Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Four Roses. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
I am not a regular imbiber of Four Roses bourbon. So, I went into this tasting with a fresh palate and open mind. What I experienced was a flavor profile and distilling process that I hold much respect for, even if it did not hit my personal mark for what makes a tasty bourbon.
Currently owned by Kirin Brewing, Four Roses has gone through many ownership changes and even a bit of drama about the original ownership and establishment in 1888. Current documentation lists the founder as Paul Jones Jr., leaving out the connection to Rufus Rose. Even with the Japanese owners behind the wheel, Four Roses has always been an American spirits distiller and there are no plans to shift that, especially since bourbon can only be produced in the USA.
With Four Roses 2020 Limited Edition Small Batch, I was treated to a recipe comprised of four well aged spirits, crafted from over a century of tradition in Kentucky bourbon. They take their time at every avenue of the distilling process, procuring high level corn and grains, enlisting a minimum aging process of five years for all their whiskey’s, and adhering to the discipline and traditions that set bourbon apart in a crowd of whiskeys.
This appreciation for the discipline of crafting spirits may be old fashioned but I view it as a respect for the customer to be willing to put this much time and effort into an experience instead of rushing the process for flash. This adherence to tradition and discipline translates to a bold whiskey that will not appease every drinker but can be appreciated for its craft.
For those that really know Four Roses, what’s in the mix here is a 12-year-old bourbon from the OBSV recipe, a 12- year-old OESV, a 16-year-old OESK, and a 19-year-old OBSK. As usual it is limited edition (just 14,040 bottles) and priced around $150.
Tasting Notes: Four Roses 2020 Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon
Vital Stats: This selection is distilled to barrel strength. It is crafted from four distillations ranging in age from 12 years to 19 (a 12-year-old bourbon from the OBSV recipe, a 12- year-old OESV, a 16-year-old OESK, and a 19-year-old OBSK). It is bottled at 55.65% ABV. Prices around $150 per 750 ml.
Appearance: It is light amber with light viscosity clinging to the walls of the glass.
Nose: I caught dark brown sugar, caramel, vanilla up front. These were accompanied by a hint of oak.
Palate: Neat, this whiskey has a smooth, buttery mouth feel with a pleasant warmth that lingers but does not overtake the bright flavors that follow. It is oaky and has a strong cinnamon note. Without water or ice, this bourbon is reminiscent of rum soaked raisins. Add a splash of water and the whiskey mellows out, stripped of its initial medicinal front. It transforms to a spice cake right out of the oven.
I have said it before, tradition trumps inexperience and the folks at Four Roses have released a solid entry into the Kentucky bourbon market with their special edition. Unmolested with water or ice, you will get a bold, spicy, slow sipper. Bring in the accoutrement and this becomes a completely customizable drinking experience with broad possibilities to be augmented in cocktails or enjoyed with a bit of ice.
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As the creator and writer of “Johnny Scotch”, John Dover has built his Jazz Noir world from the music he is immersed in on a daily basis and from his travels across the US as a professional musician. John continues to build the “Johnny Scotch” library through short stories, and...