Four Roses Small Batch Select

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I’d like to thank Four Roses for providing this sample to me with no strings attached.

By now you will all have heard that Four Roses is releasing a new addition to their core lineup. Their “fourth rose” to quote their social media feeds. This new release features six of their ten bourbons: OBSV, OESV, OBSK, OESK, OBSF, and OESF. It is non-chill filtered and bottled at 104 proof. Both Whisky Advocate and The Bourbon Review are reporting that the cost will be in the $50-60 range, slightly higher than Four Roses Single Barrel. It will initially be available in Kentucky, Georgia, Texas, New York and California with a nationwide rollout to follow.

Ok, so now that we have that out of the way, let’s address your real question. How does it taste and is this something that you should be waiting in line for or clearing shelves when you see it? Let’s get into how it tastes first.

Four Roses Small Batch Select

Purchase Info: This sample was graciously provided by Four Roses for review purposes. Reports are that this is suggested to be in the $50-60 range per 750mL bottle.

Details: A blend of six and seven year old bourbons from recipes: OBSV, OESV, OBSK, OESK, OBSF, and OESF. 52% ABV. Non-chill filtered.

Nose: Herbal mint, juicyfruit gum, caramel.

Mouth: Sweet caramel and floral notes dominate at first. After a few sips the spicy notes of cinnamon and notes of mint and juicyfruit gum begin to appear.

Finish: Warm and long with lingering mint. cinnamon and floral notes.

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Thoughts: This is a Four Roses Bourbon that caters to lovers of the herbal and floral side of their line-up. Let’s put it this way, if the standard Four Roses Single Barrel is your jam because you love the spicy, classic bourbon notes it brings to the party, then this may not be your favorite of their line-up. If, however, you’ve loved every Private Selection that features the F yeast, then this will be right in your wheelhouse.

So, onto that second part of the question above. We all know that there will be enough buzz around this release that there are going to be dickheads who try to snatch up every bottle they can lay their hands on to try to sell on the secondary market. Whether they succeed is beyond me. Here’s the thing though, while this is a very good whiskey (and even though I am the F yeast lover I mentioned above), I think I like the standard spicy Single Barrel better. I tasted this alongside both Single Barrel and Small Batch tonight. It turns out that Small Batch Select is number two on my list of their core releases. It goes Single Barrel, Small Batch Select, Small Batch and then Beige Label.

So my plan is this: if I see Small Batch Select next time I’m in Kentucky, I’m going to pick up a bottle to have on hand as a change of pace bourbon. If I don’t see it, I’ll wait until I get home and get the Single Barrel. It’ll be around eventually and I can be patient with this one. I guess what I’m saying is this. It’s very good, but let’s not lose our heads over it. They are going to be making more.


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Tommyrotter Triple Barrel American Whiskey plus an interview with Bobby Finan of Tommyrotter Distilling

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I’d like to thank Bobby Finan and Tommyrotter Distilling for providing this sample to me with no strings attached.

A few months ago, Bobby Finan of Tommyrotter Distillery in Buffalo, NY reached out to me to see if I would like to receive a sample of their products. Because I rarely say no to the opportunity to try something that I cannot get at home, I gladly accepted the offer. And because I’m a curious fellow who enjoys talking with people who are passionate about what they do, I decided to ask him some questions in return. He was gracious enough to answer them.

That’s right, I got free whiskey and then got him to write half of this post to boot.


Eric: So, Bobby, tell me a little about yourself and Tommyrotter distillery. We live in the age of superheroes on the big screen so what is the origin story of Tommyrotter?

Bobby Finan: I’m a born and raised Buffalonian and own Tommyrotter with my business partner. We’ve been at it for 4 years and are expanding our footprint throughout the Northeast and outward to other key markets in the US. I got turned onto distilling while living in NYC interning at an investment bank. I learned pretty quickly cubicle life was not for me and happened upon the distilleries that were popping up in Brooklyn. I was infatuated with them. After I completed college, I worked at a Central NY craft distillery that was moving towards opening and got to experience the start up phase of launching a distillery. I soon moved back to my hometown of Buffalo, where I met my business partner and we launched what would become Tommyrotter Distillery. In attempting to come up with a name we dove into old stories about our city - we wanted a name that alluded to “craft production,” “quality,” tied into Buffalo and was totally unique. We came across the story of the Tommyrotter’s Club, a group of rebellious artisans who worked on the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora, NY (the rural suburb that I grew up in just south of Buffalo) back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Roycroft was the birthplace of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, a kind of counterculture to the Industrial Revolution, where artists and craftspeople lived, worked and made their high end goods by hand. The Campus is still functioning today and is a pillar of the Western New York arts community. We dug the Tommyrotter name because these guys kind of bucked the rules - they we’re known for sneaking out of work to go adventure seeking, create for creation’s sake and maybe enjoy a couple drinks while doing it.

