top of page

The Battle of the Roses - All 10 Four Roses Single Barrel Recipes Reviewed & Ranked Head to Head

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

Four Roses Bourbon - Single Barrel Barrel Strength 10 Different Recipes

The Battle of the Roses is here! It’s a 10 recipe showdown in the Amongst household, but I'll be taking my time with this one. Take a look at how the bracket is set up below; I've 'seeded' based on recipe number that Four Roses lists on their website.

Four Roses 10 Recipe Bracket

Firstly, to make sure I am being fair... @amongstthefernsco will be helping me to blind each pour. Each night over the 12 (or is it 13?) days of this bracket, I’ll be diving deep on all things Four Roses barrel strength single barrel. Now I know this will inherently have some skewed results towards the stores which perhaps know how to pick a good barrel, but that’s also part of the fun. There’s a lot of great Massachusetts retailers in here, but I'm not here to promote any of them. There's also a few out of state picks and a gift shop release as well which should spice things up. I purchased each and every one of these Four Roses with my own money and did not have a hand in personally picking any of them. This is primarily for my own understanding, as I've admittedly had disproportionately low experience with Four Roses in general compared to some other distilleries.

Doing these tastings blind will remove any bias I might currently carry towards or away from any specific retailer (this is for science, damnit!); something I try to always do in my reviews anyway. In order to not unfairly eliminate a good recipe or pick in the first round due to a close matchup, there will also be a first loser recycling rule in effect so every recipe will get at least two blind head to heads.

For those newer to Four Roses, I'll describe the 10 recipes a bit more. The basic gist of it is that there are two different mash bills which get described in the 2nd letter slot of the O_S_ puzzle. There are then 5 further modifiers which correspond to the input yeast strain that the original mash was fermented with; this is the fourth letter slot of the O_S_ descriptor. When you multiply the 2 mash bill options out by the 5 yeast variations, you get 10 different possible combinations. These combinations are as follows, with general flavor profiles given by Four Roses:

  1. OBSV - Delicate fruit and rye

  2. OBSK - Rye and baking spice

  3. OBSO - Rich fruit

  4. OBSQ - Rye and light floral character

  5. OBSF - Delicate rye and mint

  6. OESV - Delicate fruit and caramel

  7. OESK - Baking spice

  8. OESO - Rich fruit and vanilla

  9. OESQ - Delicate grains and light floral character

  10. OESF - Herbs and mint

Now that the stage is set, let’s have some fun with this. If you want to see some really silly videos alongside each of these matchups, make sure to click the link in the header of each section. I will be updating this post daily with each new matchup result as well as tasting notes. Scroll on to see which one of these 10 recipes ends up being my favorite!


Company on Label: Four Roses Distillery

Whiskey Type: Bourbon

Mash Bill Percentages:

"B" mash bill: 60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

"E" mash bill: 75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

Proof: Varies by barrel, and typically by floor (also called tier) between

Age: Varies by barrel, but typically 9-11 years

Further identification: The recipe for each barrel can be found on the side label of the bottle


The Contenders:

  1. OBSV aged 10 years, 3 months in warehouse SN, barrel 87-2I; 111.2 proof & picked by: Julio's Liquors

  2. OBSK aged 9 years, 10 months in warehouse QN, barrel 10-2H; 109.8 proof & selected by: Grape & Grain Exchange

  3. OBSO aged 10 years, 5 months in warehouse PN, barrel 29-2M; 110.8 proof & selected by: One Stop Liquors

  4. OBSQ aged 10 years in warehouse RS, barrel 24-6V; 129.4 proof & selected by: Kappy's Fine Wine & Spirits

  5. OBSF aged 9 years, 5 months in warehouse UN, barrel 37-1O; 106.6 proof & selected by: Gordon's Fine Wines & Liquors

  6. OESV aged 10 years, 5 months in warehouse PN, barrel 8-6D; 124.2 proof & selected by: Gordon's Fine Wines & Liquors

  7. OESK aged 10 years, 5 months in warehouse QN, barrel 51-4A; 118.6 proof & selected by: Brett Elliott, Four Roses Master Distiller (Gift shop release)

  8. OESO aged 11 years, 5 months in warehouse MW, barrel 25-1H; 109.8 proof & selected by: Julio's Liquors

  9. OESQ aged 10 years, 9 months in warehouse TS, barrel 85-2D; 112.2 proof & selected by: Liquor Junction

  10. OESF aged 10 years, 6 months in warehouse RS, barrel 79-4K; 121.42 proof & picked by: Shores Liquors

What's your favorite recipe?

