Four Roses has spiced up the direction of its limited-quantity special bottlings with the newest entry, the 2012 Limited Edition Single Barrel Bourbon, a barrel-strength whiskey made from a yeast strain especially prized for the zesty flavors it delivers.
The distillery has been flexing its whiskey muscles with this series since 2010. The companies unusual practice of maintaining five yeasts and two mashbills allows it the latitude of painting with 10 different distinct flavor, and the Limited Edition marque showcases that.
The latest wrinkle is a 12-year-old, carrying the production code OESK. That designation indicates that it is a straight whiskey (aged in new charred barrels with no artificial coloration or flavoring) made with the yeast strain K. The letter E refers to a mashbill, or grain recipe, that includes 75 percent corn, 20 percent rye and 5 percent barley.
Because the other Four Roses mashbill, letter B in place of E, includes even more spicy rye (35 percent), this whiskey serves as an object lesson in how yeast can affect the flavor of whiskey.
Master distiller Jim Rutledge decodes the possible yeast designations (the last letter in the four-character code) as:
- Light, delicate fruit
K - Spice
O - Rich and full-bodied fruit
Q - Floral essence
F - Herbal essence
He also recommends the whiskey for consumption neat or on the rocks.
Approximately 4,000 bottles of the Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Single Barrel Bourbon are now being distributed in the U.S. market. For years, Four Roses straight whiskey was sold only overseas and in limited areas in Kentucky and Indiana.
The newest releases of Four Roses have proven a boon to drinkers who enjoy a whiskey with a cigar. The latest is no exception.
(Tasting notes and cigar pairings on next page)
2012 Limited Edition Single Barrel Bourbon, tasted from barrel no. 81-2B from warehouse SN (105 proof or 52.5 percent alcohol, about $85 -$90)
APPEARANCE: Dark amber color and tight, slow legs.
NOSE: Big bouquet of caramel with charred smell of a toasty crème brulee. Then comes the candied smell of roots.
PALATE: Spice explodes immediately on the palate with strong cinnamon. As it calms, it reveals dried nuts as well as fruity notes of red berries that open up a bit with water, revealing cherries.
FINISH: Spice just keeps going on the back end with a lip-smacking quality. Lingers on and on.
Tatuaje La Vérite 2009 Churchill (93 points, Cigar Aficionado)
A Churchill puro made strictly from Nicaraguan components. A complex pairing with an excellent give-and-take. The cigar makes the whiskey even spicier and the whiskey becomes a sweetness-seeking missile to the cigar. As you smoke it down, more flavors reveal themselves, including the cigar’s innate coffee and leather and the whiskey’s fruity character.
Macanudo Royale Poco Gordo (91 points, Cigar Aficionado)
A squat cigar made in the Dominican Republic of Ecuador wrapper and filler from Nicaragua, the D.R. and Brazil with a Dominican Republic binder. The smoke exenuates the spiciness of this whiskey, but the whiskey seems to overtake the natural nutty and coffee notes of the cigar. However, the Macanudo seems to lengthen the already pleasant aspects of the Four Roses finish, making it go on and on.