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Review: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

This is an exciting review for me because Four Roses is new to my region; just hit the shelves of the NH State Liquor Stores this week at about $25 a bottle.  This bottle, however, is not my first.  The summer after I graduated college I was on a road trip from California to New Hampshire with one of my closest comrades, and he had a bottle of Four Roses.  Thing was, he didn’t like it all that much.  At the time I believe he was very accustomed to drinking his bourbon almost exclusively in old-fashioneds or neat, and to him the Four Roses was too hot to be enjoyable for either.  If you’ve read any of these posts you’ll know that I took that as a challenge, and I think I traded for the bottle or something.  I have the vague memory of enjoying the bottle, though I suspect it fell victim to the first round of swigging madness upon a late night / early morning arrival into Lake Tahoe.  Anyways, that was my background for this bottle, and I was quite pleased for a reunion when my dad brought it into the door for ritual sacrifice to the son god.

Perhaps you’re reading this because you want to know what I think about this bourbon, rather than just to listening to my mutterings of blurred memories.  So here it goes.  First of all, I want to take a moment to ruminate on the uniqueness of the process by which Four Roses is made.  Since the brand was revived in the early 2000s Four Roses has made 10 different bourbons, and this small batch (from my understanding) is a mixture of 4 of those bourbons.  So it’s a blend.  I like to think, however, that this isn’t a blend in the way a cheap scotch blend is, but closer to a vintner’s meritage, carefully blended and tasted not to create a more consistent product, but a better, more balanced and complex one.  Now for the product of this process: the first impressions are good, rich color and an even richer nose, sweet and surprisingly light with a soft pear like fruitiness and the ever present vanilla expressions of the bourbon barrel.  Drank neat this bourbon is very mellow and warm to my palate, with a mellow caramel flavor and a great oily mouthfeel that lingers to expose some of the more delicate flavors like the soft spice, and slight blueberry like fruit notes.  While it isn’t hot to me like my friend once thought, it’s certainly pleasantly warm and leaves that warmth all along its path as it goes down to settle in and bring you that lovely buzz.  Overall this is extremely smooth and well balanced bourbon to my tastes, but perhaps this is just this “small batch.”  While I love high rye, spicy, and combative bourbon, this is exceptionally easy drinking and pleasant. But maybe my friend was right way back when and I’ve just driven my palate to the brink.  Regardless, if finances and NH State Liquor Commission stocking permits, I’d love to explore more of the many offering Four Rose has.  Somehow this bourbon has exceeded my foggy memories, and with its mellow warmth it has helped to ease my mind by the warm fire of a fall night, far away from our first excited, chaotic and fateful meeting.Imageon

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3 responses to “Review: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

  1. My wife bought me the Four Roses Single Barrel (not yearly special, but the standard) and I am thoroughly enjoying it. My local ABC store hasn’t had the small batch and has been spotty on the standard (yellow label). I’m eager to try both.

  2. Sounds like she’s a keeper! I’m only had the small batch, but I consider it a mission to find more after that bottle

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