  • OBSV

  • OBSK

  • OBSO

  • OBSQ


Recipe Matchups & Tasting Notes

Round 1 - OESF vs OBSV

OESF aged 10 years, 6 months in barrel 79-4K; 121.42 proof & picked by @shoresliquor

Nose: Dusty clay, vanilla & leather up front. Subtle, old & brooding as you relax your guard. Deep inhales are impossibly soft with traces of warm waffle, brown sugar and baking bread. Confectioners sugar builds in the rested glass. Marvelously delicious in the nose.

Palate: Woah, big volume up front here with exceptionally aged oak showing the strongest. Leather, tobacco and damp earth all create a very dark and ominous sip. Black pepper isn’t quite sharp, but it creates a bitter mouthfeel I don’t quite like. Another sip layers in a really unique medley of cherry skins, honey and prevalent tree bark. Overall it is a touch unsettling.


OBSV aged 10 years, 3 months in barrel 87-2I; 111.2 proof & picked by @juliosliquors

Nose: Bright floral sun rays beam from the glass. Sawdust creeps into the glass here as darker tones build. Molasses swings in with a tinge of honey sweetness in tow. Faint marshmallow swings in before ultimately settling back into a floral bouquet.

Palate: Funky red fruit burst forth here. Cherry is dominant before fading to plum, raisin, and raspberry. Another sip is soft like a sip of tea with a touch of lemon and honey. Lovely!


Comparisons: These are quite different altogether. One is dark and brooding while the other dances lovingly in the sun. It’s an easy choice to advance OBSV here. Yum!


Round 2 - OBSK vs OESQ

OBSK aged 9 years, 10 months in barrel 10-2H; 109.8 proof & selected by @grapeandgrainexchange

Nose: Big baking spice and oily caramel jump out at me. Light, nondescript fruit lollygag in the background. This has a lovely creamy nose-feel.

Palate: Woah. Quite zesty as both orange peel and lemon peel meet in a boozy cocktail concoction on my tongue. Another sip shows off more jumbled fruit, sprawled messy across a wood floor. This glass is quite bright and lively and it leaves a tingling effervescence on the tongue for a long while. It’s not necessarily a delicious medley, but certainly quite an interesting one. A final sip shows off creamy black forest cake and raspberry jam. I can’t shake the impressive heft this one carries.


OESQ aged 10 years, 9 months in barrel 85-2D; 112.2 proof & selected by @liquorjunction

Nose: Linen & bountiful well aged oak are dominant on first inhale. Stone and earth invade the senses. Funky bunches of oats & clay comes across old. Hints of coffee bean and chocolate can be found in the depths. The glass finishes leather forward with a balanced exuberance and age.

Palate: Sherry bursts forth lightly, but is held back by delicate floral tones bordering on a sweet perfume level of intoxicating elegance. Another sip adds in plum, light bitters, stewed apricot, and dense concentrated grape. My last sip is funky with dark red fruit shimmering alongside black bread and honeysuckle.


Comparisons: This one is very close in terms of quality, but quite different in terms of flavor. One glass feels very classic & one really bucks the norm. I think I have to give a nod to the really unique profile of OBSK despite it not necessarily drilling home flavors I’m accustomed to loving. The wow factor from first sip (which was actually tasted after the other release) pointed to a level of deliciousness I can’t let slip into the losers bracket slot. OBSK MOVES ON!


Round 3 - OESO vs OBSO

OESO aged 11 years, 5 months in barrel 25-1H; 109.8 proof & selected by @juliosliquors

Nose: Classic but light bourbon tones: caramel, oak and a hint of molasses. Impossibly light in the nose... Nearly zero volume up front. After some coaxing and warming of the glass I find some hints of rye bread. Not much going on here.

Palate: Black pepper, tannic grape skins and leather jump out at me first. It’s funky and spiced like a mulled wine with little in the way of fruit. Drying oak is prevalent before a sizzling linger of blackberry sits uneasily in the stomach. At last taste I find a citrus forward start before everything crashes into cardboard and far too much oak.


