Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Four Roses at Two Retailers: Binny's vs. Shopper's Vineyard OBSV
These days, retailers are offering some great single barrel bourbons. Among those offered by a number of the better retailers are single recipe versions of Four Roses Single Barrel. As many of you undoubtedly know, Four Roses has ten bourbon recipes (two mashbills x five yeasts). A number of retailers have purchased a barrel of each recipe so that consumers can compare.
It's fun to compare the different recipes and I would encourage everyone to try them all, but I thought it might also be fun to compare the same recipe bottled for different retailers. In this case, the Binny's and Shopper's Vineyard editions of the OBSV, which is the recipe used in the mass market Four Roses Single Barrel. OBSV uses a mashbill of 60% corn, 35% rye and 5% barley with the "V" yeast strain.
Shopper's Vineyard Jim Rutledge Selection OBSV, Distilled 7/20/01, Bottled 10/13/11, Warehouse KE, Barrel # 8-1E, 52.8% abv ($50)
According to New Jersey retailer Shopper's Vineyard, this barrel was hand selected by Master Distiller Jim Rutledge (note, Shopper's Vineyard is pretty big on hype so take it for what it is). Unfortunately, it looks like this bottle is sold out.
On the nose I get coffee beans and rye spice. The palate is very spicy as well with lots of rye notes and a chewy mouthfeel. The finish is cooking spices - cloves, ginger, allspice. A really nice, spicy bourbon.
Binny's Four Roses Single Barrel OBSV, Distilled 10/15/00, Bottled 9/24/09, Warehouse KE, Barrel # 8-1C, 53.8% abv ($55)
Chicago superstore Binny's still has this one available. It was aged in the same warehouse as the Shopper's Vineyard bottle, though it was distilled and bottled earlier.
The nose on the Binny's bourbon is very light with caramel and toffee. The palate is candy sweet but oak takes a place at the table about mid way through and stays through the finish. It's nicely balanced and surprisingly light for its abv.
It's remarkable how different these two bottlings are. If I had tasted them knowing only they were Four Roses, I probably would have guessed that they were from different recipes. Both are good (and indeed, I don't think I've ever had a Four Roses single barrel I would characterize as less than good), but the Shopper's Vineyard bottling wins out for me because I like the pronounced spiciness.
Even within the single recipe, there clearly can be a fair amount of variety in Four Roses which means that even once you've tried all the recipes, keep sampling.