Four Roses Single Barrel

Aah, another nice day, another cigar and some Bourbon tasting. In the glass today is a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel. This is 100 proof and has been aged 8 years and 5 months. It sells for around $39.00.

Speaking of the bottle, this one makes for a great presentation. It’s shape reminds us of the Southwest. It has a cool grouping of roses etched into the glass and another in red on the label. The bottle also sports a leather band around the neck. It is also a corked bottle which we happen to like.

Most of Four Rose’s Whiskey’s are pretty readily available. I have actually found the Single Barrel in a local supermarket. They have several versions of the Single Barrel, we have tried several, not a huge difference between them.

NOSE

Ron:  Has a sweet, fruity, leathery nose.

Todd:   I thought it had a good nose of new leather, candied green apples, and spice. Almost seemed like smelling a rye.

TASTE

Ron:   I could also taste the leather and the fruit, specifically the fruit, it seemed a little like pears. It has kind of a hot punch at first sip, but mellows quickly. I found this to be much improved with one ice cube that had partially melted. Took a little of the heat off and opened up the flavors some.

Todd:   On tasting neat, I thought it was a little hot and somewhat rough. I could taste the spice from the rye but not the apples that I smelled. The 8 years in oak came through in a nice way. It also seemed to have a full body, almost thick and creamy. I was not a huge fan until the ice/water, the flavor really blossoms and the heat goes away.

FINISH

Ron:   It had a mid to long fruity finish.

Todd:   Decent finish but not much else, couldn’t really taste much of anything different.

OVERALL

Ron:  Decent Bourbon especially if you like a lot of Rye in your juice.

Todd:   I liked it but not sure it was worth the price.

Nose      3 out of 5

Taste      7 out of 10

Finish     3 out of 5

Total score        13 out of 20 Barrels

Overall, with all the hype that seems to surround this Bourbon, we were not greatly impressed. Not to say it is bad, but we have friends who rave about it. It is also prominent in some local high end bars. Some even having their own hand selected barrels.

At this price, we expect a little smoother and a little more of a taste profile, as well as a longer more distinct finish. And as we have stated, we do take price in consideration.

Now it does make a pretty good traditional bourbon cocktail.  Part of that being the proof and part being the strong rye. And don’t get us wrong, with some ice we really liked sipping it.

This is also an example of a high rye, it has 65% corn, 30% rye and 5% barley. So it is not a bad item to have in your cabinet. And remember, a lot of Bourbon connoisseurs like this better than we did, another reason to have a bottle handy.

And don’t forget, the bottle makes for good presentation.

Old Fitzgerald Prime

Today we are sitting out on the screened-in porch smoking cigars and enjoying what we think is one of the best bottom shelf Bourbons on the market, Old Fitzgerald Prime. This name is one of the oldest in Bourbon, going back to 1870. Old Fitz is also tied to some legendary names in the Bourbon business.

John E. Fitzgerald first made the stuff then sold it to Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, yeah that Pappy Van Winkle, who tweaked the recipe by replacing the rye with wheat as the second ingredient after corn.

For years it was produced by Stitzel-Weller Distillery, another legend in Bourbon lore. Also owned by Diageo, and now Heaven Hill.

It sells around $13 to $14, and is bottled at 86 proof. We could not determine an age and it comes in a screw top bottle.

NOSE

Todd:  The nose, to me, screamed butterscotch/toffee and a little bit of fruit.

Ron:  I got a nose that reminded me of a bowl of vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and some kind of fruit topping.

TASTE

Todd:   Tasting neat it comes through as one of the sweetest Bourbons I have ever sipped. I could taste the toffee and the butterscotch, but not as strong as I smelled it. Also got a little woodsy and fruit flavors, but not real strong. In fact nothing really jumped out as a dominant flavor. Just real smooth. Adding ice/water really didn’t do much for me. I did like the chill the ice brought, but as for the taste, it just diluted everything.

Ron:  It tasted pretty close to what I smelled with the addition of butterscotch and a little citrus. I really enjoyed it neat. Adding water just diminished all the flavors.

FINISH

Todd:  It finishes sweet, short and with not much flavor change.

Ron:   The finish was a somewhat long and sweet.

OVERALL

Todd:  Good stuff, would be a good Bourbon to use those Whiskey stones instead of ice.

Ron:  Very good, especially considering the price.

Nose        4 out of 5

Taste        7.75 out of 10

Finish       2.25 out of 5

Total Score        14 out of 20 Barrels

Since we dink a lot of Bourbon we are always on the look out for a less expensive way to feed our habit. If you like wheated bourbon, this stuff is a steal. We really can’t think of anything at that price point that taste near as good or is as smooth.

If our go to Bourbon under $20 is Weller’s Special Reserve, our go to under $15 is Old Fitz. At this price it can be used as a mixer, though we might shy away from Manhattans or old fashions due to lack of complexity and sweetness.

