Every year there are hundreds (maybe thousands?) of single barrel Four Roses picks in the US. As I have became more familiar with them, it’s fun to see how many picks out there are similar to each other. Lately I’ve seen certain recipes coming from the same warehouse and what’s more, that the barrels were extremely close to each other.
Today’s example includes two barrel strength OESK recipe picks that were picked 2 months away from each other. Molly’s Liquor Store out of Denver, CO has an OESK pick that was 10 years and 2 months old that was bottled in April 2019, from Warehouse MW and is barrel number 31.3B. BevMO, out of California, had their OESK pick that was 10 years and 4 months old that was bottled in June 2019 also from Warehouse MW and is barrel number 31.2P. They are also within 1.4 proof points from each other.
Do all of these similarities mean that these bottles are going to taste similar? The only way to find out is a comparison review. These were both sampled semi-blind, neat and from glencairns.
Blind Glass #1:
Nose: This dram has some great oak spice scent front and center. A rich caramel/brown sugar sweetness coupled with fried apples makes for a deep and sweet nose. I also find lots of vanilla bean scents to round it all out.
Palate: A pleasant wave of spice, like Hot Tamales Cinnamon Candy. There some nice rye spice and herbal notes like peppermint. The sweetness is very delicate, like honey wafers. All of these flavors are very robust and compliment each other well.
Finish: Following closely behind, even more cinnamon heat and a little bit of sweet chili oil give a satisfying level of heat while the rest of the finish offers some tannic sources of drying oak, dry tobacco leaf and barrel char. But the finish does not become too drying thanks to a sticky sweet toffee flavor wrapping around the tongue for a long finish.
Blind Glass #2:
Nose: Sweet maple syrup scents coupled with vanilla beans and cherry blossoms starts the nose out with a lovely sweetness. There’s a nice hint of spices like cinnamon raisin toast. There’s some charred wood that helps balance out the layers of sweetness followed by an interesting amount of wood cleaner lurking in the background.
Palate: The spicy heat of red pepper flakes and cinnamon are well restrained. There are some sweet and tart cherries and oak to contrast the spice, but overall it’s not as sweet as Glass #1.
Finish: The finish has more mint and sweetness than Glass #1. There’s a nice methanol cooling effect. The sweetness that sets on the tongue is like a light syrup, and also has a little bit of cinnamon that adds some nice depth.
Nothing as magical as glass 1 had and it seems different because the spice seems heavier and the finish is fantastic in glass 1. Glass 2 seems younger.
Glass #1: Molly’s Liquor Store OESK
Glass #2: BevMo! OESK
Winner: Molly’s OESK!
My initial thoughts are that Glass 2 was nowhere near as magical, deep or robust as Glass 1. The spice seemed heavier and the finish was fantastic in its intensity and depth. Glass 2 also seemed considerably younger tasting on the tongue, even though I knew while drinking these two that only two months separated them in age. Looking back through my notes, I notice that the profile of flavors and scents are remarkably similar. I reflect back to my comparison review between two OBSQ’s that were almost like drinking different distiller’s products, so this was interesting to finally see two similar recipes of Four Roses being much more similar.
In the end, I wouldn’t recommend that you should be tasting before you buy a Four Roses Private Selection, because I generally think you can’t find a bad one. However, there are always going to be ones that are better than another. If anything, by collecting the ones you find, you’ll begin to appreciate the characteristics of each recipe and how they align with your tastes.
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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