This tasting features another bourbon, this time a Kentucky straight, for your consideration. Four Roses Small Batch is a product currently unavailable in Quebec, but quite popular in Europe and Japan. I was on a trip to Ontario recently and was lamenting the dearth of Scotch whiskies at the LCBO I was visiting when I decided to change strategies and look for bourbons instead. I prefer looking for items that are either unavailable in Quebec or much less costly in Ontario and was thrilled at the unique selection of bourbons at that particular LCBO. The Four Roses was a brand I had heard about but never tried for obvious reasons of availability in my home province and my decision was instantly made. Further research lead me to learn that, mysteriously, the brand was unavailable even in the US for many years, staging a comeback only recently.
A former Seagram’s distillery, this brand is now owned by a Japanese firm but has been allowed to retain and use its proprietary yeasts in the production of its many lines of whiskey. The Spanish Mission style distillery was built in 1910 and has been in continuous production ever since. It produces for other lines as well, including Bulleit.
Each bottle of the small batch may differ, this is a mingled product of four different select bourbons and I am unsure as to how these types of expressions are controlled. This is presented in a very nicely designed bottle with the roses taking on the colour of the whiskey at the very centre and featuring an alcohol content of 45% abv.
The colour is a nice shade of amber and the legs run fairly slow and thick.
The nose is high on honey and vanilla. An intense experience that leaves no doubt that this is a bourbon. I have yet to smell a Scotch that so intensely does what bourbons are able to achieve at this level. There’s some spice in there as well, cinnamon and perhaps nutmeg.
The palate oozes of honey, fruit, cinnamon and spice, and a slight hint of oak. The whole is well balanced and reasonably complex.
The finish is quite long and satisfying. The honey and spice remain, leading into the vanilla that came through on the nose.
With a bit of water, the nose becomes a showcase for the vanilla, leading into softer fruits on the palate, and continuing to advertise the vanilla on the finish. Some soft floral notes appear on the finish as well.
The whole thing is worthwhile. From a pleasant start, the senses are treated to a wonderfully married experience that is well balanced and complex enough to keep it interesting well into the second serving. Currently available at the LCBO for a song.