It was quite an honor for Four Roses to have their 2012 Limited Edition Small Batch bourbon named the 2012 “American Whiskey of the Year” by Whisky Advocate. It also means expectations for this year’s release were set really high. So when I started hearing whispers and rumors about how great this year’s bottling was shaping up to be, I admit I started getting excited. After all, when you hear phrases like “best ever” from the Master Distiller himself it’s hard not to expect great things.
The Four Roses 2013 Limited Edition Small Batch bourbon marks the brand’s second limited edition release celebrating their 125 years of distilling. Here’s the details from the Four Roses’ website:
Four Roses Master Distiller Jim Rutledge personally chose three of Four Roses’ ten unique bourbon recipes to create the new barrel strength, small batch bourbon. The recipes, each with different flavor characteristics, include an 18-year-old selection of Four Roses’ recipe coded OBSV (featuring delicate fruit, spicy and creamy characteristics), a 13-year-old OBSK (rich in spiciness, full body), and a 13-year-old OESK (spicy, full body). The bourbon exhibits aromas of creamy vanilla, light oak and cherry cordial, with hints of nutmeg and cocoa. The palate offers flavors of raspberries and apricots, encompassing a long, luxurious vanilla bean and cherry finish.
This anniversary bottling offers a taste straight from the barrel when the bourbon is uncut and non-chill filtered. Approximately 8,000 bottles of the Four Roses 2013 Limited Edition 125th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon are planned for distribution in September to U.S. markets.
I reached out to Jim Rutledge last week to get his thoughts on this year’s release and here’s what he had to say: “I think it could be the best Bourbon we’ve ever put in a bottle. I selected the recipe and barrels at the end of January, so it’s possible the additional 7 months of aging in wood could have an impact (+/-) on what we saw in January, but hopefully not.”
If you’re not excited after a statement like that from Jim Rutledge you better go back to drinking vodka my friend. Clearly Jim’s excited about this one. Let’s dive into my Four Roses 2013 Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon Review and find out if it lives up to the hype.
Proof: 110 (release bottle proof is TBD)
Age: 13-18 years
How I Drank It: Neat, in Glencairn whiskey glass.
My Nose Noticed:* Vanilla Cream | Cherries | Hint of Oak | Crisp Spice
First Sip: Creamy Vanilla | Honey | Cinnamon | Leather | Spice
The Burn:** There’s a lot going on with this bourbon and it’s all good – very good. First of all, it’s got great legs in the glass and the mouth feel is very fabulous. Exactly how a bourbon should feel. It coated my tongue with a tingling warmth that lasted for minutes – not seconds like many bourbons. At first I thought the finish came up short but I was surprised when it came back with a wonderfully deep warmth that climbed up from the back of my throat steadily with purpose. It’s not often that you get to enjoy your bourbon for 5-10 minutes after taking a sip. This one seemed to go on forever. Wow!
Neat, Splash or Rocks: I thought the spicy notes were a tad bit too prominent on the front when I drank this one neat. After adding a touch of water they were toned down allowing the sweeter notes of vanilla and honey to shine. It’s outstanding either way but my preference is to tone the spice down just a bit.
Share With: Definitely one to share with those that love bourbon and can appreciate the complexity of a release like this one. There’s a lot going on and I found the flavors and aromas were constantly changing after each sip. Did I mention the amazing boomerang finish? Whoever you wind up sharing this with you should expect to become lifelong friends with so choose wisely.
Worth The Price: The suggested retail price is $85-90 per Four Roses which puts it below some of this year’s other high profile releases. If you appreciate a refined and complex bourbon – one that will challenge your palette – it’s definitely worth the price.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: If you’re lucky enough to spot a bottle at your local liquor store definitely grab one for your home collection. I’d suggest grabbing extras but that would mean less for the rest of us. Even though they’re releasing 8,000 bottles this year (2x that of last year) this one’s going to go fast and finding a bottle will be a challenge. Bottles are expected to hit retail stores in late September.
*I like to let my bourbon sit in the glass for at least 5 minutes before I start to smell it or have a drink. I personally find that it’s better to let some of the alcohol waft off before diving in. If I’m drinking bourbon on the rocks I skip the waiting and dive in both feet first.
**Some of you refer to this as the “finish” but let’s be honest. Don’t we all just want to know if it burns good?
Congratulations Jim, you’ve done it again this year!
Already steeped in some pretty amazing history Four Roses continues to impress me with its dedication to quality and commitment to the bourbon community. This year’s release just adds to their amazing story and I’m thrilled to be witness to their success and growth.
I strongly encourage folks to get your hands on a glass and try it yourself. Make sure to come back though and let us know what you think.