Eric: After looking at your website, I know that you produce a couple of whiskies and you sent over a sample of a gin, What else do you produce? And what would you consider your “specialty?”

Bobby: We distill a vodka, one type of gin (and barrel it for a second product) and we blend and finish whiskeys Our specialty is definitely gin, our American Gin is our top selling product and our Cask Strength Bourbon-Barrel Gin gets a lot of press, awards and cocktail menu placement due to how unique and delicious it is. The American Gin has developed a really loyal following due to the botanicals we use. We infuse 12 botanicals through vapor distillation and utilize a lot of baking spice (think nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon) and balance it out with citrus and juniper. In Buffalo, NY, our hometown, we’ve got Hendricks on the ropes in most local liquor stores and have a lot of people who say, “Tommyrotter is the only gin I’ll drink.” The Cask Strength Bourbon-Barrel Gin is the exact same gin as our American Gin, just thrown into a brand new white American oaks #3 char barrel for about a year and bottled at 122 Proof. It’s a one-of-a-kind spirit, a real category bender and is one of the most complex spirits on the market in my opinion (but the critics say so too!).

Eric: Tonight I’ll be reviewing the Tommyrotter American Whiskey. You labeled it “Triple Barrel.” Tell us the story behind that. What is a Triple Barrel American Whiskey at Tommyrotter?

Bobby: “Triple Barrel” really has two meanings or two points of significance as they pertain to the product and name. Our American Whiskey is a blend of two mash bills of bourbon and a Tennessee whiskey - three types of whiskey or three barrels. That blend is then finished in French oak that previously housed red wine (we’re typically utilizing ex-Cab Sauv and ex-Cab Franc barrels). As you might assume, the two bourbons are aged in brand new white American charred oak. The Tennessee is aged in recharred next use American oak barrels that previously housed bourbon. In total, the whiskey we blend, finish and bottle is product of three types of barrel treatment…and so we again arrive at “Triple Barrel.” On a geekier note: One of the bourbon is a high corn mash bill and when we started rolling out whiskey was a little north of 1 year old, that input is now regularly 2+ years old, the second bourbon is 5-6 year old high wheat mash bill, the Tennessee is 7 years old and also has a pretty high corn level in the MB. The weighted average of the mash bills by function of blend ratio balances out at 81% Corn / 9% Wheat / 5% Rye / 6% Barley.

Eric: I notice that the sample you sent me says that it was distilled in Tennessee and Indiana. I have a good guess as to what those distilleries might be, but can you confirm?

Bobby: One of the distilleries doesn’t like us mentioning their name, the other doesn’t care. For the sake of enjoying a good wink and nod opportunity, I’d say if you made a quarter-way educated guess, you’d likely be right.

Eric: As a follow-up, since this is a barrel-finished whiskey, you obviously have access to barrels. Are you buying fully matured whiskey from your suppliers or do you buy new-make and age in in-house?

Bobby: The answer to that “or” question is: Yes. Building a whiskey program takes a lot of planning. You’re buying older/matured whiskey to finish and package now. You’re buying slightly less old whiskey to bottle next year and so on and so on. Simultaneously, you’re buying new-fill whiskey and aging in house or in contracted bonded-warehouses due to scale to be of age when you hit the bottom of your less aged product that is coming to age every year. I was trying to description the shape of the curve you follow on purchasing, but it’s really a three dimensional curve and the variable where getting overly wordy to explain. In summation, there is a decent amount of algebra based on projections and an understanding that you may be offloading excess or scrambling for supplementary barrels until you really dial in demand and growth.

Eric: Are there plans to transition your whiskey to ones made from your own distillate in the future? If so, how far along that process are you? Can you give us any hints about what to keep an eye out for?

Bobby: We’d like to build a new facility and actively moving in that direction - may be two years out or so - but at the new facility we’d have full whiskey production capability and eventually moving towards our own juice. It takes a long time to fully make that transition.

Eric: Finally, where can an interested reader learn more about Tommyrotter and your products?

Bobby: Give us a follow on Instagram or Facebook - we come out with a limited release whiskey product each fall and are making a concerted effort to expand our single barrel program for our Cask Strength Bourbon-Barrel Gin beyond upstate NY. The single barrels of our CSBBG are awesome. Just really, really awesome.

