Decode the Four Roses Recipes

Helping you decode The 10 Four Roses recipes system

As a whiskey enthusiast, you’ve likely come across the Four Roses bourbon name before. If so, you may have noticed their labels can be a little bit confusing. That’s because Four Roses doesn’t just use one type of bourbon recipe, they actually use ten!

In this helpful guide, you can quickly decode how the Four Roses recipes system works. In this blog post, we’ll go over each of the four letters in detail and show you how to decipher any Four Roses label.

Quick bourbon basics

Bourbon must contain at least 51% corn in the grain recipe, however other types of grain may added. Four Roses use three grains including corn, rye and malted barely. Together, they’re mixed to make the ‘mash bill’ which is one of the three key ingredients to make bourbon.

  • Grain/s (Mash bill)
  • Yeast
  • Water

Four Roses recipes system

Four Roses have 10 bourbon recipes, each with their own unique four letter code. The only two variables are the second and fourth letter. Respectively, these denote which mash bill mixture and the type of yeast used in the recipe.

O _ S _

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
  • Variable 1
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • Variable 2

Variable 1: Four Roses mash bill

Two pie charts depicting the two Four Roses mashbill ratios of corn rye and barley

Four Roses use 2 different mash bill recipes instead of just one. Each recipe uses different ratios of corn, rye and malted barley. These are called Mash bill B and Mash bill E and are the first variable in the Four Roses recipes system.

  • Mash bill B: 60% corn / 35% rye / 5% malted barley
  • Mash bill E: 75% corn / 20% rye / 5% malted barley

Eg: OBS_ or OES_

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
  • B or E
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • Variable 2

Variable 2: Four Roses Yeast Strain

Diagram explaining the Four Roses recipes system

Four Roses also use 5 different yeast strains, each delivering their own unique flavour during the fermentation stage. These 5 yeasts have their own code-letter which is the second variable in the Four Roses recipes system.

  • V = Rye & delicate fruit
  • K = Rye & baking spice
  • O = Rich fruit
  • Q = Rye & light floral character
  • F = Delicate rye & herbal notes

Eg: OBSV or OESV

The 10 bourbon recipes by Four Roses

Multiplying the 2 mash bills with 5 yeast strains results in the 10 individual bourbon recipes used at Four Roses. See below for each recipe.

5 Mash bill ‘B’ recipes

Recipe: 1 OBSV

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, KY
  • B = Mash bill B
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • V = Yeast strain (Delicate fruit)

Recipe: 2 OBSK

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, KY
  • B = Mash bill B
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • K = Yeast strain (Rye & spice)

Recipe: 3 OBSO

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, KY
  • B = Mash bill B
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • O = Yeast strain (Rich fruit)

Recipe: 4 OBSQ

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, KY
  • B = Mash bill B
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • Q = Yeast strain (Floral)

Recipe: 5 OBSF

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, KY
  • B = Mash bill B
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • F = Yeast strain (Herbal notes)

5 Mash bill ‘E’ recipes

Recipe: 6 OESV

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, KY
  • E = Mash bill E
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • V = Yeast strain (Delicate fruit)

Recipe: 7 OESK

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, KY
  • E = Mash bill E
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • K = Yeast strain (Rye & spice)

Recipe: 8 OESO

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, KY
  • E = Mash bill E
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • O = Yeast strain (Rich fruit)

Recipe: 9 OESQ

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, KY
  • E = Mash bill E
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • Q = Yeast strain (Floral)

Recipe: 10 OESF

  • O = made in Lawrenceburg, KY
  • E = Mash bill E
  • S = Straight whiskey
  • F = Yeast strain (Herbal notes)

Four Roses FAQ’s

Is Four Roses considered a good bourbon?

Four Roses is considered a good bourbon and is one of the most popular from Kentucky. By using two different mash bill recipes, combined with five unique yeast strains, both their single barrel and blended bourbons are well-balanced, smooth and flavourful, making them an ideal choice for any occasion.

How do you drink Four Roses bourbon?

Four Roses whiskeys are usually enjoyed neat or with a little water/ice. These are the best ways to enjoy any of these Kentucky bourbons and savour their complex flavour profiles. However, here’s a full list of ways to drink Four Roses.

  1. Neat
  2. On the Rocks
  3. With a Splash of Water
  4. Highball Cocktails (such as Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Mint Julep)
  5. Whiskey Sours and Collins Drinks
  6. Mixed with Cola or Ginger Ale
  7. In Coffee or Tea-Based Drinks

Is Four Roses Bourbon good for beginners?

Yes, Four Roses Bourbon is a good starting point for beginning whiskey enthusiasts. Four Roses’ whiskeys are relatively gentle and approachable in terms of flavour and complexity, compared to other bourbons on the market. This makes them great for those who are just learning about bourbon whiskeys and might be put off by intense flavours or heavy booziness. Four Roses also has an excellent price point relative to its quality.

Is Four Roses a cheap bourbon?

While Four Roses is not considered to be a cheap bourbon, it’s definitely one of the more affordable options on the market. Four Roses produces an excellent variety of reasonably priced whiskeys that won’t break the bank. Plus, because their bourbons are so flavourful and well-balanced, they can easily compete with other high-end brands. So if you’re looking for an inexpensive yet delicious bourbon whiskey, Four Roses is definitely worth considering.

Can you drink Four Roses straight?

Yes, Four Roses is absolutely delicious when enjoyed neat or with a splash of water. This way you can really savour its complex flavours without any distractions from other mixers or ingredients. Four Roses has 10 unique recipes that vary in flavour profiles and intensity, ranging from fruity to herbal and everywhere in between. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced whiskey connoisseur, there’s definitely something for everyone in Four Roses Bourbon’s range.

Can you sip Four Roses Bourbon?

Yes, Four Roses Bourbon can be sipped neat or with a splash of water. However, because Four Roses’ range of recipes vary in intensity and complexities, it’s best to start off slowly. It may take some time for your palate to adjust to the different flavours and nuances of Four Roses Bourbons. But if you take your time, you’ll find that each Four Roses recipe is an excellent whiskey for sipping.

Conclusion

Now that you know more about Four Roses recipes system and ways to drink Four Roses Bourbon, why not try some yourself? Grab a bottle today and experience this Kentucky brand’s distinctive flavour notes that range from sweet fruity tones to spicy rye characters.

Cheers.

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