One of seven
Four Roses is an American whiskey distillery that is located in the town of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The state of Kentucky is the famous home of the American whiskey industry with seven distilleries currently operating. The other six include some famous names and are Bernheim, Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. These produce numerous brands of whiskey and bourbon.
Four Roses is currently owned by the Kirin Brewery Company from Japan and is one of Kentucky's largest distilleries, producing almost eight million litres of whiskey a year. Much of this is released under the Four Roses name, although as with many of the American distilleries they also release whiskies and bourbons under different names. These all use different traditional recipes during production and are derived from closed distilleries. The most well known example made at Four Roses is Bulleit bourbon. For further information on American whiskies and bourbons, then check out the American page on our website - whiskyforeveryone.com.
Details of the whiskey
This Small Batch forms part of Four Roses' core range which also include the best selling Yellow Label and a Single Barrel release. As the name suggest, this whiskey is released in small quantities and each batch is rumoured to consist of just four casks that are married together. The whiskey included is aged for between six and eight years and contains some of the highest rye grain content of any bourbon (about 40%). Small Batch is bottled at an alcoholic strength of 45% ABV and should cost £25-30 a bottle from selected specialist liquor retailers.
Our tasting notes
The colour of this Small Batch is a deep golden amber and the nose is expressive and fragrant. There are prominent aromas of vanilla, coconut, slightly bitter cereal grains (imagine something like a rye bread) and oranges (think of candied peel or marmalade), with some more subtle wood spices (imagine cinnamon and nutmeg) and nuts (especially almonds) present in the background. On the palate, these characteristics are milder and softer than the nose suggests. The vanilla, cereal grains and the almond-like nuttiness lend the palate a creamy, mouth coating feeling and these are backed by a lovely combination of coconut, honey, cinnamon and nutmeg spice and bitter oranges. The finish is again soft with some initial sweetness before turning drier and spicier (that cinnamon again), with some distinct bitter cereal grains (think of the husks) and toasted almond notes at the forefront. The addition of water brings out more honey and some previously undetected toffee, while taking the edge off the woody spice notes.
What's the verdict?
Small batches of American whiskies are relatively hard to find and we have not tasted many. This makes it difficult to compare this whiskey with anything. All we can say is that this is a very good and highly enjoyable drink and that others that we will try in the future have a lot to live up to! Four Roses Small Batch offers a lovely, expressive and balanced dram that also represents great value for money (try getting a small batch Scottish release for a similar age, by comparison).