2018 was an exceptional year for bourbon.
Personally, I was lucky enough to spend a week in Kentucky visiting most of the distilleries and (over) indulging in our native spirit. I also had the opportunity to go bourbon hunting in 10 different states, resulting in some pretty amazing additions to my bourbon cabinet. I drank more bourbon this past year than I ever thought possible and I have been lucky enough to sample some of the best bourbon in the world.
However, after all of that, one of my best trophies ultimately came to me right after Christmas, with only a few days left in the year. During a random visit to Publix I decided to walk into the liquor store just to browse their selection, and I ended up finding one of the best bottles in my collection, and for less than MSRP!
This is my top bourbon of 2018: the Four Roses 130th Anniversary!
This bourbon is a blend of four different bourbons aged for 10, 13, 14, and 16 years, and made from two mashbills: OBSV and OBSF (60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley), and OESV and OESK (75% corn, 20% rye, and 5%). This particular blend comes in at 108.4 proof (54.2% abv).
This is bottle 7160 out of 13140.
The MSRP for this bottle is $139.99 but good luck finding it at all, especially at that price. A quick search from online auctions and retailers suggest this bottle is currently going for $400-$500.
Appearance – dark orange amber.
Nose – the nose of this blend is just exceptional! It is strong and complex, and the flavors continued developing over time. Initially, the nose was sweet, reminiscent of vanilla buttercream and maple syrup, with no alcohol present. The nose continued to open up to caramel, pecans, honey crisp apple, some citrus, and notes of pine.
Palate – this bourbon presents quickly, packing tons of the flavors I expect from a Four Roses bourbon. It is soft on the palate but it leaves a wonderful mouthfeel, and there is just the right amount of burn from the high alcohol content. I initially thought of dried fruits with this bottle, mainly apricot, as well as dark cherry. There are also notes of oak, barrel spice, and more subtle hints of green apple.
Finish – the finish is long, warm, and complex- exactly what you hope for from a quality bourbon. I lost the sweet fruit notes and found myself dealing with a rich and robust flavor profile full of vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, and spice.
Overall – I had no intention on trying to pick a “Top Bourbon” for 2018, but that all changed when I stumbled upon this bottle from Four Roses. This bourbon is strong, flavorful, and complex, and somehow all of the diverse flavors blend together to create an exceptionally well-rounded bourbon. Unfortunately, this bourbon is rare enough that I need to let it sit on the shelf for a while, but suffice to say I will be looking for an excuse to open this bottle up again soon!