OBSO aged 10 years, 5 months in barrel 29-2M; 110.8 proof & selected by @onestopliquors_

Nose: Leather, baking spice and finally a wave of soft stone fruit. Barbecue aromas swirl in the glass faintly. Hints of banana and cream can be dug up. Fairly muted overall.

Palate: Viscous caramel and butterscotch coat the mouth before a big plop of cherry bursts forth. It’s simple yet quite effective like the classic red, white & blue rocket popsicle on a hot day. The banana hints from the nose translate to the linger distinctly. A touch too much oak for my personal preference, but still enjoyable. My last sip carries a hint of menthol that doesn’t quite have a place in the rest of the profile here, but the glass finishes strong with dried apricot and crunchy walnuts.


Comparisons: Both of these had pretty lackluster noses, though flashes of fun came to both at interesting times. This yeast strain is really interesting. Given the slightly off-putting final sip of OESO, OBSO will be moving on for me!


Round 4 - OESK vs OBSQ

OESK aged 10 years, 5 months in barrel 51-4A; 118.6 proof & selected by Brett Elliott, Master Distiller of @fourrosesbourbon

Nose: Bright butterscotch in the nose up front. Rich leather stained with cherry juice. Exceptional level oak. Simple, yet potent and lovely.

Palate: Lemon zest zaps the tongue first before hard candy sweetness sinks in. Plum pie swings in with a good bit of cinnamon spice that tingles in the chest. Another sip improves on the red fruit side as raspberry bursts forth before settling into an interesting medley of elderberry and vermouth. My last sip is everything I love about bourbon. Mandarin orange is juicy and refreshing & a creamy marshmallow sits behind it, gentle & soft. Lovely.


OBSQ aged 10 years in barrel 24-6V; 129.4 proof & selected by @kappysliquors_medford

Nose: Flan & buttery pancakes jump out at me first. Deeper inhales show off light vanilla, cotton, and white lily. A prevalent barrel funk lurks in the depths.

Palate: On first sip I’m impressed by orange creamsicle, hefty boozy amaretto and a ball of baking spices you might drop into a batch of Swedish Glögg. Another sip and swish shows this to be perhaps just a touch overoaked, but it’s saved by lovely notes of maraschino cherry and Angostura bitters. The last taste here is incredible with cherry, raspberry and plum tantalizing my tongue. It’s delicious, but a touch darker than my ideal sweetness.


Comparisons: OESK clearly had the more elegant classic bourbon aroma between the two glasses. The palate was nearly impossible to decide between though & I’d expect the loser here to do well when it gets recycled into the remaining portion of the bracket. Ultimately the juicy orange flavors advance OESK!


Round 5 - OESV vs OBSF

OESV aged 10 years, 5 months in barrel 8-6D; 124.2 proof & selected by @thewhiskyguys

Nose: Dark chocolate, wheat bread and honey jump out of this glass in volumes if elegance. It’s all funkytown in here with molasses, creamy marshmallow and stewed plum. Delicious and exquisite nose-feel.

Palate: Immediately a thick mouth coating of caramel, molasses, chocolate and blackberry cobbler fill my mouth. The linger is rich, decadent and tastes expensive. Another sip and swish adds in a funky raspberry sweetness like a good red wine alongside layers of rich tobacco. At last sip I’m left satisfied as black pepper, plum and dark grapes bombard the taste buds before trailing off.


OBSF aged 9 years, 5 months in barrel 37-1O; 106.6 proof & also selected by @thewhiskyguys

Nose: Bright up front with floral-toned vanilla. Shortly after your usual barrel influence suspects set in as rich caramel and toffee make a scene. Subtle hints of cinnamon, rose petals and ciabatta bread hang in delicate balance.

Palate: Ooh soft cherry is prevalent and delicious on first sip with a linger that is long and smoldering. Another sip shows off bright bakery tones & bountiful fruit. I find a squeeze of juicy lemon juice atop a sugar cookie. My last sip is almost perfumed with lovely sweet floral tones zigging and zagging all over the mouth.


Comparisons: Woah, two bangers here. They were both delicious for very different reasons, but when I think about where my palate lands today, I have to lean on the OESV profile for the win! Complex & quite delicious - well done!


Recycle Round 6 - OESQ vs OESF

OESQ aged 10 years, 9 months in barrel 85-2D; 112.3 proof & selected by @ljwhiskeyfamily

Nose: Vanilla bean forward on the nose. Very funky and malty with black treacle. Troves of oak present well aged.

