The dark cognac color of this whiskey augurs a powerful experience for the drinker, and right away, it delivers: on the nose, the burn rushes like nitrous oxide through the sinuses after an inebriated dentist has spun the valve on the tank in an attempt to empty the whole thing into your head. After that, the experience is nearly hallucinogenic–or trascendental, it’s hard to tell, exactly–with the aromas themselves recalling being fitted for a full-face-covering oak helmet just after getting leied. A dog barks in the distance, you take your first sip, and you realize that this is the hair of the dog that bit you–before you got bit. Part of that realization comes as you feel this whiskey’s finish: it goes all the way back into the hypothalamus, triggering the full range of primitive emotions Paul Ekman has catalogued. Among those emotions is the wonder–at both the sight and the smell–of a Stuckey’s gift shop in the Ozarks that offers a few too many finished wood products. There is honey here, too, but it’s honey laced with meth–or perhaps a honey-tiger balm speedball. A little water not only opens this bourbon up, but also takes it to an entirely new level–and adds a faint hint of brine, like a visit to a catfish farm or sweat flecks from a thoroughbred as he carries you to the happily ever after. This whiskey is so incredibly layered and complex, the inside of the casks in which it was aged must be utterly despoiled, rendered either a white, chalky husk or a surface smooth and hard as marble. Just imagine what it’ll do to your insides. No wait, you can’t.
The Four Roses 100th Anniversary Limited Edition Bourbon is the establishment of Yellowstone National Park–it led nations all over the world to set aside millions of acres, hectares, and square miles of pristine land and hold them in the public trust–and that’s a remarkably good thing.