With a release in limited markets beginning today, Four Roses now has its “Fourth Rose,” an additional small batch added to the permanent lineup of Four Roses (which contains all 10 Four Roses recipes), Four Roses Small Batch (which contains OBSK, OESK, OBSO, and OESO, at 90 proof), and Four Roses Single Barrel (the OBSV recipe, except for private barrels, which can be any recipe).
Small Batch Select contains six of the Four Roses recipes—OBSV and OESV, OBSK and OESK, and OBSF and OESF. Four Roses is bottling its new bourbon non-chill filtered at 104 proof, which is the highest proof for its regular releases, although of course private selections and limited releases weigh in at higher proofs.
I was able to spend some time with Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott last week to taste the new Small Batch Select and to taste all six of its components from actual barrels used in the batch. Brent explained that the new Small Batch Select is heavier on the high-rye B mash bill, the V yeast, then the K yeast, with both of the F yeast mash bills combining for only about 20%. As Brent said, a little bit of F goes a long way. Brent also explained that the F and V combination was inspired by the Al Young 50th Anniversary limited edition.
Being able to try each recipe from barrels actually used was extremely telling about the process of mingling with the success that Four Roses has established. The OESF had strong cinnamon flavors while the OBSF provided a huge backbone. Combining that with my perennial favorites OBSK and OESK (both of which were spicier than single barrels of those recipes that I’ve had, but still provided the fruitiness that I expect) provide components that are recognizable in the final bourbon. The OBSV and OESV were probably the best of the six on their own, as single barrels, both with a blast of flavors, fantastic balance, and a hint of mint in the long finish. The skill necessary for successful mingling cannot be overstated. Now for the final result:
Bourbon: Four Roses Small Batch Select
Distillery: Four Roses, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
Age: Mingling of 6 and 7-year old bourbons
Cost: about $55
Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly sent me a sample for this review, without any strings attached. Thank you.
Brown; darker than I expected.
Also more oak than I expected, although not exactly “oaky.” The aromas focus more on warm cocoa and caramel and pleasant spice.
The cinnamon (from the OESF) really came through with interplay and balance between all of the components. In addition to the cinnamon, I found vanilla, light fruit, and black pepper with a creamy mouthfeel.
Medium length with lingering cinnamon and a mint kicker.
Luckily Kentucky is one of the first markets for Small Batch Select—along with New York, California, Texas, and Georgia—and I expect to be able to find it with some regularity. I really have high hopes for the Fourth Rose on our upcoming hot and humid Kentucky nights; it just might be my bourbon of the summer.
Score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale: 4.0
The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Swill. I might dump the bottle, but will probably save it for my guests who mix with Coke.
2 – Hits the minimum criteria, but given a choice, I’d rather have something else.
3 – Solid Bourbon with only minor shortcomings. Glad to own and enjoy.
4 – Excellent Bourbon. Need to be hyper-critical to find flaws. I’m lucky to have this.
5 – Bourbon perfection. I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.