Four Roses (40%, OB, 2011)

After the highly specialized Octomore, let’s get back to basics with this Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey aka Four Roses Yellow, since it has, and you’ve guessed it, a yellow label, although with every revamp of the look, the yellow label gets less yellow. The one I’m about to review, is one that was released a few years ago, but since this is the entry-level best known product of the distillery, I expect a lot of consistency exists between different batches. Four Roses is a bit of a tricky Bourbon for me. Four Roses have their ten recipes and it depends of the usage of these recipes in blending the Bourbons if I like them or not. For instance, if you have read my review of the Single Barrel expression, you know I found the new 50% ABV version quite good, whereas I didn’t like the older 43% ABV version as much. For me it was too floral. Don’t get me wrong. It’s about the taste, not the amount of alcohol in the finished product. I understand that this yellow labelled Bourbon I’m about to review is around 6 years old and can contain any of the ten recipes Four Roses makes, although most of it is OBSK and OESK. If this means nothing to you, please have a look at my other Single Barrel review.

Four Roses YellowColor: Orange gold.

Nose: Smells young, and slightly alcoholic. Light and creamy. Even some yeast and quite some honey. Dusty, with charred oak and whiffs of the new oak underneath. It has more to do with oak than the florality of the old single barrel expression. It seems a bit closed to me, since it is a bit hard to get all of the aroma’s out of my glass from the start. Maybe it’s reduced a bit too much. Another layer shows us some cardboard and a leafy, grassy note. Dry grass mixed with the slightly spicy note that has to do with the toasted oak. The honey note quickly disappears, making it less sweet and somewhat more spicy. Otherwise quite light and yes, simple. Bourbon tea.

Taste: Cardboard, wood and sugary sweet. Waxy paper. Sugar water sweetness and a very nice oaky note. New oak, with again a grassy, spicy and soapy note. There are some good flavours in this and even has enough character for an entry-level Bourbon. The wood and cream give it its initial likeability and backbone. It maybe a bit simple, but it’s very nice as an unoffensive entry-level bourbon should be. Nice body, medium finish.

Start with something like this, share a bottle with mates, get to know it. Compare it to several other entry-level Bourbons, like Jim Beam (white), Evan Williams (black), Buffalo trace and others. Quickly move on from there, if you’re an adventurous person. My review may seem a bit harsh, but it’s actually not that bad at all. This Bourbon is pretty decent, has some nice aroma’s and is very drinkable and buying this, won’t scare your wallet at all. With the age comes also a rather simple body with a not too long finish. I hope it’s strong enough for mixing, but I couldn’t say. I’m no mixologist.

Compared to the aforementioned single barrel expression, the single barrel has more depth to it, seems better balanced and benefits greatly of its higher strength (50% ABV), although it has a tad more of the feared florality. Luckily it’s not enough to spoil it for me.

Points: 78

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