While at Four Roses yesterday, interviewing the new CEO and distiller, I noticed a sample bottle at the round, rotating table. The tall, long-necked bottle had a simple ink jet label with the words I’ve grown to covet the past few years: “Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Barrel Strength.”
Now, there are only a handful of words in the English language that will make my mouth salivate like a rabid dog. New master distiller Brent Elliott practically had to mop up my drool before he asked: “want a taste?” I was here to learn about Elliott and how the former director of quality planned to replace the iconic Jim Rutledge. But I suddenly found myself in a primal state, where I wondered how this whiskey would taste upon my lips. Could it be the best Four Roses ever made? Is this Rutledge’s last release?
Suffice it to say, my attention quickly went to the 2015 Limited Edition Small Batch, a recipe blend of 16-year-old OBSK, 14- and 15-year-old OESK and 11-year OBSV. At the time of this writing, I do not know exactly how many barrels of each recipe went into the dump, but I know there were 100 barrels total and Elliott said it’s a “pretty even” split. Elliott said there will be 12,000 bottles at 108 proof.
The sample I tasted was 120 proof, and it was heavenly with a creamy mouthfeel and resounding notes of ginger, pumpkin spice, vanilla, toffee and a cinnamon dusted apple pie. Interestingly, despite its age range, the whiskey showed zero hint of oak. I’ll wait for the released 108 proof to offer an opinion outside of the fact I think this could go toe to toe with the 2012 and 2013 Limited Edition Small Batches that essentially won the major awards.
And on a sentimental note, this is the last limited edition batch Rutledge will have worked on as the master distiller.
I’m told it the 2015 LE Small Batch launches during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival and will be sold in the gift shop. Who’s up for standing in line with me?