Palate: Ahhh, that’s a satisfying sensation. Cooling mint mixes with lemon zest and Earl gray tea. My last sip is vaguely fruity with an overall satisfactory shimmering linger.


OESF aged 10 years, 6 months in barrel 79-4K; 121.42 proof & selected by @shoresliquor

Nose: Bright Spring florals held down by heavy oak. Simple but effective caramel and baking bread aromas. Funky and odd.

Palate: Sharp, drying oak up front. Eugh. Too oaked for me with allspice, anise and a touch of sandalwood. My last sip solidifies my distaste for what’s in this glass.


Comparisons: This was again no competition, as was round 1 where the OESF just does not land for my palate. There’s a possibility of a TCA infection going on there and I’m glad to be done with that barrel for this bracket. OESQ moves on in a second chance for glory!


Recycle Round 7 - OESO vs OBSQ

OESO aged 11 years, 5 months in barrel 25-1H; 109.8 proof & selected by @whiskyjourneyman

Nose: Mmm. Spice, caramel and crème brûlée right away demonstrates classic, well aged bourbon. Linen blows in a warm Summer breeze across the glass. Black pepper jumps out & then suddenly it becomes quite light in the nose.

Palate: At first sip I find plenty of stone fruit sitting lazily by a bed of flowers. Another taste layers in orange peel, cherry hots and a sizzling linger of cinnamon and allspice. Mmm. Returning I find more orange creamsicle flavors that land well, but in low volume. My last sip is simple and tasty with raspberry, plum and blackberry culminating in a boozy parfait.


OBSQ aged 10 years in barrel 24-6V; 129.4 proof & selected by @kappysliquors_medford

Nose: Vanilla, tart berry and hints of metallic noted create a startling opener. Deep inhales show off leather, dark earth and deep oak. Woah, this is a funky one with plenty of barrel time.

Palate: Oh, that’s delicate and delicious up front with soft rose water up front fading into strawberry sweetness. Suddenly in the linger a boozy lemon frosting rises up in a cacophony of flavor. What a journey that sip is! Creamy tea notes dance in the long, layered linger. My last sip is sweet, balanced and delicious.


Comparisons: Both glasses definitely were solid tonight, but the OBSQ recipe really shines in complexity, depth and purely enjoyable flavors. OBSQ gets a second chance & OESO is out of here!


Quarter Finals - OBSK vs OBSV

OBSK aged 9 years, 10 months in barrel 10-2H; 109.8 proof & selected by @grapeandgrainexchange

Nose: Classic creamy crème brûlée jumps out of the glass with class. Confectioners sugar and vanilla build a strong base of aroma. Cherry skins and subtle fruit parfait round out a solid dessert nose.

Palate: On first taste I find a lot of that oily butterscotch I love to find. Caramel and all the confectioner’s delights you can imagine abound in this glass. Yum, yum, yum. Light plum, raspberry and amaretto sink in beautifully on the tongue. Elegant and lovely through and through. My last sip is the perfect balance between stone fruit and baking spice that lingers in everlasting ocean waves.


OBSV aged 10 years, 3 months in barrel 87-2I; 111.2 proof & selected by @juliosliquors

Nose: Fresh sawn oak hits first before tobacco and gunpowder swing in in interesting contrasts. Hints of dried flowers hide in the background. The nose finally settles into a nondescript funky comfort.

Palate: Light orange zest and buttercream frosting hit the palate delicately. Another sip springs forth maraschino cherry, Peychaud’s bitters and a sugary sweet linger. This drinks like a lovely old fashioned. At last taste I find leather, clay and plenty of rick house magic.


Comparisons: OBSK clearly had the better nose, appealing to all my favorite aromas to find on any bourbon. I reset and let the palate speak for itself & while OBSV tugged at the heartstrings with a wonderful cocktail profile, OBSK clearly stole my heart & will be moving on!


Quarter Finals - OESK vs OBSO

OESK aged 10 years, 5 months in barrel 51-4A; 118.6 proof & selected by Brent Elliott, @fourrosesbourbon Master Distiller

Nose: Light lemon frosting and Earl gray tea jump out at me first. Plenty of oak is backstopped by a robust floral bouquet. Hints of chocolate give this glass interesting subtleties. Brown sugar and baking spice sizzle in the background.