Eric: Thanks for answering a few questions for me. I, and the readers, appreciate it.

Tommyrotter Triple Barrel American Whiskey

Purchase Info: This sample was graciously provided for review purposes by the distillery. This product can be found for $35 for a 750 mL bottle.

Details: 46% ABV. Age stated at 1 year old.

Nose: Sweet with buttered popcorn, spearmint and caramel.

Mouth: Cornpops cereal, cinnamon and black pepper

Finish: On the shorter side of medium. Lingering spearmint.

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Thoughts: This is a very grain forward whiskey but I wouldn’t necessarily say it tastes “young” as there are no rough edges at all. I tasted this neat and it reminds me of a good quality corn whiskey. I also made a small old fashioned with it and it performed well. I liked how the sweetness of the whiskey played with the spice of the aromatic bitters I chose. Overall, I’d recommend this to people who like sweet, grain forward whiskies.


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Cooper's Craft Bourbon and Coopers' Craft Barrel Reserve Bourbon

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I’d like to thank Punch Media and Brown-Forman 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.

Way back in 2016, Brown-Forman released themselves a new bourbon brand. They called it Coopers’ Craft. It might seem to be a bit of an odd name, until you remember that Brown-Forman is the only major American Whiskey producer that also owns it’s own cooperage. I’d tell you that a cooperage is the place where barrels are made, but I’m sure you already knew that. I’m guessing that you also know that the men and women who make the barrels are called coopers too. So I’m not going to bother telling you that either.

So they named the bourbon Cooper’s Craft as a way to honor the people making their barrels. I thought it was a nice gesture and gladly accepted a sample of that initial release to review on the site. I liked it, but I was hoping for a bit more punch for the initial $29 price tag. It was more than a bit too gentle for my tastes. I’m guessing that comes, at least in part, from the “beech and birch charcoal filter finishing process” that the aged bourbon is put through.

For that reason, I was happy to see that the newest release in the Cooper’s Craft lineup, Cooper’s Craft Barrel Reserve, was being bottled at a respectable 100° proof. I was even happier to see that even though the juice starts out the same, the company was trying something different with the barrels that whiskey was being aged in. It makes sense that a bourbon honoring barrel-makers would play with the barrel a little bit. In the press release they say: “Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve is aged in a unique chiseled and charred American White Oak barrel that allows the whiskey to interact more deeply with the wood, creating a robust and more complex flavor profile.” That sounds like just what I was looking for: more proof and a more complex flavor.

And in more good news, the original Coopers’ Craft has come down in price since that initial release. It isn’t sold in my market so I hadn’t been keeping track of the price. The SRP is now around $22-24 for a 750 mL bottle. And that totally changes my feelings about the brand. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s remind ourselves how that original Cooper’s Craft tastes, shall we?

Coopers’ Craft Bourbon

Purchase info: This sample was graciously provided by the company for review purposes. The suggested retail price is between $21.99 and $23.99.

Details: 41.1% ABV. Uses a “beech and birch charcoal filter finishing process” according to the press release.

Nose: Wintergreen, almond, and vanilla pudding.

Mouth: A bit of a thin mouthfeel. The taste follows the nose with vanilla pudding, wintergreen, almond and a gentle baking spice.

Finish: Gentle with vanilla pudding, baking spice and hints of apple.

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Thoughts: The marketing materials for Coopers’ Craft use the headline “Building a Gentler Bourbon" and they aren’t lying. This is a super gentle bourbon. I think the combination of price and flavor profile make this a great bourbon for someone just starting their bourbon journey. It has good flavor, but not so much heat that they start choking and sputtering because they aren’t used to the proof. That said, I like a bit more heat so while there is nothing wrong with this bourbon, it isn’t for me.

Coopers’ Craft Barrel Reserve Bourbon

Purchase info: This sample was graciously provided by the company for review purposes. The suggested retail price is between $29.99 and $32.99.

Details: 50% ABV. Uses a “chiseled and charred American White Oak barrel” according to the press release.

Nose: Oak, caramel, ginger and vanilla.

Mouth: Cinnamon candy, oak, ginger, caramel and vanilla.

Finish: Warm and of medium length. Lingering ginger, caramel and oak.

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Thoughts: This is a damn fine bourbon. I like this one a lot. While the original may be better suited to the new bourbon drinker, this is much more aligned to my palate when consumed neat. It is spicy without being too hot and has a nice underlying sweetness to support the spice. Basically what I’m saying is that they next time I travel to Kentucky, a couple bottles of this will be coming home in my bags.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. And if you are an iOS user, look for Bourbon Guy in Apple News. Thanks!