By 2018, it had become commonplace to see Four Roses Private Selections sporting age statements anywhere from 8 to 10 years old. If you were lucky, you may be able to snag an 11 year old recipe. But to find a Private Selection wearing a 13 year, 5 month age statement in this day and age is out of this world. There has to be a certain set of circumstances behind why a barrel like this came to be. Being located at the North side of Warehouse R and located close to the floor on Tier 1 seem like the right set of circumstances to achieve this extraordinarily high age.
For those of you who may not know what I’m talking about, the north side of any warehouse will receive the least amount of sun (therefore heat) influence. The height of the barrel inside the warehouse also dictates how much heat it will come in contact with, so Tier 1 is close to the floor while Tier 6 is near the ceiling.
I don’t know the specifics of how Ace Spirits came across such an old barrel, let alone one of the rarer recipes that Four Roses offers (that would be OESO), but I don’t question what is in front of me. In fact, it makes me want to drink it that much more just to experience this aged anomaly. So how does it taste? I sat down with my Glencairn to find out for myself.
Nose: “O” yeast strains are noted for their fruit forward character and this one doesn’t disappoint. Immediately I find aromas of strawberry shortcake followed by the scent of a strawberry and raspberry crème Frappuccino. Freshly cut ripe apples and cherry streusel continue to show just how fruit forward this nose is. Lighter notes of vanilla don’t get covered up behind the small amount of barrel char and melted caramel I also find.
Palate: The strawberry shortcake theme continues as cinnamon and other spices tickle the cheeks. Vanilla and brown sugar flavors offer traditional bourbon notes, but I start to get some flavors of coffee beans and dark chocolate, which is common for me with “O” yeast strains. The whole sip has a creamy texture and drinks a bit lower than its 107.8 proof suggests. Four Roses Private Selections always seem to lack oak (perhaps due to the Level 3.5 char of their barrels), but this one is the exception. The oak is exquisite and well integrated. Setting in a barrel for over 13 years has really paid off.
Finish: A nice leather tannic note sets the stage for a finish that shows just how aged this product is. The red fruits from the nose and palate have strangely faded away as the tannins set in even more. The oak spice is hard to miss, but never gets bitter or astringent. In fact, this may be one of the few Four Roses I’ve ever had where I can say that the tannins dominated the finish. It’s not a completely one-sided affair though, as spearmint and scorched toffee notes hang around as well.
In the end, I found myself really enjoying this single barrel. First of all, I can’t seem to find an obvious flaw in it. The strawberry notes on the nose and tongue were unique and fun while the oak was well integrated. But when I reflect on this bottle, I seem to circle back to only those two notes being the standouts.That’s not to say it didn’t make for a fine bourbon, but for a recipe as rare as OESO I was expecting a bit more chocolate or more complex flavors to dissect. However, the profile notes were all balanced and the low proof let you explore all it had to offer. Every sip was a joy to experience.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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