Four Roses recently announced the addition of Four Roses Small Batch Select as a new member of its regular product line.
Four Roses’ regular lineup features Four Roses Bourbon (formerly referred to as “yellow label,” prior to undergoing a recent labeling change), Four Roses Small Batch, and Four Roses Single Barrel.
So, how does Four Roses Small Batch Select fit in?
Simply put, it offers a higher proof (104) and different mash bill/yeast strain combination than the other Four Roses standard products. But, that explanation only makes sense for those with a working knowledge of Four Roses’ process.
And you cannot talk about Four Roses without talking about mash bills and yeast strains. Four Roses Small Batch Select is no exception. In Four Roses’ code-speak, as listed on the Small Batch Select bottle’s neck hang-tag, it contains OBSV, OESV, OBSK, OESK, OBSF, and OESF. The second and fourth letters are the ones that matter here. The “E” and “B” stand for the mash bill. Both are high-rye, relative to the rest of the bourbon market. The “B” mash is 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley. The “E” mash is 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley.
Next, the yeast strains. These are designated by the fourth letter, “V,” “K,” and “F.” These are actually three of Four Roses’ five proprietary yeast strains. Each yield a particular flavor profile. “V” is known for its fruity character. “K” brings spice. And “F” is more herbal.
Returning to the standard lineup, the 80-proof Four Roses Bourbon contains each combination of mash bill/yeast strain. Four Roses Small Batch contains both mash bills with the “O” and “K” yeasts. And Four Roses Single Barrel is the higher-rye “B” mash bill with the “V” yeast.
So, in summary, Small Batch Select features the high-rye and lower-rye mash bills paired with each of the “F,” “K,” and “V” yeast strains.
Shortly after the Small Batch Select announcement, some Four Roses fans wondered whether Small Batch Select was a light version of the 2018 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 130th Anniversary. This was likely because each contains the same yeast strains, though the 130th Anniversary does not pair them with the same mash bills and has significantly added age (10-year-old OBSV; 13-year-old OBSF; 14-year-old OESV; 16-year-old OESK).
The Four Roses Small Batch Select is also non-chill filtered and comprised of barrels aged 6 and 7 years.
Let’s see how it compares to the Four Roses Small Batch.
Four Roses Small Batch
Nose: Delicate. Cherry. Strawberry rhubarb with whipped cream. 3/5
Palate: Loads of fruit and vanilla cream and caramel. Pie crust on the raw side. Oily. 3.5/5
Finish: Some oak. Dulled flavors from the palate. Some heavily buttered toast with a dab of strawberry jelly. 3/5
Value: This retails for about $32, which is a solid price for a solid sipper like this. 3/5
Overall: There is a lot to like with Four Roses Small Batch. It does not overly impress, but would be enjoyed by novices and newcomers alike. 3/5
Four Roses Small Batch Select
Nose: A fruit punch burst burns off. Spearmint. Milk chocolate. Red apple. Nutmeg. Vanilla. 4/5
Palate: Heat up front. Apple fruit. Red pepper flakes on dried apricot. Peach cobbler. Pie crust. Chocolate. Some light spearmint follows. 3.5/5
Finish: Chocolate brownies and raspberry. Some dry oak. Some nutmeg and spearmint. 3/5
Value: This will likely end up retailing for about $55. At that price, this more than satisfies. 3.5/5
Overall: More than just satisfying, but not so much to push it into the likes of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof or Knob Creek Single Barrel store picks. 3.5/5
Watch the video review over on our YouTube channel:
Stephen is a regular writer at FlightClubICT.com