The five different yeast strains that Four Roses uses make some of the most unique bourbons out there. The yeast strains are known to impart different spice levels, flavors and scents with their genetic makeup of how they process the sugars into alcohol. The mashbills they use also have a roll to play with the low-rye mashbills allowing for a lighter profile while the high-rye mashbills giving a spicier and slightly fuller flavor profile.
Today we look at two different private selections by two different stores for the OBSQ recipe. For the uninitiated, this is a high rye mashbill that uses the Q yeast strain and is said to impart floral and spicy characteristics with a medium body. As my search for more Four Roses private selects spreads, I have found OBSQ to be one of the harder recipes to find, which is why I was so excited when a store in Indianapolis was getting one.
Vine and Table
Vine and Table (Indianapolis) OBSQ Private Select comes in at a sweltering 124.8 proof but is only 9 years and 6 months old. It has a darker color than the Longhorn Liquors (Texas) OBSQ Private Select which is older (11 years old) but comes in at a lower proof of 108.4.
So let’s explore the OBSQ recipe by putting these two together in a semi-blind comparison to see the strengths and weaknesses and also which one is the better overall pick. I sampled both of these neat and in a glencairn.
Blind Glass 1
Nose: The nose is reminiscent of an old MGP rye whiskey because I’m immediately getting so much dark brown sugar. There’s also the fruity scent of baked pears, cinnamon stick, maple candies and vanilla buttercream. An interesting scent that I haven’t detected in a bourbon for a while is hiding in the background, but I swear I’m smelling bubblegum.
Palate: A pleasant amount of heat and rye spice burn. Cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes play nice and don’t run away with the show, but make you take notice of their power. There’s plenty of dark red fruits, rose petal tea, cinnamon coffee cake, and tobacco leaf for a nice balance of depth. The palate is impressively strong and complex.
Finish: The palate doesn’t exhibit a large amount of cloying sweetness, but the finish has some in the form of toffee. As the dram goes on, it becomes more drying, bitter and hot with notes of espresso beans, ginger root, black pepper, cardamom, clove, and peppermint. There’s also a decent amount of drying oak (I’m believing this to be a tad over-oaked) and leather.
Blind Glass 2
Nose: A very floral nose that reminds me of some previous OESQ recipes. There’s Honeysuckle, orchids, cherry blossoms, citrus/naval oranges, and some nice seasoned wood.
Palate: The palate has very little heat compared to Glass #1. In fact, it’s more of a smooth sweetness like honey or maple syrup. There’s some pepper flakes and cinnamon for heat, but mostly I’m getting more fragrant floral and botanical notes like rose petals and a spring greens salad mix. Some red fruits shows up in the background.
Finish: The finish has a very pleasant finishing oak and tobacco. Superb finish compared to glass 1. The floral notes keep with you right until the end.
Glass 1: Vine and Table OBSQ
Glass 2: Longhorn Liquors OBSQ
Winner: Vine and Table OBSQ!
The winner was clear from the moment I smelled Glass 2. Glass 1 was so much fuller, deeper and had more going on. Granted, Glass 2 tasted like what I expected an OBSQ to taste like considering that Glass 1 did not have hardly any floral notes, but that’s okay with me. The depth of the flavors were impressive and that dark brown sugar note on the nose really draws you in. The slight over-oaked finish keeps this from not going up in score even more, but overall, I really enjoyed the Vine and Table pick.
With the Vine and Table pick winning, I’m noticing the trend continuing with high proof Four Roses picks being significantly better than their lower proof brethren. And as far as this OBSQ recipe goes, I am a big fan of it and it has now become one of those “buy on sight” recipes that I will continue to enjoy from them.
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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