Friday, September 5, 2014

Review #10 - Four Roses 125th L.E. Small Batch Bourbon

Quick Blog Note - I've decided to add half points to my rating scale so that I have a bit more flexibility in where exactly to place bottles relative to each other. It made sense to go down that path as many whiskies fall somewhere in between.

In 2013 Four Roses celebrated their 125th anniversary by releasing this limited edition small batch bourbon. As with most of the limited releases by Four Roses, the 2013 release immediately became an impossible find and the bottles that did manage to reach the shelves were snatched up by bourbon enthusiasts... by the case. I had to wait for the European market allotment in early 2014 to get my hands on a bottle.

On the back of the bottle is a paragraph explaining the 2013 release:

"We're celebrating our 125th Anniversary with what our Master Distiller describes as 'what could be the best Bourbon we've ever put in a bottle.' This year's Barrel Strength Limited Edition Small Batch, created from 3 of our 10 distinct Bourbon recipes, welcomes you to the party with generous creamy vanilla, light oak and cherry cordial aromas. Bright splashes of raspberry and apricot greet the palate, giving way to subtle tones of nutmeg and cocoa. Then mellow flavors of cherry and vanilla bean define the long luxurious finish in such a way to make you wish you could toast our 125th every year for the next 125 or more. Cheers."

The recipes:
OBSV 18 years (featuring delicate fruit, spicy and creamy characteristics)
OBSK 13 years (rich in spiciness, full body)
OESK 13 years (spicy, full body)


Whiskey Type - Bourbon

Alcohol By Volume (ABV) - 51.6% (103.2 proof)

Bottle Number - 10104 / 12468

Big cherry notes
Rose petal
Light citrus (lemon & orange)
Red cedar wood

Dark Chocolate 
Light Mint 
Light Oak

The finish is long with an medium mouthfeel. The transition from palate to finish happens rather quickly and a nice oak flavor asserts itself throughout the long finish.

I must admit with all the buildup of this bourbon that at my first tasting I wasn't all completely blown away with the flavor profile. I guess it is one of those things where you set expectations really high based on all the raving reviews. That being said, the first thing I noticed about this bourbon right out of the gate was its amazing nose. I could sit and smell it all night. It has such a rich and beautiful aroma. Over time (many months) the bottle really began to open up and I started to truly appreciate the greatness of this bourbon. The addition of a single ice cube or a few drops of water is where Four Roses 125th really opens and flexes its muscles. I suspect that the high alcohol percentage was suppressing this bourbon. There is no doubt that the addition of water releases the flavor. The complexity in the palate along with the length of the finish and a truly amazing nose ranks this in the top tier of the bourbon world.

5 out of 5

0 - hot dog water - nothing redeeming
1 - one dimensional - not complex and can be flat in areas
2 - entry level whiskey -  a few highlights for a good value
3 - daily sipper - solid, well made product that is always enjoyed.
4 - big whiskey - complex layered flavors - amazing balance
5 - huge, exceptional, unique, one of a kind