By Randall H. Borkus
Four Roses Distillery was established in 1888, and today it is the only Bourbon distillery that combines two mashbills with five proprietary yeast strains to make ten distinct Bourbon recipes, each with its own unique flavor profile. Although all ten recipes are used in the standard Four Roses Yellow Label, it is in the annual limited edition small batch that being able to pick and choose among aged stocks of them allows for a showcase of what Four Roses can do.
Master Distiller Brent Elliott is known to create numerous test blends from select barrels in an effort to mingle only the best of his Kentucky juice for the limited edition offering. This year’s release features three of the distillery’s distinctive bourbons, but the choices set this year’s blend apart as the first in the distillery’s history to feature only the low rye mashbill. For the 2017 Small Batch, Master Distiller Brent Elliott tells me he selected a 15-year-old Bourbon from Four Roses’ OESK recipe (20%), a 13-year-old OESK (40%) and a 12-year-old OESV (40%), yielding 13,800 bottles at a cask strength of 107.9 proof (53.9% ABV).
The 2017 Limited Edition Small Batch is a beautiful ruddy dark amber that clings like syrup to the sides of my glass. The nose is inviting with hints warm vanilla bean, over ripe apricot and sweet oak spice.
The flavor bursts on my palate with over ripened fruit flavors giving way to hints canned cherries, maple and sweet oak spice. The mouthfeel is amazing as over ripened fruit flavors continues with a floral essence sprinkled with ground vanilla bean all dancing in a syrupy grandstand in the back of my throat. A few drops of water open up even more prominent flavors of butterscotch, sweet candy, molasses and a touch of chocolate mocha.
The finish is delightfully long with weighty notes of caramel, burnt sugar, hints of molasses and sweet oak spice sprinkled with cinnamon dust. The empty glass, which always comes too soon with a 100 ml sample, reverberates with a mature sawmill essence of fresh cut oak wood.
This low rye mashbill selection is an amazing bourbon whiskey and promises a memorable flavor experience. I must say Four Roses has done it again for me, as the Limited Edition Small Batch is one of my personal favorites for this year.
The suggested retail price is a worthy $130.00 for a 750 ml bottle.