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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sipp’n Corn Bourbon Review – Four Roses 2015 Limited Edition Small Batch.

I was seated next to Jim Rutledge at this past Bourbon Affair while we blended our own small batch from half-pints of an 11-year OBSV, an 8-year OESO, a 6-year OESK, and a 15-year OBSO.  We learned how different recipes can complement each other, can do surprising things to each other, or can be difficult to fine-tune.  My first few blends were mostly unremarkable.  Then, when I landed on a blend that I thought was fantastic, I got a little cocky and traded with Jim, who had put together a blend that was practically the opposite of my components.  As you might imagine, Jim’s batch tasted like it could have been in the running for a Limited Edition bottling and mine had a long way to go in comparison.

That’s how the Four Roses Limited Edition process works.  They start with a test blend, tinker with it, refine it, experiment with it, and keep trying it until they reach a consensus.  The 2014 Limited Edition Small Batch took upwards of 70-100 test blends (depending on who you ask) before it was finally selected.  This year, however, the 2015 Limited Edition Small Batch was set after only 16 test blends.  Jim and his team knew that that landed on gold.


Whiskey:
Four Roses 2015 Limited Edition Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Total Bottles:
12,672

Age:
16-year OBSK, a 15-year OESK, a 14-year OESK, and an 11-year OBSV

ABV:
54.3% (108.6 proof)

Cost:
$127.00 (gift shop price) or $109.00 retail

Tasting Notes
Color:
Deep amber with that reddish hue that comes with nice age (before turning the corner to brown).

Nose:
Despite being barrel proof, there’s no singe here.  Feel free to soak up the aromas, and enjoy the “K” yeast shining through as I had hoped.  It has sweet scents of caramel, dark chocolate, brown sugar, honey, and dark fruit, balanced with a great punch of spice from the high-rye mash bills, and subtle cinnamon and clove.  Not as much oak as might be expected, but a great deep oak added to the balance.  I love this nose.

Taste:
Creamy – please try the “Kentucky Chew” with this one, and let it coat your mouth.  I don’t usually find the flavor of cherries in Four Roses, but here it is, with just a bit of orange citrus.  The spice is just right, and then transitions to rich sweetness like dark chocolate I detected in the nose, along with honey, cinnamon apples, and more caramel, and a perfect balance of oak and leather.  It’s such a treat when a Bourbon can be multi-dimensional, and this Limited Edition nails it.  Add a drop or two of water if that’s your thing (making it a little sweeter in this case), but this Limited Edition is best enjoyed neat and slow.

Finish:
The finish doesn’t quite keep up with the expectations created by the nose and the taste, but I’m not complaining.  It’s moderate in length, lingering, and warming, ultimately being dry with oak and leather, with just enough vanilla to provide balance, and mint to provide some flare.

Bottom Line:

After two years of winning “American Whiskey of the Year,” with the 2012 and 2013 Limited Edition Small Batch releases, 2014 could not “three-peat.”  This 2015 release should have Four Roses back in the running, and thus far based on what I’ve been able to try this year, it’s firmly in contention.

I knew going into this that I’m a sucker for the “K” yeast.  Private barrels of OBSK and OESK have been some of my all-time favorite bottles, so the heavy use of those recipes had me excited from the second that I first learned about this year’s batch.  Beginning with a fantastic nose (as in hands-down best nose of the year), this Limited Edition does not disappoint.  The balance of flavors is phenomenal too.  The high bar set by Four Roses probably contributed to my wanting more out of the finish – expectations are stratospheric – and with a slightly more robust and longer finish, it would have already been crowned American Whiskey of the Year.  This just means that I’ll have to try it blind alongside other contenders.

While there’s some sentimental value attached to the 2015 Limited Edition because it’s the last with Jim at the helm, this Bourbon blows past sentiment and will be remembered on its own merits as one of the best Bourbons of 2015.

Scores on The Sipp’n Corn Scale: 4.5


The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Wouldn’t even accept a free drink of it.
2 – Would gladly drink it if someone else was buying.
3 – Glad to include this in my bar.
4 – Excellent Bourbon and even worth its high price.
5 – Wow.  I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.

2 comments:

  1. So happy I was able to find a few bottles in the wild. Sounds like Jim went out on a high note. Really looking forward to this one!

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