2017 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon Al Young Header

Four Roses 2017 Small Batch Limited Edition Al Young’s 50th Anniversary Bourbon Review

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“After he’s spent half a century handcrafting our product and guiding the Four Roses brand, Al’s 50th Anniversary Bourbon had to be as memorable as the man himself. He wanted to utilize an older Bourbon, if possible. We tried different quantities of the 23-year-old and the chosen 5 percent was just the right amount. It mingled with the other recipes perfectly for an incredible flavor.”Brent Elliott, Master Distiller
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Four Roses 2017 Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon


  • DISTILLER: Four Roses
  • MASH BILL: Blend of 20% 12 yr OBSF, 50% 13 yr OESV, 25% 15 yr OBSK and 5% 23 yr OBSV
  • AGE: No Age Statement but blended age of 13.8 years
  • YEAR: 2017
  • PROOF: 107.6 (53.8% ABV)
  • MSRP: $150
NOSE: Clove  |  Caramel  |  Baking Spices  |  Typical Four Roses Floral

TASTE: Oak  |  Cinnamon  |  Mint  |  Blackberry

FINISH: Long but thin with more cinnamon.  The tannins from the older components really start to come out.

SHARE WITH: Great bottle to bring to a gathering of bourbon nerds.

WORTH THE PRICE: I must say that I don’t think this is a $150 bottle.  Past Small Batch Limited Edition bottles have been closer to $100 and this doesn’t warrant a 50% increase.  My preference would be to find 2-3 good Store Picks/Private Barrels of the recipe’s I like.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This isn’t a bust, it’s a good whiskey, but I would have a glass at a bar or find a friend willing to share a sample before I hunted all over town for one.

OVERALL: I was a little disappointed with this release.  I loved the throwback design for the bottle and label.  I am a fan of Four Roses and have a reasonable (depending on who you ask) collection of their Private Barrel selections.  I was excited with the addition of the 23 year OBSV (2 of my favorite Private Barrel picks are OBSV) but this came up a little short.  The nose was quite good to excellent, the flavor just lacked depth and the finish was just a little too bitter and thin.

Learn more about Luke’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

The Bourbon exhibits aromas of sweet caramel and floral honeysuckle. The palate offers flavors of fresh peaches and apricots, encompassing a luxurious and warm fig and rich oak, finishing with a hint of mint.

The following information is from Four Roses website and is being presented to give you additional background on this limited edition release.

CELEBRATING AL YOUNG’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY WITH LIMITED EDITION FOUR ROSES BOURBON

We are so excited to celebrate Senior Brand Ambassador and Bourbon legend Al Young’s 50th Anniversary with the brand this year. We will be commemorating this milestone with Bourbon, of course – a special 2017 Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon will be released in his honor this June.Al Young has served in a variety of roles at Four Roses for the past 50 years. In 1990, he became Distillery Manager and in 2007 was named Four Roses Brand Ambassador, a role that has him crossing the country sharing the story of Four Roses and its Bourbon. He is also historian for our storied 129-year-old Kentucky Bourbon brand, having researched archives, Distillery records, news accounts, photos and artifacts to write the book Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend, published in 2010. Al was inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame in 2015 and is also a member of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.We sat down with Al, the Bourbon legend himself, to get a bit more information on the limited edition Bourbon and his 50 years with Four Roses.

This Small Batch Bourbon is made up of four of Four Roses’ 10 unique Bourbon recipes. Tell us about the recipes that you chose.
When asked by Brent for some guidelines to use for this particular Small Batch Bourbon, I said that it would be nice to use some that had been produced while I was the Distillery Manager here at Four Roses. As far as ideas for a flavor and aroma profile were concerned, we both agreed to consider a hint of cinnamon, peaches and cherries, plus aromas of gardenias and magnolia blossoms.

After numerous discussions between the two of us, a number of samples were prepared that touched on what we said we wanted plus a whole lot more. Unknown to me, Brent had really liked the one that I chose in the last round of samples. In addition, it was full of hints of vanilla bean, raspberry, fig and rich mellow oak with just a taste of spearmint. We made this happen by expertly combining some 23-year-old OBSV, 15-year-old OBSK, 13-year-old OESV and 12-year-old OBSF.

What led you to choose the 23-year-old? 
The 23-year-old OBSV was selected due to the distinctive honey, cherry and rich oak flavors that it exhibits. Having said that, samples using various percentages of it were prepared. This resulted in a well-balanced, highly flavorful bourbon finally agreed upon by the two of us.

Now let’s talk about the retro bottle shape and label that was chosen for this Bourbon.
You know, we have a large Four Roses archive collection including ads and bottles dating back to the time of National Prohibition. Luckily, it includes some from when I started with the company in 1967. The unique design of the bottle from that time was chosen as a tribute to the year my career started.