Bottom line is that for $13, you just can’t beat this.

In fact, it’s so cheap we are enjoying a third glass.

Maker’s 46

Maker’s 46 is the Maker’s Mark mash bill but aged a little longer and finished aging with toasted french  oak staves inserted into the barrel. Notice we said toasted not chared. This supposedly gives it a more mellow, sweeter finished product.

It clocks in at 94 proof, and while there is no age statement on the bottle, we were able, with the help of the internet, to determine it to be aged approximately 5 to 7 years. Usually sells for around $35.

Like Maker’s Mark, 46 is a wheated Bourbon. Meaning they use wheat instead of Rye as the secondary grain behind corn.

NOSE

Ron:  The nose brought caramel, vanilla, oak and spice. I just couldn’t put my finger on which spice it was.

Todd:   From the nose I got oak, sweetness, and a smell that reminded me of a cedar box that had held cigars.

TASTE

Ron:   Tasting it neat, I got all the same flavors as the Nose. Oak, vanilla, caramel and that dang spice that I can’t name. This goes down real smooth for a 96 proof. Adding ice at first brought out more sweetness, and definitely mellowed it out some. Be aware, a little to much ice or water really diminished the taste and finish. Half a cube is good or if you like it neat, 3 drops of water.

Todd:   I got on the tongue, everything I got on the nose. Tasting it neat, I was really impressed how smooth this was. I will probably anger regular Maker’s Mark drinkers by saying it has one of the hottest, fiery finishes out there. I was expecting the same from 46, and did not get it. I believe this stuff was meant to be drank neat. It has a sweetness that just sits on the tip of the tongue. Adding ice was good, I now got a taste and aroma of honey. I agree with Ron, a little to much and it takes away from the experience.

FINISH

Ron:   Has a long finish of all the same taste.

Todd:  Has a nice, smooth, long finish.

OVERALL

Ron:   I wasn’t real impressed the first time I had this shortly after its new release a few years back. Either my taste buds were off that day or they have evolved. Because this is good stuff.

Todd:   This is good stuff, way better than the regular Maker’s mark.

Nose—–3.25 out of 5

Taste—–9 out of 10

Finish—-4.25 out of 5

Total——-16.5 out of 20 barrels.

As you can tell, we both really enjoyed sampling this stuff. At that price it is a definite deal, and one you should have in your cabinet. It is a great representation of what a wheated Bourbon can achieve. 46 also makes a great Manhattan and Old Fashioned.

Our final say, great neat, great mixed, great price, cool bottle, what more would you want?

 

 

Willett Pot Still Reserve

Willett-Pot-Still-Reserve                                                                                Today we are tasting the Pot Still Reserve from Willett. It checks in at 94 proof with no age statement that we could find. If you have never seen this stuff, it comes in what has to be one of the coolest bottles out there. Looks like a wine decanter, and we both have actually used it for that.

While hard to find at times, it can be found in most liquor stores that have a good Bourbon selection. Usually around the $40 range, even though we have seen it higher.

NOSE

Todd:   It has a pretty strong nose, with grain, oak and alcohol the most prominent. This is followed by a toffee like sweetness.

Ron:   I got a lot more on the nose than Todd. I could detect leather, pine, cedar as well as caramel and like Todd, alcohol.

TASTE

Todd:   Tasting it neat first, as we both do, I thought it was a little rough, especially at that price. While I could taste some of the sweetness, it mostly just tasted hot. On the other hand, let a cube or two of ice melt a little in the glass and you have a very different Whiskey. Now the sweet toffee and oak have a chance to shine.

Ron:   Tasting neat I thought a little hot, but still had nuances of spice and wood. Adding one rock, and letting it almost melt, brought out vanilla, even more spice and just an over all mellowness that I enjoyed.

FINISH

Todd:  It has a pretty long finish neat or with rocks. I still had a lingering taste 60 seconds after sipping.

Ron:    The Pot Still Reserve has a nice long warm finish.

OVERALL

Todd:    This is what I categorize as a traditional Bourbon, meaning it is Corn, Rye, with a little barley. Also a fairly complex drink.

Ron:   I definitely enjoyed my glass and would buy again.

Nose       3 out of 5

Taste       7 out of 10

Finish      4 out of 5

Total Score     14 out of 20 Barrels

This one was a hard one for us. At 94 proof we shouldn’t have to add so much water to bring out the taste. On the other hand, it is pretty good stuff once the water is added. There is also the issue of price. At $20, this might just be our go to classic style Bourbon, at $40, not so sure. There is a lot of good Bourbon in that $40 range.

This is still a Bourbon we would recommend having a bottle of in your collection. As said, it is sometimes hard to find and has a real cool bottle to impress your friends with.