On September 15th, Four Roses Bourbon will release its coveted annual Limited Edition Small Batch. In its sixteenth year, this special bottling also commemorates the Lawrenceburg, KY, distillery’s 135th Anniversary. MSRP on the ’23 LESB is $199. Outside of distillery offerings, I’m betting precious few of those 15,060 bottles will sell for that cost.
This bourbon is a biggin’, a powerful and complex pour created from a commingling of 12-, 14-, 16- and 25-year-old barrels. Though the final proof is 108, it drinks higher than that.
In crafting this blend, I wanted to create an elegant bourbon worthy of the brand’s heritage.
Master distiller Brent Elliott said on a press Zoom call that the blend came from 186 barrels and that about 35 test blends were required to make the final result.
“I’m excited to hear what our devoted consumers have to say about it,” Elliott said in a press release. “In crafting this blend, I wanted to create an elegant bourbon worthy of the brand’s heritage.”
For the Four Roses recipe nerds reading this, here’s the recipe breakdown of the final blend.
- An OESK 12-year-old accounts for 35 percent
- An OESV 14-year-old accounts for 40 percent
- An OESV 16-year-old accounts for 20 percent
- And an OBSV 25-year-old accounts for 5 percent
That’s not a typo: there is 25-year-old bourbon in that mix. And we got to taste it and the other three blend components independently.
What does 25-year-old Four Roses OBSV taste like? Woody, but more sawn-lumber-woody than an over-oaked tannin bomb. Would I like to drink it on its own? Not really. But as Elliott said, that wasn’t its role in the LESB. Its job was adding complexity and depth and rounding out the whole.
“Once the ideal balance of (three initial batches) was achieved, I looked at several other batches of various ages and recipes to add an extra layer of nuance to the blend,” Elliott said in the release. “Ultimately I selected the 25-year-old OBSV, which melds perfectly with the other batches and adds additional complexity and depth.”
Given that our Zoom tasting included five barrel-strength whiskeys, it’s not fair to do a full review just yet. I’ll say this: It’s quite different from past LESBs Elliott began creating in 2016. It’s a lot on the palate, so I’ll revisit it later.
Frankly, comparing any LESB with another is an appraisal of gold-standard pours. None is ever bad, they’re always amazing.
In the meantime, go love up on your favorite liquor retailer in hopes that you’ll get one of these. Or register at the LESB webpage for the distillery-only lottery from August 22 to August 28 by visiting the Four Roses website. Since a random drawing will decide who is selected to pick up their purchase at the Four Roses Distillery, your chances are as good as anyone’s.