Joint Review: Scott aka ATXBourbon
Many of you are familiar with the reviews of Scott from atxbourbon.com We met on the subreddit r/bourbon where he still posts as u/atxbourbon (formerly u/scottmotorrad). I’ve respected his reviews for quite some time and got to chatting with him recently as we bonded over our love of Four Roses. I didn’t realize it, but we were both shooting for the same goal: trying to obtain all 10 recipes of the Four Roses line.
Four Roses OBSQ
Eventually, I was able to help him source an OESO and he helped source me an OBSQ to complete our lineups. But he also got the same OBSQ for himself because who could pass up a store pick of Four Roses? Then I approached him about the idea of doing a joint review on this bottle since we both were going to drink it anyway. My intent was so that our readers could see that reviews are more than just sitting alone trying to dissect tasting notes, they can also be about learning about each other’s experiences in life through whiskey.
Mike: So while we start tasting this bottle, tell me about the bourbon scene in Austin. How many groups are there? How easy is stuff to find?
Scott: It’s pretty great TBH. We find a lot of mid-range Buffalo Trace stuff that’s hard to find elsewhere. We also are lucky that we’re considered a test market for new stuff like when the Four Roses Small Batch Select came out. There are several bourbon groups and most are pretty active. How’s your bourbon scene in Indianapolis?
Mike: I’m pretty sure this city has one primary bourbon group called the Indy Degenerates. They do raffles and lotteries and barrel picks with the local liquor stores. I think they partner with Rural Inn the most, although I might have heard they’ve co-picked with others. They usually split the barrels and make their own labels for the bottles. There’s probably 4 main stores that people latch onto to get their allotments outside of the raffle season. We have a lot of easily accessible Buffalo Trace stuff up here as well. Eagle Rare, BT and even some EHT products can be pretty regular finds.
Scott: How many Four Roses picks has Indianapolis got this year? Austin got probably 4 total.
Mike: That’s crazy! I was in Denver in June and I found at least 4 Four Roses store picks in various stores in just that one week. I’d say most of our big chains got 2 each and then one chain, Crown Liquors, got like 8 picks. I heard a rumor that they entered a barrel pick into a spirits competition (San Fran maybe?) that really made Four Roses happy, so they’ve blessed them with more picks. I don’t know how long that’ll last though. Speaking of Four Roses, what are your top 3 recipes that you’re always looking for?
Scott: I’d have to say OESQ, OBSO and probably OBSQ.
Mike: You sir, have a crazy top 3. But I’ll tell you what, I fucking love this OBSQ we’re sipping on.
Scott: I love the Q and O yeasts. I could have given you a troll answer and said “the mutant V yeast” though, lol. What are your top 3?
Mike: That’s tough, but I’d probably say OESK, OBSF and OESO. I say it’s tough because I’ve only had one OESO and it’s a gold neck and it blew my socks off.
Scott: K? That’s my least favorite. I’m so glad that 10+ year Four Roses picks are becoming easier to find though (proceeds to show me a picture of 10, 11 and 12 year picks from the Austin area)
Mike: Damn, I keep seeing only ~9 year picks around here. I even have scooped up two 8yr Xmonth picks recently. I guess our stores like ’em young. So what are your top 3 favorite brands or distilleries of bourbon right now?
Scott: Four Roses, Joseph Magnus and Heaven Hill. How about you?
Mike: Heaven Hill?! I did not see that coming based on your recent reviews. But you do love your “Cigar Blend” so I can definitely see your love for Joseph Magnus. I’d have to say Barrell, MGP (not necessarily their own stuff, but the stuff they source in general) and Four Roses.
Scott: Yeah, Heaven Hill. The Old Fitzgerald Decanters are some of my favorites. I’m also a real big fan of Elijah Craig picks as well. I still have a jug of dusty EC12 that I’m almost scared to drink anymore. I like MGP’s Remus Repeal well enough too, but they haven’t put out a lot of their own brands yet.
Mike: So which bottle or bottles are you really anticipating in the near future? It could be a bottle that doesn’t even exist, but you want it to exist…like…15 year MGP Rye finished in Apple Brandy Casks, lol.
Scott: My top 3 I’m anticipating are the Four Roses 2019 LE, the new low proof GTS and the Old Fitz 15 year decanter. How about you?
Mike: Old Fitz 15 year is high on my list as well. I’d also love to get the Remus Volstead if I could. I’d also love to see Barrell Craft Spirits come out with a Rye #3 or a Whiskey #6 (not another Dovetail batch though, something different).
Scott: So what are some of this year’s biggest letdowns in terms of whiskey to you? Mine’s Cream of Kentucky.
Mike: I’d probably have to say this Joseph Magnus store pick I got from Potomac Wine and Spirits that was only finished in Sherry Casks. It was pretty awful.
Scott: Yeah, that review was rough. I also tried a sherry finished Magnus from Total Wine that was probably the worst Magnus I’ve ever had. Maybe it’s a difference between PX sherry vs. Oloroso? Anyway, I thought you’d say the Smooth Ambler Old Scout Single Barrel Select!
Mike: Dude, the response after I wrote that review was crazy. Even the owner of SAOS chimed in like a week after it was published. He seemed to take it somewhat personally. As for the differences between sherry casks, I don’t personally know what makes them different.
Scott: I’d like to learn more about sherry and brandy since whiskey is finished in them so often.
Mike: Me too. So should we start comparing our tasting notes with each other on this OBSQ?
