Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon
Opened: December 20, 2012
55.7% Alc/Vol (111.4 proof)
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Barrel Strength, non-chill filtered
OBSV – 17 years・OBSV – 11 years・OBSK – 12 years・OESK – 12 years
Tasting Date: January 21, 2013
Color in glencairn glass: ruddy copper.
Nose: Cinnamon watermelon, waxy clover honey, varnish, sugary flower petal, tobacco wood, a little strawberry, sugar-glazed saddle leather. The nose is light and heavy at the same time; very buttery.
Taste: The entry is sweet with a cool spearmint factor that follows into a leather-tossed fruit salad palate and a sizable, spicy finish. The wood on the finish is sweet and beautifully integrated, doling out jammy red fruit and autumn spices. Pears and strawberries meet custard and fudge as the palate develops, all belied by a foundation of deep, peppery spices and leathery tannins. A bitter element shows itself before the fruit, fades into the background while the fruits dance, then comes back in the finish for a supremely satisfying through-line of taste.
More godly liquor bestowed upon us by Mr. Rutledge and the fine people at Four Roses (FR). This is a classic bourbon profile enhanced in all directions by juicy fruit and spicy leather, and a depth that gives this whiskey a very rare gravity. I don’t usually add water to Four Roses, but adding just a few drops of water to this cask strength offering extends and brightens the fruit notes, and coaxes the supple sweetness forward just a little.
As you may know, this became a very popular whiskey when John Hansell at Whiskey Advocate started singing its praises, and soon became very hard, if not impossible to find. My interest in it was piqued when I learned that it would contain some 17 year old OBSV recipe whiskey. (FR makes 10 recipes of bourbon, which you can read about here.) Starting around November of 2011, FR bottled and sold, exclusively in their gift shop, barrels of 16 year old OBSV. By the time I visited in April of 2012, they were on barrel #9, and the bourbon had officially aged another year. That 17 year old OBSV was some of the best bourbon I’ve ever tasted, so I was clearly excited to learn it would be a component in the Limited Edition Small Batch (LESmB). As far as I know, they have exhausted the last of these aged barrels, and I can only hope that there are more in the pipeline for the future.
I am of the opinion that FR bourbons often fall into two categories: classic and exotic. The 2011 LESmB had an exotic profile that I relished, and the 2012 LE Single Barrel (1B) followed more the classic bourbon profile. The 2011 LE1B was exotic and the 2010 LESmB classic. This one is different. The 2012 LESmB brings exotic complexity to a classic bourbon profile. It demonstrates a mastery of both the distiller’s and the blender’s art. It’s easy to want to keep a good thing secret, as FR has flown under the radar for many years, but bourbon is meant to be shared. Keep an eye on what they’re doing, because nobody does it better.