Bourbon Shortage: Four Roses Ends Limited Edition Single Barrel

If you’ve followed the bourbon shortage the past couple years, what you’re about to read might send you straight to the liquor store to clean out your favorite brand.

Four Roses will not be releasing its annual Limited Edition Single Barrel, the company told me, citing the great bourbon shortage. In a company statement, Four Roses officials said: “Due to inventory concerns over aged stock, and to continue to provide the highest quality products, beginning in 2015, Four Roses Distillery will be selecting and bottling their Limited Edition Single Barrel product for special commemorative bottling occasions only. We will, however, continue to produce and bottle our Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon each year in the fall.” Last year’s Four Roses Limited Single Barrel Release was only 5,000 bottles.

This also marks the latest brand to significantly alter the course of its products. Jim Beam cut the 8-year-old age statement of its Jim Beam Black Product. By dropping the age statement, Jim Beam Black is not beholden to a minimum age of 8-year-old bourbon. Other brands have dropped age statements, such as Very Old Barton, and lowered proofs (read about the Maker’s Mark proof debacle) to stretch product, while once everyday bourbons have become extremely scarce and Limited Editions commanded long lines on freezing cold days. And of course, there’s Pappy Van Winkle, which requires a pint of blood and a Congressional letter to get these days.

Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel is the latest victim to bourbon’s popularity. This non release also confirms to many naysayers that the bourbon shortage is very real.

One thing is for sure: I’ll be cherishing my Four Roses Single Barrel Limited Edition 2014 just a little bit more now. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.


Fred Minnick is the author of Bourbon Curious.

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10 Replies to “Bourbon Shortage: Four Roses Ends Limited Edition Single Barrel”

  1. Four Roses Single Barrel seems to have been winning many, many bourbon tasting competitions lately. I know they are challenged by projecting production vs. sales years in advance. However, I’d still think they’d have some for release in 2015. They are in a good position to raise the price instead of taking it out of distribution. I just got a bottle as a gift. I better drink it slowly.

  2. What a shame. As usual it will be the deep pockets with connections or the high end bourbon bars who have decent sipping whiskey. The constant shortages are annoying and tiring. There are some rather interesting scotches out there for the same price. Hmmm I think I smell peat fires a burning.

    1. David, there are plenty of decent sipping whiskeys at your local liquor store. Just because they don’t get the hype that some others do, and generally cost a lot less than those doesn’t mean they’re not worth drinking.

      The regular version of Four Roses Single Barrel and Elijah Craig 12 come immediately to mind, and that’s hardly scratching the surface. Happy hunting!

        1. Hey, whatever floats your boat, Fred! :^D Right now I’m hooked on Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, on sale this month from the PLCB at $11.99!

  3. I am the Regional Sales manager for Four Roses. I would like to state that we still have our Private Barrel Selection Barrel Proof program in place. This is the stock from which we select our Limited Edition Single Barrels. There are several stores across the country that have these single recipe Bourbons in stock.

    The problem with a Limited Edition Single Barrel for the country is having enough barrels of a single recipe of the same age that has a consistent flavor profile to make it worthwhile to ship. That is extremely difficult to do. If you have ever had the opportunity to taste Bourbon straight from the barrel you will know what I mean. Same recipe, same distillation batch, stored side by side in the warehouse will all be slightly different.

    Our last Limited Edition Single Barrel was a release of around 7000 bottles. That is a little over 1000 six bottle cases, which would average out to about 23 six bottle cases/138 bottles per state. Allocations are handled much differently of course, but I think that helps put things into perspective.

    The one thing I can assure you is that when Jim Rutledge releases any Bourbon there will be no short cut on consistency or quality for the sake of “filling the pipeline with product.”

    1. I appreciate the update Dan. While I hate to see the LE single barrel go, I’m glad the private selection program is still up and running.

      1. We will continue to release our Limited Edition Small Batch in September. Since we mingle multiple recipes it gives us much greater flexibility in what we can offer in terms of consistency and in a volume that makes it worthwhile in the market. I have always thought they were the best things we produced.

        Limited Edition Single Barrel will come back eventually, just not sure when.

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