Tag Archives: blend

Creating a Barrel Proof Four Roses Small Batch Blend – Review #54

Four Roses Small Batch Blend Background

Note: Looks like i got the formula mixed up below. I haven’t retried the blend, but if you’re interested in experimenting, the correct formula should have been:

OBSK = 70g
OESO = 30g
OESK = 70g
OBSO = 30g

Four Roses Small Batch BlendSo, I’m a big fan of Four Roses. I can go back and forth on whether I like the Single Barrel better than the Small Batch. More times than not I’ll probably grab the Small Batch. I also really like their private barrel program. Stores can choose a barrel of one of Four Roses’ ten recipes and have them bottled up at full barrel strength for their customers. I’d argue these private barrels are one of the best thing going in Bourbon right now. At least for bottles that you actually find on the shelves.

The idea of a Four Roses Small Batch Blend came when I reviewed the Small Batch I was left wondering how it would be at a higher proof. The Small Batch is bottled at 90-proof, while the Single Barrel is 100-proof. In that Small Batch review I linked to an interview of Jim Rutledge by Jason Pyle on YouTube. In there Jim basically told us the recipe for Small Batch. With this info, I pulled four private bottles of the shelf and got to work.

Process

Four Roses Small Batch uses four of the ten Four Roses recipes. Two are the higher rye mash recipe and two of the lower split between two yeasts. The recipes are OBSO, OESO, OBSK, and OESK. In the interview Jim states the recipe is 50% of each grain recipe and then a 70/30 split between the yeasts. From his description of the yeasts I would call it 70% of the O and 30% of the K.  So, my trial Four Roses Small Batch blend looked like this:

OBSO (Tippin’s Market, Ann Arbor) = 70g
OESK (Four Roses Gift Shop) = 30g
OESO (Tippin’s Market, Ann Arbor) = 70g
OBSK (Tippin’s Market, Ann Arbor)= 30g

Results

First some caveats here. We’re using private barrels, which means bottles likely won’t have a benchmark taste profile that you might get from a commercial release. Then these are single barrels so each will be a little different. And we have barrels ranging from 9 years, 8 months to 11 years 6 months, plus alcohol ranging from 56.7% to 63.6%. What I do here will likely be hard to replicate, so this is just for fun and not science.

To break things down, I felt the Small Batch was more fruity with strawberries and bananas. Also crisper. The Four Roses Small Batch blend was more oak, char, and roasted notes. Lots of fruit still, but seemed to take a back seat to the alcohol and barrel. Also not as bright. The Four Roses Small Batch blend also had a little perfume. I thought the Four Roses Small Batch blend had really nice oakyness and tannic mouthfeel and overall was very nice. The Small Batch though I felt was more nuanced allowing the more subtle flavors to bloom and was generally well put together.

I then tried adding some water to the Four Roses Small Batch blend and that brought out more of the subtle stuff I’m digging in the Small Batch. Overall I think a little water improves this glass. I’m not sure on the proof. I’d guess somewhere around 100-110-proof.

Closing

Blending whiskey is an interesting process. Sometimes the blend transcends the parts like with the Weller 12-Old Weller Antique/Pappy blend. Other times it subtracts like with the Elijah Craig 12/Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof blend.

So how did the Four Roses Small Batch Blend do? I’m coming away from this blend appreciating Four Roses Small Batch even more. The lower proof really seems to showcase these four recipes. I think there is something there with a little water, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble. I’d say just go for the readily available bottle at a good price. And if you do gather these recipes in a private bottling, which you should, I would just enjoy them individually.

Now what if I had a different selection of bottles in these recipes? How would that work? That’s a good question for another time!

Does it Blend?

Don’t mess with a good thing

Weller Blend (AKA Poor man’s Pappy) – Review

Weller Blend Background

Weller Blend BottleI’ve reviewed three different Weller products in Weller Special Reserve, Old Weller Antique, and W.L. Weller 12 Year Old. This time I’m going to look at a blend of Old Weller Antique and Weller 12. This blend originated at the Straight Bourbon forums and is known there simply as the Weller SB Blend. The goal here is to get close to the Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year, and perhaps something that resembles the other bottles of Pappy Van Winkle, with a couple $25 or so bottles of Bourbon. This blend has even been promoted around the web as a “poor man’s Pappy,” so does this get close? Not in my opinion, but the blend is a real nice pour and is better than the individual Weller Bourbons.

The thinking here is that all these mentioned Bourbons are made with the same/similar recipe at Buffalo Trace. They may or may not be aged similarly and likely go through a different barrel selection process. Old Rip Van Winkle is aged 10 years, Pappy 15 is aged 15 years, and both are bottled at 107-proof. Old Weller Antique is aged about 6-7 years and also bottled at 107-proof. Weller 12 is aged 12 years and bottled at 90-proof. So Old Weller Antique has the power of Pappy, but lacks the age. Weller 12 is closer in age, but lacks some oomph. In my review I enjoyed the aged complexity of Weller 12 and the potency of Old Well Antique. So the blend here tries to pump up the volume while keeping some age characteristics.

Process

I tried two different blends. One at 50/50 and the other 60/40 Old Weller Antique to Weller 12. 50/50 blend should make a Bourbon that’s about 98.5-proof and 60/40 is about 100.5-proof. I vatted these into 100 ml glass jars for three weeks. Conventional wisdom is the whiskeys need time to “mingle,” but I have no opinions or guidance as to how long. I’d guess at least 2-3 days to be safe.

I did side by side comparisons of the 50/50 blend and 60/40 blend. I also brought in samples of both Old Weller Antique and Weller 12. I’m going to break convention here by rather than reviewing the blends individually I’ll just compare and contrast in a narrative.

Results

These both are pretty close. As expected each blend seems to lean closer to either Weller 12 or Old Weller Antique depending on proportions. 50/50 is a little woodier, smoother and sweeter and 60/40 has some more acetone and is more fruity and lively. I like both blends, but I’m leaning towards 60/40.

Once I narrowed down what I thought was my preferred blend, I compared the blend against Weller 12 and Old Weller Antique. The blend I thought tamed down Old Weller Antique and added some nice age character. Interestingly, I was surprised how much better I preferred the blend over Weller 12. Compared to the blend, Weller 12 seems noticeably flatter. The differences actually kind of altered my original opinions of Weller 12 a bit. Weller 12 also has more oak, which isn’t a bad thing, but also some more astringency which may or may not be desirable.

Closing

With these results I made up a larger batch of 60/40 blend. I’ll enjoy that and then maybe revisit the 50/50 to see if I’ve changed my mind. Perhaps my second batch will be 50/50 and just drink that over a period of time. Either way, I do seem to enjoy both blends more than the individual Bourbons. Interesting! I could see this being my go-to wheater Bourbon and simply keep Weller 12 and Old Weller Antique on hand just for blending.

Does it Blend?

Yes!

Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof Blend – Review

Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof Blend Background

Elijah Craig 12 Blend BottleI’m a fan of both Elijah Craig 12 Year and Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof. The Barrel Proof is pretty nice stuff at high-proof and unfiltered, but it’s too hot for me. Drinking barrel proof booze is kind of nutty to begin with, but some whiskey for some reason is more enjoyable than others. Age I assume is one reason, but barreling selection and storage are others. Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof for me is close, but I prefer to cut it with some water.

When reviewing the Barrel Proof bottle I did some experimentation and decided I like it somewhere around 105-110-proof. In my review I noted some mixology with water to hit the mark. I was thinking of bottling up some so I could just pour and enjoy and then I heard about the idea of blending the regular Elijah Craig 12 with the Barrel Proof. So, that brings us to the Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof Blend.

Process

For this experiment I made up two blended samples at 50/50 and 60/40 of Elijah Craig 12 and Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof. I also mixed up a sample of Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof and water. Alcohol on these are about 113.6-proof, 109.7-proof, and about 110-proof for the water.

I let these sit for about two weeks and then sampled them side by side over two days. I also prepared a fourth sample with water on the spot without any befit of “mingling.”

Results

Right off the bat, 50/50 was still too hot for me to enjoy. I prefer lower alcohol on this Bourbon and I picked both the 60/40 and water samples over the 50/50. The 60/40 and water samples were similar, although I preferred the sample cut with water. I felt it had more depth and added complexity. I’m not sure I would notice if the glasses were standing on their own, but side by side to me the difference was clear. It had more of the dark and roasted characteristics and to me was overall more enjoyable.

Lastly I compared the two water samples and I couldn’t discern much difference. It didn’t matter whether the Barrel Proof was cut in the glass or bottled and allowed to mingle.

Closing

I was surprised by this, although I guess I shouldn’t have been. I was expecting blending two versions of Elijah Craig 12 would give me something interesting, but really it seems to just dilute the best parts of the Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof. While still at the same proof, adding some water I found retains more of that great uncut and robust flavors than mixing in a large percentage of the cheaper Elijah Craig 12.

Also, I couldn’t tell any difference in how the Barrel Proof was cut with water. In the glass seems just as good as bottling it up. So, while bottling up a batch might be convenient, there was no flavor difference.

Does it Blend?

Nope. Just cut Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof with water in the glass and enjoy.