Updated August 31, 2016
By Richard Thomas
Now that the whiskey is in the bottles and the release is in motion, what exactly Four Roses latest Single Barrel Limited Edition (LE), Elliott’s Select, will be is now confirmed. I say “confirmed” because the story about this new bourbon, the first new Master Distiller Brent Elliott can claim as being fully his own, has changed from what it was just a couple of months ago.
This is because, as Brent himself explained at a small Bardstown press event on Monday, June 6, Elliott’s Select was an almost improvised release, going from concept to bottling in record time. Initially the whiskey used in Elliott’s Select was destined for use in a Small Batch LE to commemorate Jim Rutledge, the former and longtime Four Roses Master Distiller. Rutledge, however, reportedly wasn’t interested in having his own Small Batch LE, and retired one year ago.
After Elliott took over, the conversation moved to introducing him to bourbon drinkers at large with a Single Barrel LE. He felt two of the consignments he had been looking at for the Rutledge Small Batch could serve as the basis for his own Single Barrel. Initially reports described this release as including both consignments, but Elliott settled on the 14 year old OESK, a personal favorite among Four Roses’ ten mashbill and yeast combinations.
Another detail that has changed, one sure to make Four Roses diehards very happy, is the production run for Elliott’s Select is 10,000 bottles, not the previously reported 8,000, which was based on a conservative estimate. Furthermore, the release will be distributed solely in the U.S.
As a single barrel and a cask strength, individual bottlings will vary between 100.5 and 120.7 proof. The samples I tried were 116 proof.
In the glass, the bourbon presents a clear, coppery and bright amber appearance, with thin, but snail’s pace legs. The nose is thickly sweet, deep into caramel and maple territory, with notes of peach and apricot. Going from there, the flavor smacks of a bourbon peach cobbler. It’s rich, fruity, done up with a big dollop of vanilla extract, and a bit on the spicy side with a spoonful of ginger. The finish is long, lasting, warm, and quite minty sweet.
The fruity aspect is no surprise, not for an OESK single barrel. Instead, two things really stand out about Elliott’s Select. One is how well-rounded and -balanced it is. The other is how, at 58% ABV, just how easy-drinking its. No water required, although you may want it if that is your habit. And, on a day when the mercury was pushing 90F, I discovered it held up very well indeed on the rocks.
Addendum by Randall H. Borkus
This is an amazing bourbon whiskey, a true Kentucky juice master piece that should stand up over time as a memorable experience. To give that endorsement an extra stamp, I have stocked up myself with multiple bottles.
In May of 2016, I had the good fortune to meet Master Distiller Brent Elliot as he escorted our party (which included our own Padre John Rayls) through his backyard at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY, and then we enjoyed a sit down and tasting in his lab. One of the items on our tasting list was a “mature OESK” as Elliot put it. He didn’t make any claims that it was the Four Roses Single Barrel Limited Edition (LE), Elliott’s Select, but I can tell you as I look back upon my notes from the day, the OESK was one of my absolute favorites of an enjoyable tasting tour.
This is a 14 year old single barrel gem (721/10,224), done at cask strength. My bottle’s ABV is 59.3%. The bottle discloses “Sediment from the barrel may be present in this non-chill filtered Bourbon”. The really great news for American-based, American whiskey fans is this limited edition release will be distributed solely in the U.S.
In my glass, the bourbon is a beautiful transparent coppery brown with a tawny hue. The legs are a bit thin yet move slowly down the sides of my glass in a teasing manner. The nose is alive with caramel and honey sweetness, and significant notes of freshly cut fruits. Upon the very first sip, the flavor jumps out with fruits, a light spice and caramel. This is a rich full bodied, well-rounded bourbon whiskey with a great mouth feel. A little warm yet very smooth drinking with a continued fruitiness, sprinkles of vanilla and caramel, and a thoughtfully place spicy slap in the back of the throat making me beg for more.
The finish is exceptionally long, and warm, with a lingering minty wood spice. When the glass was empty for a few minutes I pick it up to smell the remains. I call this the afterglow of a good whiskey. The afterglow here is amazing as you can really discern some serious oak remnants left behind from the wood oils oxidizing while clinging onto the inside of the glass. I am learning a lot about a whiskey’s character these days by judging its afterglow in the glass. The best whiskeys have a long and sultry afterglow.
Elliott’s Select LE 2016 is one of my personal favorites this year. Just exceptional and fun to drink. The OESK single barrels are notoriously known for the bounty of fruitiness and this Limited Edition 2016 will not disappoint. This smooth-drinking Kentucky juice leads my taste buds longing for just one more splash!
The recommended retail price is $125 per bottle. Randall Borkus reported the retail price in his local area, Chicago was around the $150 mark.