The Four Roses Small Batch Select is the first new product other than limited special bottlings that Four Roses has released in years. I am glad that they are planning to release this on a regular basis because it is a very good Bourbon and it will be nice to be able to get it without worrying about it selling out and then having to pay exuberant prices if you do find it on the shelf.
This whiskey is different from the normal small batch Four Roses. First of all it is 104 proof. It is a mixture of six different Bourbons using both mash bills and three yeast strains – V,K, and I. The whiskey is all aged at least 6 years and this bottling states that there are some 7 year old Bourbon used in the mingling of barrels. It reminds me a lot of the Black Label Four Roses they sell in Japan, but more complex. The Platinum label, sold in Japan also uses two of the same yeast strains, is 10 years old and also has some of the same flavor characteristics as this new expression. In my opinion, this new expression is a little better than either of the Japanese expressions.
Four Roses Small Batch Select
Age: NAS but a mingling of 6 and 7 year old Bourbons
Nose: Very floral – honeysuckle and dare I say, roses? Vanilla and caramel notes up front with lots of ripe apples and pears with a hint of oak and tobacco.
Taste: Buttered caramel with ripe apples and cinnamon with a little oak and tobacco. It has a very nice creamy mouth-feel without any burn and just a nice warmth in the mouth. Tasted with a dried cranberry brings out an orange zest and even more caramel. Tasted with a pecan and the tobacco, fine leather and oak come forward at the expense of the fruit, but the fruit is still there, hiding in the background.
Finish: Long and dry with the oak and baking spice notes. The cranberry shortens the finish but also makes it much sweeter. The pecan makes it very spicy with lots of oak and the spice is more peppery.
I chose a Nub Maduro cigar to go with this Bourbon. I find the smoke to be a rich tobacco with notes of vanilla and cedar spiciness. The Bourbon added a chocolate note to the smoke and the cigar brought forward lots of orange zest citrus notes and butterscotch in the Bourbon. It was a very nice pairing but I feel this Bourbon will go well with most any cigar.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller