Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Summer Bliss: Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

Despite the weather outside our windows at the moment, it is currently the height of the British summer.

As such we are bravely, (and with refusal to accept reality) faithfully traipsing to our local supermarket or butcher to pick up pound upon pound of meat for the barbecue... only to finally cook it indoors once the sodden coals refuse to ignite under the constant onslaught of drizzle.

For me, a perfect drink to match with a barbecue (especially one that has experienced rain delay) is a good quality bourbon.

The richer, slightly sweeter and often woodier nature of this whiskey makes it better for matching with smoked and heavily sauced meats. This was proven a month or so ago when some friends and I got together to polish off 15 racks of ribs at our imaginatively dubbed "Ribs 'n' Whiskey Day".

The whiskey I took along was Four Roses Single Barrel (£39.75, The Whisky Exchange). This Kentuckian distillery uses 10 different recipes for their whiskey - evidently, however, the single barrel is always only a single variety.

These are then hand-labelled with the warehouse they were aged in along with the barrel number. Funnily enough, although Four Roses has been one of the largest bourbon brands for the last 60 years, it was only relatively recently that it became generally available on the American market - before that it could only be bought at the distillery.

On the nose there is a whole lot jumping out at you: vanilla, spiced fruit, oak, smoke, toffee, a slight orange note, a touch of chocolate and nutmeg.
Photo by Ernesto Andrande

This has been aged in first-fill, charred, white oak barrels and as such the wood has imparted a lot of character into the spirit. This is a brash and warming nose, that has wonderful fruit and no small amount of depth to it, but will be more than capable than standing up to the smells of a barbecue in full swing.

On the palate this is soft and round, very rich and sweet, but with the slightest tartness about it. There are tropical fruits, raisins, milk chocolate, cocoa powder, orange, vanilla a lemon peel.

At 50% I would generally recommend diluting it with a little water, but when I am drinking this at parties I dispense with this (carefully doctoring whiskey in this way will generally be condemned as snobbery, and you will be relegated to the corner of the garden with the kids and that weird guy that no-one really invited.)

I think this is a great choice for summer, but can also be wonderful in winter. Thanks to the magnitude of the flavour and the wonderfully warming alcohol this can cope with meaty feasts, but it also does well by the fire on a rainy night, and should be enjoyable to both seasoned whisky drinkers and the newly introduced.

As mentioned above, Four Roses Single Barrel is available from The Whisky Exchange for £39.75.

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