Palate: Punchy cherry is what first explodes onto the palate before shimmering sweet plum and baking spice take over in the simple yet enjoyable linger. Another sip amplifies the tasty fruit with dark, sticky raspberry syrup building well. My last sip is endearing with raspberry tart eliciting comfortable pie crust flavors. The proof catches up in the linger where the back of the throat begins to singe a little. Overall quite a solid sip.


OBSO aged 10 years, 5 months in barrel 29-2M; 110.8 proof & selected by @onestopliquors_

Nose: Level oak introduces vanilla, lemon zest and gorgeous pastry sweetness. I could sit and smell this glass for hours.

Palate: On first taste I’m greeted with wonderful effervescence. Lemon drop candy just sizzles and zips across the tongue with zero evidence of proof. Another sip reveals great depth as black treacle, allspice and a hint of anise culminate in a swirling elegance of age. The background note that isn’t too perceptible is a perfect marshmallow sweetness. Overall the glass is bright & lively and I can see myself sipping on this in any season of the year.


Comparisons: Both glasses are quite delicious, but the lemon beats out the raspberry for my palate today. This one was really a headscratcher on quality; both are just gorgeous. One glass seems like the bolder pour for a weathered party palate, but the elegance of OBSO means it will be advancing today! I’m a bit surprised by the result here, but blind tasting never lies!


Quarter Finals - OESQ vs OESV

OESQ aged 10 years, 9 months in barrel 85-2D; 112.2 proof & selected by @ljwhiskeyfamily

Nose: Rich vanilla, butterscotch and bready tones abound on first sniff. Confectioners sugar and bakery chocolate come across creamy and light. Bits of black bread and honey can be found amid moderate barrel funk.

Palate: Oooh punchy cherry hots leap onto the tongue. It carries a pervasive mouth coating of syrupy plum and candied cinnamon. Another sip shows off balance and depth as blood orange and fig excite the taste buds. As the glass empties I find cherry Jolly Rancher, strawberry parfait and light breakfast cereals. Yum!


OESV aged 10 years, 5 months in barrel 8-6D; 124.2 proof & selected by @thewhiskyguys

Nose: Molasses and dark earthiness greet me in this glass. It’s light with a prickly black pepper nose-feel. Longer rests produce nice marshmallow tones.

Palate: At first glance this has lovely juicy orange flavors up front. The mouth feel is light, coating and effervescent. Another sip shows off all the zippy, zesty fruit one mouth could ask for. Whew! At long last the glass finishes quite proofy with raisin, raspberry and dark oily caramel wrapping everything up.


Comparisons: The pre-sip nose was a flat-out tie between these two. Both solid & enjoyable aromas. After sipping there was finally some light between these two beauties. I loved all the candy tones of OESQ, but the crazy depth of OESV and power of the extra proof really drove that one home. OESV moves on!


Quarterfinals - OBSQ vs OBSF

OBSQ aged 10 years in barrel 24-6V; 129.4 proof & selected by @kappysliquors_medford

Nose: Caramel dominates the first inhale. It’s creamy and warm throughout as lovely notes of crème brûlée, graham cracker and crunchy dinner rolls lift off the surface of the glass. Classic bourbon.

Palate: Woah, stewed apricot, plum and a magnificent cinnamon spice sizzle dazzles the tongue. A big chest hug linger carries leather, raisin, and extra spiced cherry hots. Oh wow, chips ahoy chocolate chip cookies just clearly jumped out at me. The final taste says “boozy and delicious!”


OBSF aged 9 years, 5 months in barrel 37-1O; 106.6 proof & selected by @thewhiskyguys

Nose: Light linen and synthetic sleeping bags jump out at me. I feel like I’m off camping in a tent with this glass for whatever reason. Deep inhales reveal hints of cherry skins and subtle grape.

Palate: At first sip I’m quite impressed with the volume level despite the rather muted nose. It’s beautiful with bold maraschino cherry up front before the linger of honey and pressed flower petals sinks in. Another sip is again punchy but with prevalent sweetness. Glazed cinnamon buns hang out softly in the background. My last sip is subtle with honeysuckle, raspberry iced tea and a hint of expressed lemon peel.


Comparisons: Well, that was a pretty lackluster start on the nose, but everything ramped up quickly once the sips began. I was bordering on thinking OBSQ was too hot, but ultimately it was right in range for a big, flavorful experience I’m always looking for out of Four Roses. OBSQ squeaks into the final 4!


