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Friday, July 21, 2017

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday: Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2014

Time for some more burban. This time it's the annual Four Roses LE small batch bourbon which magically hits the secondary market before anyone has opened a bottle. Though back when this edition was released, people actually drank it. One of those people was Ryan from NJ who tossed in this sample when we did a swap. Thank you, Ryan.

Designed by the beloved former distiller Jim Rutledge, the 2014 limited edition small batch is made up of 13 year old OBSV recipe bourbon, 12 year old OESV, 11 year old OBSF and 9 year old OBSK. So it's a 9 year old, for those keeping score. It does include my two favorite Four Roses recipes, OBSV and OBSK, both high-rye.

Distillery: Four Roses
Ownership: Kirin
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Region: Lawrenceberg, Kentucky
Maturation: new white oak barrels with char #3 and #4
Age: 9 years and older
Recipe: see notes above
Bottle Count: 12,516
Release Year: 2014
Alcohol by Volume: 55.9%

The nose is much gentler than I'd expected, with no alcohol heat. Cherry bubblegum, clementines, Grand Marnier and cardamom. Some roses and Nutella too. The palate is hotter, woodier. Very spicy and tannic. Cayenne pepper and ginger powder. Sticky simple syrup in the center. A savoury note in the background. The hot finish holds bitter chocolate, wood smoke, wood tannins and wood spice. Notes of Frangelico and bananas arrive late.

Feels a bit tight. Adding a little water...

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose picks up a big charred marshmallow note. Vanilla fudge. Clementines and lumber. The palate has become bitterer and sweeter, both being wood driven. It's both slightly floral and nutty. With sweet corn and tangy citrus. The finish has new notes of caramel and vanilla. It keeps the palate's bitterness and tang. The bananas remain.

Though the nose is a pleasure, I'm a bit underwhelmed by the mouth. The harsh oak shuts everything down. It's more approachable with water, but the oak still reads like there's more 13yo than 9yo in the mix. To some that's great! To me, not so much. It's a palate thing. Past a certain point, pending age and warehouse conditions, the wood overwhelms all else.

It also seems like every time I have a limited or well-hyped barrel/batch Four Roses, it falls short of my expectations. In fact, I always prefer their regular $40 single barrel release (like this one). I'm not saying this limited edition is bad whiskey. It's good. But I'm okay with never drinking it again.

Back in the day, reviewers (such as here, here and here) said this was "good, but..." or it wasn't as great as the 2013 edition. I've never had the 2013 edition, but I did compare this one to Heaven Hill 6yo BIB. The $11 bourbon was much more fun.

Availability - Secondary Market
Pricing - $185-$225
Rating - 82