December 14, 2015

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2015

Our most requested review for this bourbon season is the new Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch.  Loyal readers know that we're absolutely gaga for these annual releases.  Last year's 2014 batch was not quite as amazing as 2013's 125th Anniversary bottle. And the 2012 edition is still in our lifetime top ten bourbons.  The 2010 is pretty special in its own right.

The key to the success of these releases seems to be the inclusion of the old stocks of 15+ year old barrels. The first ingredient in 2012 was a 17-year OBSV (if you're not familiar with Four Roses' ten recipes, see our tasting of all 10). The first ingredient in the 2013 was presumably the same OBSV but one year older at 18 years.  The 2014 did not include any 15+ year casks and perhaps that's why it didn't shine quite so much as the other two.

With Jim Rutledge retiring this year, this is his last limited edition release, so we have very high expectations.  The rumors were that he was saving some final remaining stocks of old barrels especially for this bottling. Sure enough, as we excitedly unwrapped our fall score - our one bottle of SmB15, and turned it over, we were greeted with a very promising list of vintages!

Wow, 16, 15, and 14-year barrels!  That is pretty damn exciting.  The juice looks glorious as always with a deep color like halfway between iced tea and fruit punch (remember, try to ignore the color of single malts unless they specifically "uncoloured", whereas with bourbon they're not allowed to add coloring so enjoy!!).

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Yowza, that is *just* what we're looking for. It's like bread pudding with copious buttermilk frosting. All kinds of char in here. Big baking spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, cocoa, cloves, little licorice/anise notes, brown sugar. Finally some big fresh herbs - taragon?  sage?  something along those lines.  The nose is a total 10!

Palate: Nice even palate moving more in the char and bbq smoke direction. It's bold and assertive for sure. You know what? We're going to do the unthinkable and add three eyedropper drops of water to this one. Wow that's nice.

Finish:  There's a tiny bitterness in the finish that wasn't there in the '12 and '13.  But overall we're looking at a top class whiskey here. Deep and rich and smooth, massive flavor, nice long finish for a bourbon. With the drop of water it is even a little better and the bitterness fades back.

For reference, the second glass is even better than the first. Really lovely drinker here, just the perfect special occasion glass for the holidays!



  1. My first taste of a FRLE was last year's small batch. I was underwhelmed. Then I heard Rutledge interviewed on a podcast about this year's iteration. He talked about how he knew immediately which of the proposed blends he wanted to release. He nailed it! This one blew me away. The only thing I've had this fall that was even close to as impressive was the 2015 George T. Stagg. Glad you guys got one as FR superfans - great review!

    1. Thanks Grant. It really is a stupendous bourbon. A fitting farewell from Big Jim!!!