“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.
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.