2015 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch

The Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch is Four Rose’s very limited Fall release, and since Four Roses cut their Limited Edition Single Barrel, this is now the most desired, and highly sought after offering from Four Roses.  As the name implies, the 2015 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch is similar to FR’s standard Small Batch bottling, in that it’s a small number of barrels that are picked, blended together and bottled at 90 proof.  A very simple and straightforward bourbon.  In the case of FR’s Limited Edition Small Batch, the same execution is applied, except this time it is the Master Distiller who is hand selecting this small batching of barrels.  Between 3-4 barrels are hand selected, blended and bottled at cask strength and released in very limited quantity – the 2015 FR Limited Edition Small Batch comes in at 54.3% abv./ 108.6 proof, is non chill filtered and consists of 12,672 bottles total.  This may not come across as a small number of bottles but considering the demand for these domestically alone – during one of, if not the largest bourbon boom in the history – not to mention the global demand for bourbon…lets just say that 12,672 is a mere drop in the bucket.  Now 12,671.

This year’s FR Limited Edition Small Batch is a batching of 3 recipes consisting of 4 different ages: OBSK 16 years, OESK 15 years, OESK 14 years and OBSV 11 years.  For more info on those specific recipes, read this article in which Blake over at Bourbonr breaks down the FR recipe letters on what they actually stand for.  Basically the reason for FR using using these different letter combinations to create 10 unique recipes is to show how different each recipe is in terms of overall profile, giving each recipe its own distinct characteristics.  FR has the most diverse and complex recipe/mash bill portfolio of any major U.S. distillery, and the quality of their bourbon is held with the most high regard, not to mention their limited releases which have achieved nothing short of legendary acclaim.

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2015 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch

ABV: 54.3% // 108.6 proof

Ages/Recipes: OBSK 16 years, OESK 15 years, OESK 14 years and OBSV 11 years

Mash Bills: 60/35/5 & 75/20/5

Bottle #56/12672

Color: Dark Honeyed Copper

Nose:  The nose enters with a perfect balance of crystal clear rye and oak spices followed by red cherry and dark chocolate.  From the spice the nose turns bounces back and forth between confectionary and fruit sweetness.  Toffee drizzled cinnamon rolls, freshly baked come to mind with a dollop of orange icing.  Crushed nuts, candied apple and some pear.  Christmas spices come to life with banana salt water taffy, maybe some banana bread too, more red cherries and strawberries, sweet brown cereal notes, like honeyed bran breakfast cereal.  Grape juice, sugar cookie and vanilla graham cracker finish things off with a memory of cane sugar crystals and hints of peanut butter.

Palate: Gorgeous spice bomb from the start, like a nuclear explosion in silent slow motion…but from a distance.  Astounding.  The moment this dram hits your tongue, the black cracked pepper and rye spices erupt.  Fall out clouds of firm menthol and cocoa dust starts to fill your palate halfway through – no dryness however…interesting.  Quick confectionary sugars, more toasted oak from the nose and some sweet cherry shows up.  You can tell this FR expression has some batches with age – sweet woody spices now, cinnamon spice and cinnamon sugar.  Toffee and more pure can sugary goodness, all in check.  Quite exquisite.

Finish: This is a slow fader and has a long finish, which at cask strength should be expected.  Toffee from the back palate lingers with brown sugars.  The rise of spice is perfectly mirrored in dissipation on the finish, a long fading out and a clear reminder of what you just experienced – like a bell curve.  Black licorice, charred barrel and an older sense of rye is the best way to describe these final notes.  Some menthol, light oak tannins play off this overall toasty finish.

Bourbon and House Rating: 97

Bottom line, if you see this bourbon on the shelf at or near MSRP ($89.99 – $99.99) then grab it. In my opinion this bottle is even worth double that, especially considering how incredible this year’s release is, not to mention how constantly solid this release is year after year as opposed to how many joke releases the industry is pushing out now days marketed as “limited release(s)” in the range of $100 – $200+.  However what this bottle “is worth” will be completely up to you.  I wouldn’t spend much above $200 for this bottle but be prepared to see this bottle go for $500+.  Whats nice about the FR Limited Edition Small Batch, is that it’s one of the few remaining limited releases that will still separate a Pappy flipping bandwagoneer from the humble bourbon imbiber who can still remember what it was actually like to walk into a K&L or Bevmo and just grab a bottle of William Larue Weller or Pappy Van Winkle off the shelf.  In other words, this bourbon separates the (fan)boys from the men and you technically are more likely to find it compared to the aforementioned bourbons.  If you see a bottle of FR Limited Edition Small Batch, from any year, behind someone’s home (or professional) bar, they probably know bourbon.

And this bourbon has it all – at cask strength it offers a depth and complexity that few releases will yield.  It has age and  recipe diversity, few bourbons will boast.  I’m sure Jim Rutledge is more than proud going out with this last notch under his belt as the 2015 FR Limited Edition Small Batch is a testament to not only a Master Distiller’s blending capacity but it is also one of the most tangible examples of absolute American ingenuity – a true and honest example of what outstanding bourbon can be.

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