Picking A Four Roses Single Barrel For The Derby Festival Steamboat Race

Well that’s a mouthful, but it certainly beats using the word “pivot” or “virtual” in the title.

Every year Four Roses sponsors the Great Steamboat Race for the Kentucky Derby Festival. If you aren’t from around here, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost, you’re rooting for the Belle of Louisville. Even if they cheat, which sometimes they do. It’s all in good fun.

Second, there is a Four Roses single barrel chosen for the event, and if memory serves it’s one special barrel per steamboat that is served to the passengers during the voyage. I took my kids once and they got to meet the Pegasus. It’s a whole thing around here. You can read more about the race including the different activities each crew has to complete over on Louisville Family Fun.

For the 2021 barrel, we had a choice of eight different Four Roses barrels, each one a different one of their ten different recipes. The recipes we had to choose from are OBSK, OESF, OBSQ, OESK, OBSV, OBSO, OESQ, and OBSF. They were all around the 9-10 year age range and came from various levels of the warehouses.

Because the Great Steamboat Race will be limited to accommodate social distancing this year, only one barrel was chosen.

We met over Zoom, where Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott talked a little bit about the ten recipes and general tasting guidelines, and then each taster went through all eight samples to rank and take notes. We asked questions as we went – what proof will these be bottled at and the like. After everyone had an opportunity to taste through all the samples and take notes, Elliott called on each taster to rank their first and second choice.

The barrel that was chosen was every single taster’s first or second choice, which is generally a good indication that it’s going to be popular among consumers. Overall, picking barrels virtually doesn’t differ a ton from being there in person, aside from the fact that being there in person is just a whole lot more fun.

For the Four Roses nerds, it’s an OESK from the 3rd tier that is exactly 10 years old.

This barrel will be sold at Kroger stores when it gets closer to Derby Festival time here in Louisville, so keep an eye out there.

Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl


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