Monday, September 21, 2009

An Exercise in Tasting , Four Roses Style

As promised, here are the results of the Four Roses tasting I hosted yesterday. First, you couldn't ask for better weather; clear skies, mid 70's and a slight breeze. Perfect.

Nine of us gathered together and conducted a tasting of Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon. First, let me just say that these are a great group of guys and we really had a good time.

We didn't waste any time and started right in with the tasting. We had four bottles of FRSB and before we started, I bagged all four bottles to hide the identity of each bottle. I had everyone pour a sample of each into their glass and asked each one to do a quick taste of all four and give me their pick for which one they liked best. I didn't let people take too long on making a decision as I wanted to get quick first impressions.

After we went around and everyone gave me their quick pick, I removed the bottles from the bags so they could see what we were going to be tasting. I also handed out a packet that contained a little info on Four Roses and the 10 different recipes they use in their bourbon. I also had an explanation of each bottle we were going to try:


Standard Single Barrel

120th Anniversary

40th Anniversary

Limited Edition






Recipe Mashbill & Flavor Profile

60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Barley - Delicate Fruity, Spicy, Creamy

60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Barley - Spicy Full bodied

75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Barley - Fruity (Red Berries), Medium Body

75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Barley - Floral, Banana, Fresh, Medium Body

Bottling Year






Less than 10 years

12 years

13 ½ years

11 years






I also included a section where they could rank each quality (1-5 for color, nose, palate, finish) of each bottle and then come up with a total score.


Color (1-5)

Nose (1-5)

Entry (1-5)

Finish (1-5)



120TH Anniversary

40th Anniversary

Limited Edition

Folks took their time examining the color, nosing the bourbon, tasting and re-tasting, re-re-tasting, contemplating the finish and then ranking each category.

After we completed the tasting, we went around and discussed the following:
After doing a more thorough tasting, did your initial pick change over the final? At the initial quick pick, 5 chose the 120th Anniversary and 3 picked the Limited Edition 2009 (one person arrived late and didn't participate in the initial taste). After the tasting, impressions changed and the 120th scored even higher with 7 selecting that and two selecting the Limited Edition. In the scoring from highest to lowest it was 120th, Limited Edition, 40th and Standard. As you can see from the info above, we had 4 different recipes with a split between two high rye and two low rye.

We also discussed the impression that most folks who have had the 40th and 120 side by side, people picked the 40th. With our tasting, 120th won hands down. We also discussed if after tasting Four Roses, would you include this brand as part of your normal bourbon rotation. For the most part, folks said they would with a couple that said they were still unimpressed with Four Roses.

After the tasting, we got to eatin' and enjoyed a kitchen full of BBQ chicken skewers, smoked pork butt, bourbon baked beans, pierogi with sautéed onions and a green salad. For dessert we enjoyed a homemade upside down apple pie and some ginger molasses cookies.

Now that everyone had a full belly, it was off to the front porch for cigars and to taste a lineup of all things dusty. On the table:

1969 Old Crow 10 yr 86pf
1974 Old Fitz Prime 86pf
1979 Early Times KSBW 80pf
1980 Old Grand Dad 114
1980 Old Fitz BIB 8 yr
1981 Old Taylor 86pf
1982 Eagle Rare 10/101
1982 Jim Beam White 80pf
1983 Old Forester 86pf
1988 Old Forester BIB
90's Wild Turkey Split Label 12 yr 101
1995 Old Weller Antique 7/107

The two favorites of the lineup was the 1980 Old Grand Dad 114 and the 1969 Old Crow.

If you are interested in hosting a bourbon tasting, it's not hard and there's plenty of info on the web that provides guidance on the do's and don'ts of tasting. Also, feel free to comment or contact me if you have any questions.


  1. Greg did an outstanding job putting this tasting in place. A real eye opener given conventional wisdom has seemed to pick the 40th as the be all, end all of the 4R barrel proof releases.

    Well done Greg!!


  2. Great blog and love the dusty hunting threads! Read about it on Cowdery. Keep up the good work.

  3. Thanks RB, enjoyed your participation as always.