Four Roses, four years on
Four Roses Bourbon’s only been in Kansas City for about four years, but it’s already a favorite among bartenders. That much was obvious during a recent tasting session at The Regier Hotel Grill & Exchange, courtesy the Kansas City Bartenders’ Alliance and Lohr Distributing.
Al Young, the brand’s ambassador, was already introducing the Four Roses Yellow Label when I slipped into my seat, calling it the line’s all-purpose cocktail bourbon. Certainly it worked well in the Ward 8 that came my way as Young spoke.
Four Roses uses two different mash bills (each with differing quantities of corn, rye and malted barley) and five proprietary yeast strains. It adds up to 10 different bourbon recipes, all distilled and aged separately. The Yellow Label combines all 10 into a solid, 80-proof bourbon that carries the sweetness, spice and wood I always hope for in a good bottle.
The Small Batch was even better. It blends bourbons from four of the recipe, and each batch varies some from the next. At 90-proof, it’s stout enough to make an excellent Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
Jenn Tosatto, a bartender at The Rieger and Manifesto, says she likes it in Mint Juleps, but she also sweetly crooned “caramel, caramel, caramel…” while sipping a straight sample. So, clearly neat’s not a bad option, either.
Next, Young poured the Single Barrel. It’s made with a high rye mash bill and tastes of spice, vanilla, coffee, cocoa and hints of maple syrup. Delicious stuff, and intriguing to compare against the 2011 Limited Edition Single Barrel Young finished with.
Made with Four Roses’ more floral Q yeast, it was vibrant, dry and spicy. It was also 114 proof—maybe I’m a lightweight, but I much preferred it with a splash of water. Just a splash, mind you, enough to round things out, opening both the aroma and flavor and revealing fig and brown sugar notes.
Complementing the bourbons was a menu from The Rieger’s chef, Howard Hanna. A salumi plate with local peach mostarda; maple syrup and bourbon glazed pork with polenta and braised Tuscan kale; and ice cream with a bourbon and bacon brownie. An tasty array of bourbon creativity for which I was extremely grateful.
And then there was that Ward 8. The Rieger makes a good one. Here’s how they do it: 1/2 ounce grenadine, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, 1/2 ounce orange juice and 2 ounces Four Roses Yellow Label, bitters (Angostura?). Shaken. On ice. Lemon peel. Mmm.