What does it mean to have a limited-edition release to commemorate your anniversary with Four Roses?
I felt humbled by the fact that the company would choose this way to commemorate my length of service. It took a lot of hard work by many people that I have worked with to make it happen and I am happy to be a part of it.

You’ve seen a lot of growth for the brand over the years. What would you say is the most significant change you’ve experienced?
One of the most significant is the brand growth that I have seen following the return of Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon into the domestic market. Working in concert with others, I have been fortunate to contribute to this transformation since before and after becoming Brand Ambassador in 2007.

What would you say has been the most rewarding part of your 50-year journey with Four Roses? What is your favorite part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my 50-year journey was being asked by the company to research, write and get published a book about the history of the Four Roses brand.  Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend was first published in 2010, it was recently revised and reprinted in a third edition in 2016.

One of my favorite parts of the job is conducting Four Roses Bourbon tastings to new people. Their responses from tasting it makes it enjoyable.

You are in charge of archiving at Four Roses Bourbon. What are some of the most memorable items you have come across?
One of the most memorable pieces in the collection is the pint bottle from 1924 currently on display in the Four Roses Visitor’s Center at the Distillery. It is full, minus some evaporation, and has the prescription from the Sparks Drug Store, Sparks, Nevada, on it. The bottle got added to the collection, as many items do, as the result of a phone call received from someone who wanted the item preserved in a good place. I am so glad that we have it as a unique part of our ever-growing collection.

What’s next? How do you plan to continue the legacy you’ve established for Four Roses in the coming years? 

Well, I haven’t given a lot of thought as to what the future holds. If anything, my legacy would probably be centered around the preservation and display of our archives. I think that we need to know about our past so that we can touch on it from time to time as a resource for today’s ideas. The selection of that bottle from 1967 illustrates this to the fullest.



2017 Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon Background Info

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (March 9, 2017) – Four Roses Bourbon’s Senior Brand Ambassador and Bourbon legend Al Young will celebrate his 50th Anniversary with the brand this year. To commemorate this milestone, Four Roses will release a special 2017 Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon in his honor this June.

Al Young has served in a variety of roles at Four Roses for the past 50 years. In 1990, he became Distillery Manager and in 2007 was named Four Roses Brand Ambassador, a role that has him crossing the country sharing the story of Four Roses and its Bourbon. He is also historian for the storied 129-year-old Kentucky Bourbon brand, having researched archives, distillery records, news accounts, photos and artifacts in order to write the coffee-table book Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend, published in 2010. Al Young was inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame in 2015 and is also a member of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

“After 50 wonderful years with Four Roses, I am honored to be recognized with my own bottling of the Bourbon that I love so dearly,” said Al Young. “It is surreal seeing how the brand has grown during my years here and I am proud to have played even a small part in its continued success.”

Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott and Al Young worked hand-in-hand to select four of Four Roses’ 10 unique Bourbon recipes to create the Small Batch Bourbon.

The recipes, each with different flavor characteristics, include 5 percent of a 23-year-old selection of Four Roses’ OBSV recipe (featuring a delicate fruitiness, with a hint of spice and creamy vanilla and caramel), 25 percent 15-year-old OBSK (full-bodied, light spice, caramel), 50 percent 13-year-old OESV (light, creamy, fruity) and 20 percent 12-year-old OBSF (herbal, full-bodied).

“After he’s spent half a century handcrafting our product and guiding the Four Roses brand, Al’s 50th Anniversary Bourbon had to be as memorable as the man himself,” said Master Distiller, Brent Elliott. “He wanted to utilize an older Bourbon, if possible. We tried different quantities of the 23-year-old and the chosen 5 percent was just the right amount. It mingled with the other recipes perfectly for an incredible flavor.”

The Bourbon exhibits aromas of sweet caramel and floral honeysuckle. The palate offers flavors of fresh peaches and apricots, encompassing a luxurious and warm fig and rich oak, finishing with a hint of mint.

“With the blend of recipes used, I believe we have created a unique Bourbon worthy of Al’s legacy,” said Elliott.

The bottle that will hold this Limited Edition Bourbon is just as storied as what’s inside. For this bottling, Four Roses has selected a retro bottle shape and label, modeled after the bottle design from 1967, the year Al Young started with the company.

Approximately 10,000 bottles of the 2017 Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon are planned for distribution. The Bourbon will launch on June 10, 2017 at Whisky Live Louisville.



About the Author

Luke Castle

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Growing up in Minnesota gives a person a great appreciation for anything that warms the body and soul. Whiskey and wine have been helping to warm Luke for many years. Jim Beam and coke morphed into whiskey waters and eventually Bourbon. Two buck chuck led to several trips to Napa Valley and a love for most varietals of wine. He is fortunate enough to have traveled most of the US through his career in financial services. A beautiful and understanding wife mostly tolerates his other hobbies including golf, hunting, and reading. 2 young kids keep them busy as well. Appreciation for the subtle differences that each decision a distiller makes keeps him coming back for more and has him excited for the future.