Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition is routinely one of the most anticipated limited edition bourbons in the September release season because Four Roses has so much flexibility with its ten recipes and variety of ages, so it’s always unique. This year I tasted the Small Batch Limited Edition with Master Distiller Brent Elliott and a dozen lucky recipients of samples.
I asked Brent whether it was intentional to keep the high-rye “B” mash bill so restricted here, to less than 20%. The lower-rye (but still higher rye than almost every other distillery) “E” mash bill historically is used more often for the limited editions. Brent said that he really did not focus on the rye content, and instead is more focused on the yeast. The “K” and “V” yeasts are perennial favorites and used extensively each year. This year, the big news is the use of “Q,” albeit at only 6%. But, as Brent explained, a little bit of Q goes a long way.
2021 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition Tasting Notes
Bourbon: Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distillery: Four Roses, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
16-year OBSV – 13%
16-year OESV – 58%
14-year OBSQ – 6%
12-year OESK – 23%
ABV: 57.2% (114.4 proof)
Brown with a reddish glint.
Brown sugar, caramel, dark chocolate, candy apple, and leather create mouth-watering aromas.
The flavors are incredibly well balanced with plenty of sweetness like butterscotch, more brown sugar, and honey, combined with a firm antique oak backbone, probably from the OESV, and this oak really drives the overall experience. The “youngest” component—the 12-year OESK—brings vibrancy and spice, but not as much of the rich berry flavors that Four Roses knows so well. And even at just 6%, the OBSQ pronounces its inclusion with candied sweetness and baked cinnamon apples, but the age mellowed the Q’s floral notes.
The finish is long and layered with complexity. It unfolds with cinnamon and vanilla, and the last few sips—after plenty of chance to open up—shifts more to chocolate and dark cherries.
Brent and his team have another home run this year with Q continuing to shine, just like it has in the single barrel program, with uniqueness that makes this limited edition stand out from its peers. With only 14,500 bottles they’ll be difficult to find, but this Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition will also be available at the distillery gift shop through a lottery system open online to the public. Good luck in the lottery!
Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly
sent me a sample for this review,
without any strings attached.