It’s hard to make money writing about whiskey but there are other benefits. I get lots of free samples for one. What’s more, I get lots of very good free samples, like advance tastes of limited releases.
While they are all great and I hope they never stop coming, some excite me more than others. Only a few invariably get tasted right away.
At the top of that list is Four Roses.
When a box arrives from Bandy Carroll Hellige (Four Roses’ ad agency) I can’t wait to get it open. Today it contained a tiny (100 ml) bottle of the 2010 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition, which is scheduled for a September release of 3,600 bottles.
Four Roses, you see, has a unique advantage over other distilleries when it comes to limited editions. It is the only distillery that makes ten different bourbon recipes and because it makes them year in and year out, its warehouses contain all ten whiskeys at every possible age from newborn to double-digits.
The possibilities are endless.
In the USA, Four Roses has three platforms: (1) standard, a mixture of all 10 recipes; (2) small batch, a mixture of two to four recipes; and (3) single barrel, by definition a single recipe.
Each spring Four Roses issues a limited edition from the single barrel platform and each fall it issues one from the small batch platform.
Finally, for full geeky pleasure, the ten recipes have names, sort of, a sequence of four letters. To find out what it all means go here.
This fall’s small batch will be a mixture of three bourbons, a 15-year-old OBSV, an 11-year-old OBSK, and a 10-year-old OESK. It’s bottled uncut and unfiltered, so 110° proof (55% alcohol).
The nose is about what you would expect with tobacco-ey wood notes. I was surprised, therefore, that the taste starts out fresh and fruity, with citrus, raspberry, honey, and oak. Then came the dark caramel and molasses, syrupy and just slightly bitter. The finish, also slightly bitter, is very rich and long.
Every mixture of bourbons from the Four Roses vaults is interesting, but this is one of the more successful purely for drinking. To the extent they use these limited editions to test candidates for future regular-issue products, this would be a good one to consider.