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Four Roses Private Selection: Barrel VI

Will Motley

Buying private barrels of Bourbon is truly one of the great pleasures in our line of work. In this case, sorting through a selection of master distiller Jim Rutlege's favorite ten or twenty barrels of Four Roses in search of one that fits our specific tastes.

Over the years, we've tended toward certain stylistic concerns over others: spicy more than sweet, firm rather than soft. But really, what we look for most is a whiskey to stand up and speak to us. We like surprises. And since we choose on taste alone, it's mostly about the raw encounter of what's in the glass. Not until it's been bottled and shipped do we know the age or proof of the whiskey. That part's always a surprise.


Today our latest selection arrived all aglow in amber light, filling the shop with the smells of the rickhouse. The goods? You bet.

Four Roses Private Selection
Recipe: OESO
Age: 11 years 11 months
Proof: 57.4%
Warehouse: CKWBN
Rack: 31
Tier: 2

Four Roses makes ten distinct recipes, based on two different grain bills and five isolated strains of proprietary yeast. The "E" in OESO signifies their so-called low-rye mash (75% corn, 20% rye, 5% malted barley), while the "O" signifies the yeast strain that is medium-bodied and typically fruity (red berries). Tier 2 Rack 31 means this barrel was aged in the middle of its rickhouse on the second level up, about six feet off the ground. Note the proof, 57.4%, which is low for barrel strength. Why? Because in cooler temps alcohol actually evaporates slightly faster than water, resulting in a finished whiskey in which the proof went down over time.

So. This one's got a lighter touch, but it's a gem. A shining, delicious gem. We fell in love with its curvy edges and its bright, inviting nose. Its drinkability. I think you will, too.

Fifty bucks buys you a piece of the pie.