Tasting Notes: Four Roses Small Batch Select


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In February of this year, Four Roses announced that it would be adding the “fourth rose” to its product lineup – the Small Batch Select – the first permanent product-line extension for the distillery in nearly 12 years. Suffice to say, this was a major announcement and its didn’t take long for the bourbon community to get excited about this new release. I’ll be the first to admit that I was thrilled about this release and as a big Four Roses fan, I was willing to pay a premium to get my hands on a bottle early on.

According to Brent Elliot, the Master Distiller at Four Roses:

“We wanted to add something to our lineup that brings that pure experience you get with a non-chill filtered Bourbon, while also showcasing some of our recipes and flavors that aren’t as forward facing in our other existing bottles.

While Small Batch Select can certainly be one of your special occasion Bourbons, we want it to be more accessible so you don’t hesitate to open up that bottle and enjoy it any time.”

You can find the original press release from Four Roses Here

This bourbon is a blend of 6 and 7-year old bourbons made from 6 unique Four Roses recipes: OBSV, OBSK, OBSF, OESV, OESK and OESF. If you want to find out more about Four Roses’ various mashbills, follow this link to their website. This bourbon is non-chill filtered and comes in at 104 proof (52% abv).

Currently, Small Batch Select is only being sold in Kentucky, New York, California, Texas, and Georgia, but I was able to find a bottle from an out-of-state retailer for a relatively decent price. According to the distillery, the price point for this bottle will vary by retailer and location, but it appears the MSRP is generally in the range of $50-70. However, prices on the secondary market seem to be increasing every day, with some online retailers already asking more than $100.


Tasting

Appearance – medium amber.

Nose – the nose suggests a relatively sweet profile with heavy caramel, baking spice (cinnamon), cocoa powder, some oak, and some very mild notes of stone fruit that became more noticeable with time.

Palate – this bourbon is fairly thin on the initial presentation. Along with a slight alcohol burn I found candied peanut, more baking spices, vanilla, some dark fruit notes, and oak. The flavors here didn’t feel as developed and cohesive as I hoped.

Finish – there is a medium finish leaving a fairly thin mouthfeel. There is a peppery spice that develops and is accented by baking spices (mainly vanilla and nutmeg), light licorice, and more oak. I also found some very mild chocolate peppermint notes that rounded out the pour.

Overall – I hate to admit it, but I was somewhat disappointed with the Small Batch Select. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see Four Roses add to their product lineup and this is a nice sipping whiskey, but I thought this expression was a little thin and lacking in terms of overall flavor. After my initial tasting I did a side-by-side comparison with Four Roses Small Batch, and I found almost as much flavor in that release, which retails for $20-$40 less than this new release. That variation in price really affected my overall review of this bottle.

86I am happy to have the Small Batch Select in my collection, but I’m not confident this bottle will make a regular appearance in my cabinet at the current price point. Its a pleasant Four Roses bourbon, but I just didn’t find the depth and complexity of flavor I was hoping for. In my humble opinion, this bourbon felt unfinished and would have benefited from a few more years in the barrel. I will definitely re-visit this bottle in a few weeks to see if anything changes. In the meantime, let me know what you think of this new release from Four Roses!

Cheers!

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