This very special blend of Four Roses Small Batch in its throwback 1960’s bottle was selected by Al Young in honor of his 50 years with the company. According to Four Roses, the blend looks like this:
5% 23-year OBSV, 25% 15-year OBSK, 50% 13-year OESV, and 20% 12-year OBSF. The four-letter codes represent production facility, mashbill, distillation process, and yeast strain, and are explained in this online educational tool.
Now, I’ve reviewed other Four Roses bourbons, and I will review more in the future [hint hint], and while I haven’t reviewed their “regular” small batch yet, I’ve had it… regularly… in my house. And yes, I am a fan. BUT, am I a fan of a blend of Four Roses at 107.6 proof? In my no mincing of words quote:
The name on the bottle of ‘Four Roses Small Batch 2017 Limited Edition Barrel Strength Bourbon’ is more impressive than what’s in the bottle.
First up, yes, it’s hot. At 107.6 proof (my bottle has a handwritten 53.8% on it) I was expecting the heat. Sadly, the flavors can’t quite compete.
Now, the nose isn’t that hot. It’s surprising to me that something this hot, with a scent that easily escapes the glass at room temperature, doesn’t just burn my nose when I go in for a sniff. So, good job there. The scent is heavy with leather and the expected helping of kettle corn. Dried fruit scent reminds me of figs or dates.
The flavors on the palate mostly match up, with the addition of (the expected) baking spices and a hit of clover honey. Sadly, the flavors are muted by the heat of the high proof. While adding a splash of water mellow the heat, it does not help the flavors… leaving them muddled. And that signature bramble flavor in every bottle of Four Roses is nearly nonexistent.
The finish is long and hot, but smooth down the throat. Of course, my lips are left tingling after every sip.
It may be that I’ve just reviewed a superlative Tennessee Sour Mash, but I’m a tad let down by this Limited Edition offering from Four Roses. Given its price and scarcity, I expected much more. It’s not that this is bad, it just doesn’t live up to expectations.
Would I refuse a glass? No. Would I give my bottle away? Oh hell no! Would I happily sip a glass after a rough day at work? Yes. Which means:
Final Rating: 90 out of 100