Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Four Roses Blind Tasting: Committee Report

A couple weeks ago the Capitol Bourbon Committee met to blind taste the three standard Four Roses offerings: Yellow Label, Small Batch and Single Barrel.  The Yellow Label offering is a blend of all ten Four Roses Recipes and clocks in at 80 proof.  Small Batch contains four recipes at 90 proof.  The Single Barrel was the standard single barrel recipe, OBSV, and was 100 proof.

The tasting spread.
Four Roses is my favorite bourbon, so I was excited to see how our panel of seven tasters (six members and one special guest) rated each selection.

In a general sense, all seven tasters tasted definite differences between what turned out to be the Yellow Label and the Small Batch and Single Barrel.   And by that I mean that the Small Batch and Single Barrel stood out above the Yellow label in nose, taste, and finish.

The Single Barrel was the coverall winner with an average score of 90.25.  Small Batch came in a close second at 89.8, while Yellow Label lagged behind at 87.  Even at 87, Yellow Label received an excellent score. (In fact, I took a bunch of it home and drank almost all of it during Hurricane Sandy!)

The tasting notes are summarized below:

Yellow Label (Sample A)

Nose:  caramel, light, maple, hot, flat, some sweetness and chocolate, sweet fruits, corn, grass, floral, mild

Taste:  Rye, light and smooth, more misty pepper than sweetness, up-front fruit, velvet-y mouth feel, slight honey, corn and charcoal, floral and mellow, some vanilla, an easy drinker.

Finish: short with some pleasant spiciness, smooth with a nice linger, wheat-y and a slight burn, corn and sugar

Small Batch (Sample B)

The Four Roses Collection
Nose: Vanilla, orange zest, sweeter than A, bold with a slight burn, cotton candy, leather, oak, bold spiciness, some vanilla, and floral notes

Taste:  smooth, berry flavors, sweet start with spice in the middle, strong and creamy, mild alcohol, delicate, vanilla, rich, deep leather, some corn and floral, tannins, low heat, pleasing spice, vanilla and caramel

Finish: Vanilla, oak, balanced with trailing sweet finish, very smooth, leather and tannins, sweet and spicy finish, I love this finish!

Single Barrel OBSV (Sample C)

Nose: butterscotch, thick, raisin, soft leather, hot, floral, molasses, spicy caramel

Taste: Earthy, charcoal, spices, pepper, hot on front of tongue, vanilla custard, spiciness, floral flavors, vanilla, cinnamon and nice heat.

Finish: Smooth spice, rounded and hints of leather and vanilla, great finish, creamy on the tongue, a slow burn, spicy and vanilla.

Last words:  I can tell by the handwriting that as we progressed we got a little tipsy.  We also got to bullshitting and maybe weren't as diligent with the notes as we could of been.  It scarcely matters.  The Capitol Bourbon Committee isn't about formally scoring bourbons; it's about getting together with a few friends and sharing the bourbon experience.   A great time was had by all, and we are already planning our future events.


  1. Four Roses happens to be my favorite distiller, as well. My wife loves the Yellow Label, but she's open to single barrel offerings. I love them all, but go for the barrel proof OBSKs and standard Single Barrel more than the others.

    I'm also in DC and have a few bourbons open, some new and some dusties - if you have an empty seat at a gathering, I'm happy to fill it!

  2. If you'll email me at keith(dot)boyea(at)Gmail.com, I'll let you know about upcoming tastings! We are always open to having fellow bourbon enthusiasts join the committee! (Especially Four Roses fans.) I had an OESK that blew my mind and next year's Limited Edition Single Barrel is OBSK (https://www.ttbonline.gov/colasonline/viewColaDetails.do?action=publicFormDisplay&ttbid=12298001000451) You'll want to make sure and pick that one up!