November 30, 2013

War of the Roses Part Five: Review Four Roses 125th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch 2013

This is part five, the final review of our War of the Roses Holiday Marathon.  If you're just tuning in, rewind to the beginning and start there...

125th Anniversary

And now the one you've been waiting for...

The hype around this bottle has been truly over the top.  Let's put it this way, we read the press release that it was going to hit shelves in a few weeks and began to canvass some local NYC liquor stores.  We got laughs and guffaws right out of the Van Winkle playbook.  That was somewhat unexpected.  Basically every liquor store in NY & NJ was trying to get their hands on this stuff and most were not succeeding.  Our search expanded and eventually we tracked some down in Connecticut.   It was a happy day.

Well, you've been with us all week.  We've covered the long history of Four Roses, the individual development of ten distinct recipes, tasted several of those recipes in their Limited Edition Single Barrels, introduced you to the phenomenon that is big Jim Rutledge, and tasted last year's highly acclaimed LE Small Batch.  It all comes down to this.  So let's get to it!

What Do We Know About This Bottle?

It's bottled at 51.6%, on the lower end of all the Four Roses so far.

It's a blend of three Four Roses batches (2012 was a blend of 4):
An OBSV 18-year (perhaps the same batch that was 17 years old in last years Small Batch??)
An OBSK 13-year (again one year older of one of the same batch from last years.  coincidence?)
An OESK 13-year (ok once again the same choice but one year older)

So at this point it can't be a coincidence.  The only thing that's missing is the younger OBSV (the 2012 contained an 11-year version in addition to the 17).  All the other recipes are the same from last year but one year older.  Now that's not to say necessarily that they're the same batches, but clearly the goal here was to refine the formula and offer a more mature expression.

Tasting Notes

Appearance:  Another rose gold, dark tea blend.

Nose:  First comes dry cracking grain and big spice.  Waves of drying grass, rye, and wild flowers.  There's lots of wood here, big old oak with wood polish.  There isn't a big sweetness here, but there is fruit.  More of a citrus pop with bitter lemon candies and tangerine.

Palate:  The palate follows suit with a very woody and crisp punch.  Ripe oranges, tobacco, and hot ginger in the back of the mouth.  Little bursts of tropical fruit on the tip of the tongue.  And the rich wood / leather comes back to dominate the palate.

Finish:  Perhaps the longest finish of the bunch.  There's smoke and there's a lot of wood.  There is definitely some heat here.  Hotter than a couple of the higher proof bottles, despite it being the oldest and most mature.  Definitely the clearest oak profile and the most dry, crisp, and tight finish.

Review:  The spice and wood are the best of the bunch.  Very refined cracking dry pop of deep oak, tobacco, and sawdust.  It's the most distinctive and the oldest tasting of the line for sure.

The Final Three

Well thanks for spending some of your hard-earned Thanksgiving break with the Beast!  This was our final review, and so now all that's left is to declare a victor.  We can give you a sneak preview.  It's down to three marvelous beasts.  Which will take Gold, Silver, & Bronze?

Contender #1: 2013 LE Single Barrel
The most drinkable at the highest
test, a brilliant effort focusing
on sweetness and smoothness
Contender #2: 2012 LE Small Batch
Balancing the sweetness of the 2013
with a hefty spicy kick and some
gorgeous wood and age
making an appearance.
Contender #3: 125th Anniversary
Small Batch
The most mature, woody, and
refined.  The oldest tasting with
bold leather, spice, and oak.


  1. I've only been able to taste the 125, so that's my winner!

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  3. I really like the quality of your reviews!