“I really want to push the envelope with this brand...Collaborating with Kelvin Cooperage makes that happen. Every batch we release will be a unique combination of whiskey and finish barrels. We really want to explore everything Kelvin can do with this company.”
FOUR GATE BOURBON BATCH 1, THE KELVIN COLLABORATION
- DISTILLER: Blended and finished by Four Gate Whiskey Company. Original distiller is undisclosed.
- MASH BILL: 74% Corn | 18% Rye | 8% Malted Barley
- FINISH BARRELS: Ex-sherry rum barrels selected by Kelvin Cooperage
- AGE: 11 Years
- YEAR: 2019 (Distilled in 2007)
- PROOF: 123.4 Proof (61.7% ABV)
- MSRP: $199.00
- AVAILABILITY: April 2019, Kentucky and Tennessee Only
NOSE: Sherry & Spiced Rum Forward | Golden Raisins | Cooked Plums | Cocoa
TASTE: Sherry Syrup | Oak Tannins | Vanilla | Black Pepper
FINISH: Medium to long with aggressive oak tannins that interrupts the sweetness of the Sherry syrup and vanilla. The result is a lingering tug-of-war finish between sweet and bitter that evolves into a whisper of spiced rum. I wasn't a fan of adding water as it dulled the sweeter notes and created a more pronounced arrival of the barrel tannins.
SHARE WITH: Those interested in finished bourbons and unique blends are the prime audience for this release as long as they have the palate to appreciate all that's going on. Purists should pass along and leave this one for those that will enjoy it for all that it is.
WORTH THE PRICE: I feel like this is a trick question. It's difficult to justify $199 for just about any new release bourbon. This is clearly in a price range for those that value the experience more than the relative market value of other similar whiskies.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Technically I rate this as one should try at a bar before buying, but due to it's limited availability, those with the interest and financial means should grab a bottle before it's gone.
OVERALL: First thing - I really love the nose on this whiskey. It's full of sherry, golden raisins, and cooked plums - delicious. If I had to make a purchase decision on the nose alone, I would buy this all day long. The sherry-rum cask finish is a lovely partner for the high-rye bourbon that Four Gate Whiskey Company used for this expression.
The first sip offered up the expected Sherry notes mixed with a heavy dose of simple syrup (which was lovely), but the arrival of some pretty stout barrel tannins caught me off guard. At 11 years old, the tannins were far more aggressive than I expected. I've never been a fan of tannic or oak forward whiskeys, but even after accounting for that fact, I still feel that the tannins almost pushed this one out of balance. Luckily spiced rum kicked in at the end of the finish preventing this one from ending on a bitter only note.
In full disclosure, this review was tough. The first two times I tried it I found the tannins to be too much and I was ready to call it out of balance. On my third taste (3 days after opening) the whiskey finally seemed to open up a bit, and things got better - and more interesting. Make sure you let your bottle open up a bit before pouring your taste.
In closing, I applaud Four Gate Whiskey Company on their first release and look forward to what comes next. Their willingness to push the envelope by blending and finishing is exciting. I remain as optimistic as ever that independent blenders are vital to the future of American whiskey and I look forward to the journey.
Learn more about Pop's whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…
Four Gate Whiskey Company Bourbon Batch 1, The Kelvin Collaboration Background Info
LOUISVILLE, KY, April 8, 2019 – This April, Four Gate Whiskey Company will launch its very first variety of Kentucky Bourbon.
Expecting to release 2-3 batches per year, Four Gate Whiskey will unveil its first small batch product: a special eleven-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon finished in sherry-rum casks, bottled at 123.4 proof.
Created by two Louisville natives and whiskey enthusiasts, Bill Straub and Bob D’Antoni have collaborated with the barrel experts at Kelvin Cooperage to create an exciting and unique bourbon brand, setting themselves apart from the ever-growing small batch bourbon companies across the country. They also partnered with well-regarded whiskey writers and personalities in Louisville to help select the exclusive blend to be finished in the ex-sherry rum casks.
As the first ever release, the team chose 14 barrels of eleven-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, chosen because of the cinnamon and vanilla notes. The barrels yielded three distinct blends, so the team enlisted the aid of three local whiskey enthusiasts to help choose the final blend to dump into the secondary barrels. Brian Haara, author of Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America, along with Owen Powell and Craig Rupprecht of Louisville Bourbon Hounds met with the Four Gate Whiskey Team and William Hornaday of Kelvin Cooperage.
After selecting the blend, Hornaday selected special casks from the Kelvin Cooperage warehouse to finish the whiskey. These casks were originally sherry barrels from Spain, and then were used to age a batch of rum in the Caribbean. The unique history of these barrels yields maple syrup and dark fruit notes that pair excellently with the spicy whiskey.
“I really want to push the envelope with this brand,” said Straub. “Collaborating with Kelvin Cooperage makes that happen. Every batch we release will be a unique combination of whiskey and finish barrels. We really want to explore everything Kelvin can do with this company.”
“Having Kelvin involved is huge for us,” said D’Antoni. “No one knows more about how a barrel ultimately impacts a spirit than the people who have been making those barrels for all kinds of spirits for half a century. Their access to existing barrels and their ability to craft totally unique casks is really something we want to display.”
Tasting Notes from the Chief Blending Officer:
Nose: The finish barrels are front and center with a huge waft of maple syrup. Behind that, there is a spicy cinnamon, some vanilla and caramel, with a sweet red fruit undertone.
