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Every autumn Four Roses releases a small number of Limited Edition Small Batch Bottles bottled at barrel strength. 2014 was no different although the “small number” is now up to 12,516 bottles. What is different is this year’s recipe which includes the following mix of four roses 10 unique bourbons: OBSK-9yr, OBSV-13yr, OESV-12yr, OBSF-11yr. Each recipe lends its own unique characteristics to the batch, some herbal, some spicy, others fruity or floral. This makes the newest mix the youngest yet of the FRLESB.
Nose: Strong and intense alcohol, but not as much vanilla or spice as I expected. Instead the nose lends itself more towards fruit, candied orange, and rye grass. I can also detect some menthol and tobacco. I enjoy the nose, but this just isn’t one I can soak in all day before taking a sip.
Taste: Without water the taste is a little overpowering for my palette but I soldier on. I prefer my bourbons around 45-50%. Still I can taste the influence of the higher rye mash with pepper, clove, and spice. The corn sticks and covers my tongue with a sweet syrup. There is some alcohol burn at the back of the throat, but a surprising blast of mint cools it back down. Wow. Adding water changes but does not improve the batch for me. The burn fades and the rye flavors and finally wood become more clear. I wish the mint would stay but every drop of water mutes it down. I sense that somewhere a balance can be achieved. This bourbon is better if you can ride the very edge of your tolerance for the spice burn.
Finish: At full proof the finish is long and spicy, but the mint helps. Overtime the afterglow is sweet with hints of orange, maple, and lingering mint. With water the finish is sweet and woody.
Balance: The balance would be spot on if it weren’t for the alcohol burn. I’ve had other four roses bourbons at the same proof that go down smoother. Maybe it is because this is the “youngest” Small Batch ever from four roses, but I think a little extra age would have made the difference.
Final Remarks: This is my first experience with the Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch. I wasn’t disappointed, but there is room for improvement. I’ve never been able to truly detect mint, and especially a mint that helps to cool the burn of barrel proof, in a bourbon until now. That alone was worth the price of admission and I have a great bourbon to carry me through to the 2015 release.