Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; Four Roses Distillery; Lawrenceburg, Kentucky; $45/btl
Did you ever buy a bottle of whiskey, or beer, or wine for that matter, based solely on the label? Seriously, have you ever walked into a liquor store and scoured the shelf wondering which bottle to dump $50 on? Well, I have. In fact, that is precisely how I discovered this gem. There I was, looking like a lost goat, trying to decide which graphic designer had the most talent, whiskey the last thing on my mind. I wasn't there for the golden nectar, baby. No, I was there to see which artist could draw the best circle.
Sound like a convenient excuse from a guy who doesn't really know that much about whiskey? Well, if you answered, "Yes!" to that question, then you're smarter than I am.
Thing is, most of the great whiskey artists also hire great label artists, because most of the great whiskey artists want you to try their stuff — and fall madly in love with it. So, with that in mind, here's the Four Roses story straight from their website:
"It began when Paul Jones, Jr., the founder of Four Roses Bourbon, became smitten by the beauty of a Southern belle. It is said that he sent a proposal to her, and she replied that if her answer were “Yes,” she would wear a corsage of roses on her gown to the upcoming grand ball. Paul Jones waited for her answer excitedly on that night of the grand ball…when she arrived in her beautiful gown, she wore a corsage of four red roses. He later named his Bourbon “Four Roses” as a symbol of his devout passion for the lovely belle, a passion he thereafter transferred to making his beloved Four Roses Bourbon."
How romantic is that? I mean, can you really resist a whiskey whose label has that heritage? I sure couldn't. So, I plopped down my $44.95 (plus 6 percent Idaho sales tax) and absconded with a beautifully — and tastefully — designed bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel (mine is from Warehouse SN, barrel 28-4T), and I'm having a sip as I type this. So don't go thinking I'm writing this from memory like I did with that Rip Van Winkle stuff.
In my opinion Four Roses Single Barrel is one of the finest values in all of the whiskey world. In terms of overall value, only Jim Beam Black Label is better. This is a rich, beautifully designed whiskey with deep amber color and a clean finish that makes me want to lean back and drift away into la-la land! The master distiller, Brent Elliot, talks about fruit and apricots and pears, but when I drink this stuff I think of no such thing. I think of a calm, artful sunset on the Oregon Coast, wife by my side, holding hands and waiting for the "Master Distiller" to work His wonders in a splendid display of smokey reds and burnt orange, and that amazing deep purple that precedes the last light of the setting orb we call the Sun. It's genuinely pleasing to swirl the smallest sip around in your mouth and beam with pride, knowing the way you pick a bottle of whiskey is second to none. It's in the label, baby!
Four Roses Single Barrel was my absolute, second to no one nothing no how, for the longest time. For five long years it sat alone in the place of honor, only to be knocked down a few months ago by the new king of this average, ordinary, everyday Ken's top spot, Westward American Single Malt Stout Cask. And here's the thing: It's not that Four Roses Single Barrel suddenly went bad or anything like that. It hasn't. As I sit here sipping away, I am pleasantly reminded why I love it so much. Even the annoying little hangy-tag on the bottle is precious in this Ken's eyes. It's just so good! Smooth and creamy, delightfully dreamy. See what I did there? It's a Dr. Seuss whiskey rhyme! Few whiskies will drive my creative writing skills to such levels. If this stuff were a woman I'd be getting divorced, because I've got my tongue so far down the bottle's throat It'll take a visit from the fire department to recover it.
The thing about labels is that they can tell a wonderful, magical story. Far Niente does that with their masterful wine labels — they just make you want to buy a bottle. That day some 5 years ago when I was scoping for a flavorful bottle of daddy-juice, something jumped out at me and I knew there had to be a story behind those roses on the bottle. I knew that, somewhere in the past, something struck some distiller and made him say, "Oh, I know what I'll do …" After reading the Four Roses story, I knew why I had selected that particular bottle amongst all the others competing for my eye. I knew there was something special in there. Because there is!
Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; SN-28-4T
Who is this guy?
I'm just an average, ordinary, everyday Ken, and nothing more. I like wine, whiskey, and beer. I write when I'm bored (and to prove it I've published three books). I like to garden, work with wood, and laugh with family and friends. Ken's Bar is an expression of my enjoyment of adult beverages of all shapes and sizes, but especially whiskey. My tasting notes are as much about stories and connections with people as they are about fluffy, snobbish adjectives. I've tasted a lot of whiskey (including the costs-way-too-much Rip Van Winkle stuff) and decided to start writing about it. Or something. So, sit back and read. If you can.
How do I rank?
Cost per Bottle:
$ - $0-$25
$$ - $26-$50
$$$ - $51-$75
$$$$ - $76-$100
$$$$$ - Over $100
* - Swill. Dump it out.
** - Mix it with coke
*** - A good sipper
**** - Straight from Heaven.
***** - Heaven called and wants its whiskey back!
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