Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2014

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Four Roses is quite a staple brand on the bourbon market, even out here in Israel we get the regular one along with the fantastically priced Small Batch and the Single Barrel. I’ve tried all of the and found that I like the Small Batch best, I found the Single Barrels a little hit or miss, whereas the Small Batch is consistently good. What I was not aware of was that there is an annually released limited edition of the Small Batch and Single Barrel.

I was made aware of this at this year’s Whisky Live when my friend Assaf handed me a glass of something and told me to try it, and it was fantastic. Somehow Four Roses’ importer here had gotten hold of a handful of bottles of the 2014 Small Batch Limited Edition and was selling them off at the show for 300 shekels. At the time I knew it was a steal for such an amazing bourbon. Later after checking prices I realised that this stuff sells for over $100 in the USA.

What I really like with this bottle is the sheer amount of information they give you. I know the ABV, bottle number, batch size, and best of all, what exactly went into it. On the back label is listed:

  • OBSK – 9years
  • OBSV –  13 years
  • OESV- 12 years
  • OBSF – 11 years

These codes are for some of the various recipes used by Four Roses to make their spirit. I shall save you a brief Google and explain. The ‘O’ and ‘S’ are constants here, ‘O’ indicating spirit distilled at the Four Roses distillery and ‘S’ denotes a straight whiskey. The 2nd letter indicates the mashbill, in this case we have:

  • E: 75% corn, 20% rye and 5% malt
  • B: 60% corn, 35% rye and 5% malt

The fourth letter indicates the strain of yeast used, these are designated by the letter used. This is good whiskey geek stuff.

Aged 9 years. 55.9%ABV. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength. 

Nose: Coconut. Vanilla. Acacia sap. Bostik brown glue. Candy apples. Candied orange peel. Wet, light wood. Nectarine. Light but very present woodspice. Slight hint of chocolate milk.

Palate: Very big and complex. At first a bite of bitter wood and cinnamon then some juicy citrus and stone fruits, waxy fruit peels and finally a flourish of chocolate with orange peel.

Finish: Very long, and like the palate, very complex. Evolving from a bitter woody, spicy note, to sweet vanilla fudge and juicy stone fruits and then back to bitter wood with some cacao.

Would I buy this: Yes

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 3/5 (4/5 where I got it)

What a whiskey! This was a superbly complex bourbon full of rich fruits and wood influence and chocolate, a real roller coaster of flavour, and the cask strength (or barrel proof in American) really drives it all home. Fantastic stuff.

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