I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Four Roses for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.
As I write this, I am sitting in a car somewhere between Bloomington and Champaign Illinois while my wife drives us to Lousiville. Rural Illinois is pretty dull. Aside from the occasional lousy roadside poem highlighting a fear of "thugs" and a warning about how only a gun can keep you safe from them, there isn't much to keep your interest. We are tormenting ourselves with a drive across Illinois and Indiana because we are in the early hours of our annual trip to Kentucky to visit friends and attend the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, KY.
One of the annual highlights of my September visit to Kentucky is that I can generally get my hands on a bottle of the Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch, which is released during the Festival. And while these releases are always good, some of them are a little better than others. And since I usually only review them well past the time any reader has any hope of getting a bottle for themselves, these reviews were less a useful resource and more a humble brag about being able to get one.
This year, however, Four Roses was kind enough to offer me a review sample ahead of the product's release so that I could share my thoughts in a much more timely manner. I graciously accepted. Both because it would be more useful for you, the reader and because this way I will also know how hard to work at getting a full bottle for myself.
So what are the details on this year's release? It will be released at both the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, and the Cox's Creek Warehouse & Bottling Facility on September 15th, 2018 at 9 am (Eastern). Limited distribution will roll out to the rest of the country in the weeks following. The suggested retail price will be $140 (which makes me cry a little inside when I realize I paid only $80 for my 2009 Mariage). The bourbon is made up of a 10-year-old OBSV, a 13-year-old OBSF, a 14-year-old OESV, and 16-year-old OESK. My sample says it is bottled at 54.2% ABV though the press release claims 108.3° proof so the final bottling will be somewhere around there, I guess. But less important than what it is, is how it tastes.
Four Roses 2018 Limited Edition Small Batch, 130 Anniversary Edition
Purchase Info: This sample was graciously provided by Four Roses. The suggested retail price is $140 for a 750 mL bottle.
Details: A blend of 10-year-old OBSV, a 13-year-old OBSF, a 14-year-old OESV, and 16-year-old OESK. 54.2% ABV.
Nose: Caramel, nutmeg, cherry/almond.
Mouth: Very warm and spicy. Caramel, baking spices, cherry, and ripe peaches.
Finish: Long, hot, and spicy. Lingering fruits, oak, and vanilla.
Thoughts: Ok, yes. This is very good. But, no. This is not my favorite of the Limited Small Batch Releases. It's not even my favorite of recent releases. That honor still goes to last year's 2017 edition due to its comparatively easy drinking floral fruitiness.
2018's release is a different beast entirely (most likely by design as I know they try to vary it from year to year to exercise and showcase their creativity). Unlike 2017's release, this is a hot and spicy beast of a dram. It is hot. The caramel is at the forefront, and the spice will bite you if you aren't prepared for it. The fruit is still there, but this year it plays more in the ripe, juicy peaches and cherry range. This is not a "mellow" bourbon.
But it is a very good bourbon, and a lot of people will love this. Personally, I like it, but am not in love with it. Of course, that won't stop me from trying to get my hands on a bottle again this year.
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