OBSV. This is the higher mash bill with the fruity, spicy and creamy yeast profile.

The bottle our host had presented was aged 11 years and 3 months before being bottled in April 2014 - meaning this bourbon was distilled in early 2003 - before the recent bourbon boom! How cool is that! In addition, the bourbon from barrel number 2-10 was proofed at a hefty 108.6 following its aging in warehouse ME

Eye: lovely amber with a web of thin legs displayed in the Glencairn glass (also presented by our host - she wanted me to drink from a "respectable glass" as opposed to my normal "traveling rocks glass".

Nose: light and delicate floral notes along with layers of vanilla buttercream.

Palate: The mouthfeel is thick and rich. Layers of vanilla followed by a warm fruit compote accented with lighter floral essences.

Finish: Exceptionally long, smooth, and balanced with vanilla and toasted oak followed by peppercorn spice.

Overall: This unique bourbon was truly exceptional. It was perfectly balanced between sweet and savory notes with a rich mouthfeel that coated the entire palate. Lighter fruit and floral notes tend to get muted after too much time in the barrel. I absolutely loved this bourbon and the love behind it that shared this special bottle with me.

I began this review with the statement, "The best bourbon you'll never taste". That may be true ... unless, of course, you swing by my place. This is one that I'll savor slowly, and always with friends and family that love and appreciate America's native spirit.

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