Whiskey (or whisky) drinkers tend to fall into one of two camps – single malt Scotch fans and those who favor Bourbon. Devotees of each tend to be fiercely loyal and passionate about their distilled grains. But there’s no reason why any man should limit his imbibing to the Old World or the New. After all, Scotch and Bourbon are just brothers from a different mother. When Scottish immigrants came to America, many settled in the rural south and sought to recreate the drink of their homeland. The result was a whiskey made from predominantly corn and named for Bourbon County, Kentucky.
If your impression of Bourbon has been merely as a good mixer for Coke, you might be pleasantly surprised to try one of the finer sipping Bourbons. A good place to start is with Four Roses Bourbon. Up until about a decade ago, Four Roses was known for its cheaper, blended whiskies. When new owners took over in 2002, they made the decision to focus strictly on 100% Straight Kentucky Bourbon. After sampling a trio of Four Roses offerings, we wholeheartedly agree with their decision.
Compared to the deeper, smoky, slow burn of Scotch, Bourbon has a lighter, almost refreshing mouth feel and a sweeter finish. This was definitely evident in the Four Roses Yellow, an 80 proof (40% alcohol) Bourbon that can easily stand on its own or be mixed to make a fine Rob Roy or Manhattan. The 90 proof Small Batch steps it up a bit with a more spicy nose and flavor that is fine with a couple of ice cubes. The top shelf Single Barrel introduces fruitiness and caramel-y depth and a more pronounced alcohol finish that comes with its 100 proof kick. The Single Barrel is a fine alternative to a single malt Scotch when you want something a little sweeter to warm your soul on a crisp fall evening.
Whether you’re a longtime Bourbon drinker looking for something different, or a Scotch drinker ready to cross the pond and try a New World whiskey, put Four Roses on your list. Because while we may not all agree on everything, everything seems more agreeable over a good dram of whiskey.
Buy Now: $20-$50
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