Taste: Oloroso Sherry hits the front palate with a burst of sweet fortified wine and simple syrup. The mid palate gets traditional high-rye bourbon notes of vanilla, black pepper, and oak, while the rear palate gets a molasses and brown sugar sweetness from the rum finish.
Finish: Medium-to-long, there are prevalent barrel tannins and rye spices that linger on the tongue while a boozy rum finish coats the inside of the mouth.
Straub and D’Antoni run the company as the Chief Blending Officer and Chief Barrel Officer, respectively. With their roots in Louisville, Straub has leveraged his knowledge of bourbon and the industry as founder and Editor-In-Chief of ModernThirst.com since 2014. As a successful local entrepreneur, D’Antoni has used his connections to establish relationships to get his hands on some terrific bourbon.
A local collaboration like this feeds into the Four Gate Whiskey Company philosophy: if you start with the best whiskey, and leverage some of the best-regarded experts in the field on the effects of barrels, you wind up with an amazing whiskey that both connoisseurs and collectors alike will appreciate.
Four Gate Whiskey Company’s first release will be distributed in Kentucky and Tennessee at a retail price of $199.00 per bottle. With a small batch product comes a limited release, and 1732 total bottles will be available at retail.
Disclaimer:Four Gate Whiskey Company provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.
Patrick Garrett, "Pops" as he's known to his friends, is the founder of Bourbon & Banter, LLC and claims the title of Chief Drinking Officer (CDO). A long-time marketing professional and photographer, Pops hopes to use his professional experience and love of Bourbon to spread the Bourbon Gospel and help everyone realize the therapeutic power of having a good drink with friends. Read Patrick's full profile.
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Come on guys…your latest review is for a $199 bottle. You know how many bourbon drinkers I know personally that might spend $200 on a bottle for their collection? ZERO…that’s how many.And I believe that the price of bourbon is what it is…is because of you and your kind. Blowing up reviews and making every new big buck bottle sound as if it were the next coming. My compairison might be auto reviews. They drive $200,000 cars that they’ll never own and rave about them, saying what a great value they are. To me…you and they are same-same. So give us everyday guys a break. Spend more time on great value instead of great hype. Perhaps the bourbon market will come back to earth and we will all be able to taste some of these high flyers.
Bruce, did you even read the review all the way through? And have you read our other reviews of different brands, price points, etc? If you don’t like how expensive a whiskey is, the solution is simple – don’t buy it. Don’t take it out on folks like us because we reviewed it and were honest. And if that doesn’t settle you down, you can always take the advice of Sergeant Hulka and “Lighten up, Francis!”
Bruce, if you knew these guys, you’d know they drink everyday stuff like you. But everyday stuff is everyday stuff because it doesn’t change. To use your auto review analogy, would you read a magazine that reviewed Chevy Impalas and Toyota Corollas every time? Everyday cars rarely change, so even auto magazines don’t review all everyday models. They only do so when significant updates are released.
Part of what we do for B&B is write about what’s new. And what’s new is often what winds up being sent to us from distilleries. Writing about new releases from new companies is part of the job of keeping drinkers informed about what’s happening. Just as no automobile reviewer owns a $200,000 Porsche–he or she is loaned it for a period in order to drive it, become informed and review it–we’re not running out buying $199 bottles of whiskey every day. Just doesn’t happen. But if someone offers us a sample for review, there’s a good chance one of us will write about it. That’s living up to the B&B motto of “drink curious.” When you remove your personal cost biases, you’ll see it simply as news for spirits drinkers.
I’m like you, a guy not in the $199 per bottle buying group. But lucky me, I get to enjoy samples of such stuff and write about it. We’re just the messengers, my man, so don’t shoot us. Shoot the guys who priced those products out of your personal range.
It’s not bourbon. The founders even call it an American Whiskey on their website. It’s actually class type 641 – whiskey specialties. Do some research instead of reguirtating press releases – that is assuming you know anything about bourbon to begin with. And $199 is just stupid. Plenty of great bourbon out there at fraction of this tater price.
[…] are others saying? The first to provide a review was Bourbon & Banter: “First thing – I really love the nose on this whiskey. It’s full of sherry, golden raisins, […]
I’ve been debating the merits of marked up sourced bourbon at twice the price for a while now. It goes against my inclination to buy 10 year old Turkey or Heaven Hill or whomever, from a third party who bottles and re-labels it with a spiffy new name. And at 199.00? That’s crazy. But perhaps the argument is “we’re blending sourced products but creating something unique”. I know that non single malt scotch is all about the blending, I get it. So I’m reluctant to totally slam blender startups like this. And yes, Kentucky Owl is selling out all the time at ridiculous prices for essentially a blend of sourced whiskies. Apparently, there must be a consumer market for it or we wouldn’t be seeing this keep happening. Eventually I think the market will reach a saturation point with all of these and we will see the herd get thinned out. As for me, I’m supporting distilleries that actually distill their own product! I was chasing exotics for a bit, but now I’m all about finding in stock everyday drinker bottles. Like Makers 46 or Russells Reserve.
I do have a lot of bourbons in my home 23,20,15 and 12 yrs old Pappy Van winkle bourbon. I do have 7 bottle of George T Stagg at 143 proof sign by master distiller Elmer T Lee which pass on (dead) and 6 George T Stagg jr. I did not pay more then $215.00 and that my 23 yrs Pappy Van winkle, so this bourbon that you are selling better taste just a great as my Pappy Van winkle do you think.
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Does anyone actually know where it was sourced for the 14 barrels? MGP? Dickel?