Scott: Let’s do it:
Tasting Notes: Mike
Nose: Lots of great flowery scents like lilacs and roses. I’m also getting some toffee which I didn’t expect to get on a “Q.” There’s vanilla frosting as well. Candy Corn, raspberry jam, cedarwood (light and fragrant) some barrel char
Palate: Lots of bright, fruit and flowery traits. Ginger root, sticky toffee, mint, herbal essences, some citrus leaning towards orange and grapefruit. Red pepper flakes, ground cinnamon and clove. A little bit of cherry licorice
Finish: Lots of pink grapefruit! Fun! There’s also a bit of dry loose leaf tobacco, cinnamon spice and pink bubblegum. Licorice Candies also give that pungent “anise” scent.
Tasting Notes: Scott
Nose: Sweet and floral with honey and oak notes
Palate: More floral honey and oak with some warm baking spices and a very viscous mouthfeel
Finish: Very long and slightly dry with floral and oak notes that are tannic without being bitter. It’s all balanced with a touch of spice.
Mike: It’s hard to describe sometimes what I mean when I talk about floral notes, but this bourbon’s got ’em. I sometimes feel like I never stopped to smell the roses enough in life to really differentiate.
Scott: Oh me too. Floral is just “floral” for me. I can’t tell flowers apart.
Mike: Yeah, it’s really hard for me too. Lilacs and roses are two flowers that I am most familiar with, but honestly I get more of a baseline of my flowery scents from the scented soaps that my wife always buys. Can you tell different woods apart? Because I smelled cedar for a wood on this and you got oak. It just seemed so light and fragrant though.
Scott: I can tell some woods apart. Like Oak vs Pine vs Aspen. I don’t really know what cedar smells like.
Mike: Aspen?! Now that’s a wood I need to smell! And you’ve never had a little treasure/memento box that was made out of cedar as a kid? That’s how I can remember that scent so vividly. That and putting together two children’s playsets out back that always use cedar wood for some reason.
Scott: This scent is woody, but it’s not Pine or Aspen to me, lol! I lived in Utah for a while and was a snowboard instructor and Aspen trees were all over the mountain. That’s how I remember that scent so vividly. And no, I never had a cedar box, I keep stuff like that in a desk drawer.
Mike: For my notes on the palate, I got more bright floral traits and fruit, but I swear with this recipe, I’m getting so much pink grapefruit. I know my pink grapefruit too because I drank so much of it every day when I was deployed in Iraq (we always had tons of it in juice boxes for some reason). I loved that bitter citrus taste for some reason. It’s a surprise that I didn’t destroy my teeth with all of that acid. I’m also picking up on those baking spices just like you did, though.
Scott: I think the floral honey note for me could be a fruity adjacent and I do get a little of the bitterness you talked about, but I associate that with oak. I suppose it could be citrus. I love grapefruit juice though and when I worked at Google, we had a juice bar that I would drink grapefruit juice most days.
Mike: Well hell, my citrus could be me just not recognizing oak when it bites me in the ass! Lol. I grew up in a neighborhood full of red oak trees. I remember their smell when they got cut down, but I never really gnawed on it. I also think liking bitter stuff is a guy thing. I hate sour beers though.
Scott: Yeah, I’m not a sour beer person for sure. I do like IPAs though. As far as oak goes, red oak and white oak are surprisingly different. When I was in Scotland, we got to smell American white oak barrels and European oak barrels and they were really different. This barrel of OBSQ really is fire though.
Mike: Agreed! Thanks again for finding it for me. So are you ready for some rapid fire questions to end our review on?
Scott: Sure! Fire away
Q & A
Mike: What was the first bourbon you ever had?
Scott: Oh man, I’m not sure. Probably Jack Daniel’s or Evan Williams. Yours?
Mike: The first one I was really aware of having was Eagle Rare because one of my Army buddies was nuts over it and insisted I try it. Next Question: If you could only buy one bottle for the rest of your life at the price you actually paid for it recently, what would it be?
Scott: Ha, that Bardstown bourbon finished in apple brandy barrels since it was free! Otherwise, Four Roses 2017 SmBLE. And yourself?
Mike: Maybe that Smoke Wagon Desert Jewel. It was only $79.99 and I pay a lot more than that for those Barrell Bourbons these days. Next Question: What bottle do you think gets reviewed too much on our native review site, Reddit?
Scott: Evan Williams BiB (and I hate it). How about you?
Mike: Probably Eagle Rare. Seems to get reviewed weekly. Like I’ve said before, I’m guilty as well, lol. Next Question: What city do you think is the best city for hunting and actually finding bottles that you want?
Scott: Well, now I think it’s Denver with all of those Four Roses picks you talked about! How about you?
Mike: Probably Austin for me! Last December I was there and had the opportunity to go to only one liquor store. I walked in to a random liquor store near Ramen Tatsuya (best ramen in the US!) and they had Stagg Jr, WFE Rye 4 year, Balcones True Blue Cask Strength and a few more allocated bourbons just setting on their shelves at retail. I now believe that every store in Austin is like that! Next Question: What Four Roses recipes do you find the most and the least when hunting for them?
Scott: I’d have to say I find OBSV the most and I find any of the O recipes the least. How about you?
Mike: I think OBSF and OESQ are the recipes I find the most. Probably because they set on the shelf the longest. I also agree that O’s are extremely hard to find. Ok, Last Question: You obviously like finished bourbons. What kinds of finishing barrels do you like the most? The least? And which one do you wish you’d see more of?
Scott: Favorites: Brandy’s, Cognacs and Armagnac. Least Favorite: Beer barrel finishes. One I’d like to see more of? Rum finishes.
Mike: Awesome! Well now that it’s getting pretty late, I suppose we better wrap this up. This was a great bottle and doing this review joint was really eye-opening. I am finding out that a lot of people perceive tasting notes based on what they experienced growing up and it might not be that they can’t identify certain things, it’s just what they’ve experienced them as throughout life. This was a lot of fun and I think we should do it again!
Scott: It was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed it too.
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