Semifinals - OBSK vs OBSO

OBSK aged 9 years, 10 months in barrel 10-2H; 109.8 proof & selected by @grapeandgrainexchange

Nose: Caramel, banana custard with lovely brûlée, and graham cracker jump out at me. Overall creamy & oily in the nose. Simple woodshop aromas build well alongside vanilla, black pepper and dried plum.

Palate: Wow. That has amazing softness & approachability while still delivering full volume notes like maraschino cherry, raspberry parfait and boozy custard. The proof swings back in strong on the 2nd sip as cherry hots sizzle and pop on the way down to my stomach. It’s just gorgeous to sip on; my ideal level of sweetness for a barrel proof bourbon right here. Last sip says, “I’m here for dessert”. Take a bow.


OBSO aged 10 years, 5 months in barrel 29-2M; 110.8 proof & selected by @onestopliquors_

Nose: Effervescent strawberries and cream aromas dance in the nose. I love it already. Lemon frosting, vanilla angel food cake and a hint of sweet, warm bread build well in elegant complexity. Subtle campfire smoke sits in the glass late.

Palate: Zesty lemon zips across the tongue on first sip. A big wave of cinnamon and nutmeg roll down into the chest with manageable heft. Another sip shows off dark yet still sweet raspberry and plum. It’s a bit moody and the proof is landing in fiery bursts, but overall a great sip. My last taste confirms this is quite delicious with rose petal, hibiscus and subtle stone fruit notes proliferating in the glass.


Comparisons: The nose on OBSO was really my jam from the getgo. But wow.. did OBSK come out swinging on the sips. Overall OBSO was made to feel a little bland in this comparison somehow. Both are gorgeous examples of Four Roses, but I prefer that liquid dessert profile, so OBSK moves on!


Semifinals - OBSQ vs OESV

OBSQ aged 10 years in barrel 24-6V; 129.4 proof & selected by @kappysliquors_medford

Nose: Bright linen bursts forth first before dry vanilla bean and copious oak swings through the glass. Barrel funk for days. Later in the glass flashes of molasses, caramel and butterscotch adorn an earthy base.

Palate: Punchy and powerful up front this lets cherry hots just proliferate and multiply. The mouth feel is syrupy and thick with stewed plum, raspberry and fig. It’s almost like a more decadent & creamy Fig Newton bar, yum. The linger carries a long undulation between lemon peel heft and stone fruit sweetness. Lovely complexity. At last sip I find an approachable (read: smooth) old fashioned cocktail. The chest hug is infinite here; I’m in love.


OESV aged 10 years, 5 months in barrel 8-6D; 124.2 proof & selected by @thewhiskyguys

Nose: Hints of fruit alongside waffle cone & pecan-rich praline ice cream. Decadent elegance and depth on the nose-feel.

Palate: Wow, that candied fruit is just everywhere in my mouth. Rich, robust caramel layers in against leather which slides over the top of a sweet tobacco medley. A box of nerdz meets a handful of skittles. Yowzah! That’s unique & very sexy to sip on. My last sip is a powerhouse of flavor as a darker fruit salad medley tumultuously tumbles over my taste buds. Hot damn.


Comparisons: OESV absolutely crushes the nosing at the start of the matchup. If I was picking based on first whiff, I’d go OESV all day - but whiskey is meant to be drank so... All hell breaks loose once the sipping begins and both of these pours end up being DIVINE! This took a lot of mental back and forth, but OBSQ takes the cake today for me because of the syrupy sweetness, long linger, and infinite complexity. See you in the final matchup; stay tuned!


Final Matchup - OBSQ vs OBSK

OBSQ aged 10 years in barrel 24-6V; 129.4 proof & selected by @kappysliquors_medford

Nose: Rich pecan, leather, molasses, and deep funk are all over this glass. Linen, oak, and black pepper are savory & potent. Brown sugar, butter and candied walnuts boast exceptional complexity. This glass is rich, deep, dark, and decadent. Stone fruit are prevalent behind bright, dusty warehouse wood aromas. The nose is a touch too hot to be enjoyed fully tonight, but it's still a perfect example of how I would describe my ideal bourbon.

