Updated May 22, 2016
By Richard Thomas
Average Rating: C+
Four Roses Small Batch bourbon whiskey is not to be confused with the Small Batch Limited Edition series from the same distillery. The former is easy to identify, as while both small batch bourbons come in somewhat ovoid bottles, the regular Four Roses Small Batch has a paper label. The limited edition has its label inked on the bottle, and that label notes the release year and (usually) that the bourbon within is “barrel strength.”
Like the entry-level whiskey from this Lawrenceburg distillery, Four Roses Yellow Label, the Small Batch is a blend of bourbons, using four of the ten bourbons distilled on the premises. Two of the chosen whiskeys come from their high corn mashbill, 75% corn in fact, and although the proportion used in Four Roses Small Batch isn’t known, that choice suggests moving a step away from the distillery’s high rye reputation.
Four Roses Small Batch is bottled at 90 proof (45% alcohol). In keeping with the style set by Four Roses Yellow Label, the Small Batch is a sweet bourbon, albeit also a more spicy one.
On the nose, the bourbon comes across as sweetly fruity, with a mellow helping of warm, winter spices. On the palate, the bourbon becomes much more full-bodied, with the spiciness coming to the forefront and the sweetness retreating well into the background. With so much spice on the palate, I was left wondering if the bourbons used to make Four Roses Small Batch weren’t chosen for their extra rye content. The bourbon has a long finish, opening with a spicy bite that fades quickly.
As much as I like the Four Roses line, I don’t have much love for the Four Roses Small Batch. While not terrible, the bourbon’s sweet and spicy aspects never quite meshed, making it subpar for a small batch offering at its price.
Addendum by Debbie Shocair
Aroma: Caramel, Honey, Vanilla-citrus
After breaking it with ½ tsp water, a pleasant grassy-citrus became noticeable
The mouthfeel was mostly at the tip of the tongue.
Finish: Citrus, with a lingering grassiness giving way to a final acerbic note.
Four Roses Small batch typically goes for $35 a bottle, although I have seen it priced as low as $28 on some liquor store shelves.
Four Roses Small Batch recieved the Judges’ Best Award from Taste of the Bluegrass, the Silver Award from the International Spirits Challenge, and a 5-star rating from The Spirits Journal in 2007, the label’s launch year.