I don’t tend to find myself drinking that much bourbon these days. After expanding my interest and time in all things whisky I have found that single malts tend to agree more with my palate. Bourbon will no doubt have a special place as my introduction into whisk(e)y but these days the bitter harsh wood tannins found in many bourbons leave me reaching for something else. But when my local store manager offered me a chance to purchase the new Four Roses Small Batch release I knew I just had to try it. Four Roses has been the latest ‘got to have’ in the world of bourbon racking up awards and being named 2012 and 2013 American Whiskey of the Year by Whisky Advocate. Four Roses is interesting in that they have two different mash bills (recipes) and 5 different yeast strains when it comes to their bourbon making process. I’ve never heard of distillery so interested in a variety of different yeast strains but it’s certainly paying off for them. This particular bottling is made up of three recipes; 18-year-old (high rye mash with a delicate fruit flavor yeast) 13-year-old (high rye mash with a spice flavor yeast) and another 13-year-old (high corn mash with a spice flavor yeast). Transparency people it’s a good thing. Well let’s see what all the fuss is about.
Type: Bourbon Region: Kentucky
ABV: 51.6% Color: Amber +3 Body: Med
Nose: Extremely aromatic and intense. At over 50% ABV we get the obvious fumes of alcohol but it’s countered well by the rich notes of french vanilla, brandied cherries, banana, pumpkin pie and hints of honey. There’s also some toasted oak, cigar box, leather, wood varnish, café cubano and milk chocolate. With water the spices open; cinnamon, white peppercorn and clove
Palate: Rich caramel and vanilla followed by a heap of spices. Cinnamon (Big Red Gum), turmeric, nutmeg, ginger and black pepper. Hints of tropical fruit like banana and pineapples. Some espresso and milk chocolate as well. Just a splash of water will do as it drowns easily.
Finish: Oak but not overly woodsy and bitter. French vanilla, dark coffee, tamarind, orange rind and cherry cough drops and is medium to long.
Overall: Rich and robust. Full of flavors and depth and it’s able to do what so many bourbons fail to do and that is rein in the wood. Perhaps a bit too cinnamon-y on the palate for my tastes but all in all a very good bourbon. Excellent cask selection.