I was hesitant to provide a review of this first pour of Old Fourth Distillery Select Barrel Series Cognac Cask Finished Bourbon because it is one of the strangest tastings I've experienced. Frankly, there are notes I can’t describe. I will give this finished bourbon time to open up, but here are my tasting notes on the first pour in the interim.
The first thing you notice about this bourbon is its color. Looking at the bottle, you may think that the bottle has a tint to it; no, that is the dark color of the bourbon. It is a dark caramel chocolate color and one of the darkest bourbons I’ve ever seen.
Strange, but the aroma initially smells like sweet tar. This is one of the most bizarre and perplexing noses I’ve encountered. There are notes I can’t describe.
At 135 proof, I can feel the ethanol when I nose the bourbon. It tingles my nose hairs, but strangely there is no strong ethanol aroma. There is also this smokey and oily medicinal smell that I don’t think I’ve previously experienced. The aroma evolves into a dark chocolate and caramel mixture, especially after sitting in the glass for a while. Additionally, heavy, heavy char dominates the palate. This is a complex and peculiar tasting experience.
What's next? Sweet leather and toasted oak. Some caramel tries to fight through dark cocoa and a black pepper mix. A lot is going on here, and, frankly, it’s hard to wade through.
Old Fourth Distillery Select Barrel Series Cognac Cask Finished Bourbon drinks smoother than its 135-proof and drinks like something around 115-proof.
The finish is good, with a medium to long length in the esophagus but not too hot in the back of the throat even though, again, it’s 135 proof.
This is a unique tasting experience. The only thing I can think of that is even remotely similar is Four Gate the Kelvin Collaboration II. However, this is $70 less expensive.
I will update these notes after my second tasting.