Palate: From the get-go this glass embodies classic, delicious bourbon with caramel and cherry garcia just dancing on my tongue. Wonderful effervescence carries forth plum, fig and blackberry in an infinite smoldering linger. Punchy cherry returns hotter than before with cinnamon, allspice and a hint of clove. Before anything else can occur, an explosion of jammy fruit swings in a boatload of baking spices. That is just a marvelous bourbon. Yum. This drinks like a warm Summer night with a grand view. Just a hint of salinity creeps kisses the caramel and butterscotch loaded vanilla ice cream in my hand. I'm sitting looking at a gorgeous Boston city skyline without a care in the world. Dark, savory, comfortable, and forlorn; this glass embodies the fickle & fragile existence we live. It's the ephemeral perfection captured once in a memory, never to be repeated in exactly the same way. I love this pour, and I'm nearly moved to tears knowing it is as finite as I am, carrying with it a natural beginning & end. I'll certainly be savoring this one amongst close friends and family for as long as possible!


OBSK aged 9 years, 10 months in barrel 10-2H; 109.8 proof & selected by @grapeandgrainexchange

Nose: Light butterscotch, breadcrumbs and bright vanilla jump out early here. Crème brûlée, biscoff cookie, and confectioners sugar pave the way for lemon buttercream frosting, tart raspberry and dark grape notes. What a fun evolution. Deep inhales are light and lovely in the nose. Peaches and praline sit lovingly in the glass. Lemon hard candy captures my heart.

Palate: At first sip I find strawberry pie, cinnamon bun and confectioners sugar all globbed together in a heap of dessert goodness. Hints of lemon undulate under a soft blanket of cotton and tea leaves. The linger is hefty with zest. Wow, on returning to this glass more of that lemon sweetness has come to stay. This is like a comfortable visit from some close family: easy, inviting and good for the soul. At last sip I'm possibly heaven-bound as this delicious marshmallow & honey ladened nectar slips on to nothingness. Just incredible. Truly a divine sip, and perhaps one of my favorite whiskeys of all time.


Comparisons: If I didn't have to (if this weren't a bracket), I'd just call this one even. I'm not a big fractional scorer, as I don't think really subtle nuances can be accurately rated with a score without the use of blind head to heads. As this is in fact a blind head to head, I do have a winner, though 'eliminating' one of these legitimately hurts my soul. Both are actually quite different, which is surprising, so I could easily see myself favoring a different recipe on a different night. Ultimately the classic bourbon profile, exceptional quality, crazy nostalgia and gorgeous finish puts me in the OBSQ camp for my favorite recipe of the 2023 Battle of the Roses blind bracket. Let me know down in the comments if you'd like to see me revisit this in the future with new contenders. I plan to see if I can try all 10 recipes at once to emulate a proper Four Roses barrel picking experience and see if I still pick the same recipe or not sometime soon. Make sure to subscribe to see when that update comes about!


Bracket Results:

The Four Roses Recipes Ranked
The recycle symbol signifies that recipe lost its first round matchup, but it was re-entered into the bracket in a different head to head.

OBSQ is the favorite recipe!

Talk about an underdog story for OBSQ... OESK clearly deserves an honorary mention and is worthy of at least one follow-up post because OBSQ was actually a first round elimination that ended up winning it all. Either I wasn't in a high proof mood that night, or OESK is just that close that I had to flip a coin, because one does not simply go from zero to hero for no reason! This is so much fun. Thank you for following along!



Max Payne
Max Payne
Nov 05, 2023

great review, I did a comparison with the 10 and honestly not a fan of the E mash bill. Among the B mash bills, OBSK and OBSQ did indeed stand out as strong contenders but to me OBSK was the favorite, though OBSQ due to its high heat felt a little too much IMHO, but it was great to see how close I got to align with this review :) cheers

Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson
Dec 01, 2023
Replying to

That's awesome! How fun that you got to taste along with me! I am quickly discovering that I am a huge fan of OBSK, as that has been what I have selected for a single barrel selection (completely blind out of all 10 recipes) twice in a row now. Did you use the blank bracket template and/or one of the 10 recipe kits from Four Roses for your tasting? Cheers, Nick Anderson


I kept seeing all of the different batches popping up on bourbon groups. Since Ive never had one, I had to start decoding the foreign acronyms. this was a perfect way to learn. You’re a very entertaining writer with an incredibly tuned pallet. I look forward to trying some of these and seeing how my notes compare. Cheers!

Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson
May 07, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for your kind words! It joys me to hear this write up helped you make some sense of the 10 recipes. Cheers

bottom of page