I made sure I didn't stay up too late on Wednesday as we had an early start to Four Roses on Thursday morning. We were due at Cox Creek, the warehousing facility at 9:00 a.m. The drive to Cox Creek was short from the hotel and we arrived shortly before 9:00. The guard waved us on through and we proceeded to the bottling house. I'll tell you that Four Roses does a magnificent job putting together tastings. They are very attentive to detail and the presentation is very nice. Due to the size of our group, we had to double up and share tasting stations which wasn't a problem; unless you're next to the guy with a fever blister.
In attendance from Four Roses was the warehouse manager, brand ambassador and master distiller Jim Rutledge. Jim did an awesome job hosting the tasting and sampled while he talked to the folks as we worked our way through 9 samples. Three of each recipe was brought out; OBSV, OBSQ and OESK. The three recipes break down as follows:
OBSV – 60% Corn – Delicate, fruity, spicey, medium body
OBSQ – 60% Corn – Floral (rose petal), spicey, medium body
OESK – 75% Corn – Spicy, full body
Tasting through these samples at 9:00 in the morning is an interesting venture. To be honest, probably the best time to taste would be early morning as the palate is at its best, unadulterated condition (I'm not suggesting this become a normal routine). We took our time and after about an hour began to collect the tasting notes and scores in order to rank the 9 barrels.
I think I've mentioned before that Four Roses is not a favorite of mine although a small group of us selected a barrel last year that turned out to be one of my favorites. The standard Four Roses Single Barrel offering is the OBSV recipe and surprisingly, this ended up the being the group pick at 70% of the tasters preferring barrel #3, OBSV recipe. This barrel yielded 126 bottles and came out of the barrel at 116.7 proof. The one thing I do like about Four Roses is the low slung warehouses which allows the whiskey to age at a more graceful pace which many times yields a bourbon at a lower proof.
After we finished up the tasting, we all piled back into our respective rides for the 50 mile trip to the Distillery in Lawrenceburg. It should have been an uneventful ride with the exception of one wiseacre feeling the need to offer the obligatory mooning on the Blue Grass Parkway….nuff said about that.
We arrived at Four Roses and gathered at the Gazebo which overlooks the Distillery and gift shop. The fine folks at Four Roses set up a nice boxed lunch as well as a well stocked bar of various Four Roses products. While the group munched and sipped away, Jim Rutledge provided an oral history of Four Roses and took questions as needed. After lunch, we broke up and the group headed out on a distillery tour….except for a couple of us that cornered Jim for additional conversation. We asked some follow up questions which Jim was more than happy to answer.
All in all, it was a great time and my hat is off to Jim and the fine folks at Four Roses for their graciousness and generosity in spending a whole day with a group of folks who are nothing more than enthusiasts of all things bourbon.