You can keep your pumpkin spice lattes and fall foliage—what I’m really looking forward to this month is the annual release of Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch, which hits liquor stores late September to the tune of 14,500 bottles.
As usual, the entry is composed of four distinct components, which are identified by both their ages and which of the 10 Four Roses mash bill recipes they hail from. 58% of this year’s effort is made up of a 16-year OESV; 23% comes from a 12-year OESK; 13% comes from a 16-year OBSV; and the remaining 6% is derived from a 14-year OBSQ.
Notably, this is the highest-proof Limited Edition Small Batch to date, bottled at a heady 114.4 proof.
It pours a rich, ruddy bronze in the glass and is possessed of a fruity nose typified by apples and peaches, spicy wild blackberries, and toasted oak. It’s those berry flavors that first explode on the palate with an intense, complex flavor informed by sweetness, picked-just-before-ripe tartness and that spicy kick of wild berry seeds.
Sidenote: I grew up in a mountainous part of rural Pennsylvania, and from the first sip this bourbon took me back to popping wild raspberries and blackberries into my mouth as a kid.
The fruitiness continues further on with peaches and caramel apples. Toasted oak and dry cinnamon greet the move to the back, where that exploded wild berry flavor is still felt but coupled to vanilla and a rich, full-bodied caramel that was only hinted at earlier. Its finish is long and satisfying with dry notes of nutmeg and cinnamon tied to rich caramel.
The bourbon has a particularly interesting texture. It presses a substantial weight against the tongue without overpowering it, but remains surprisingly slick and nimble for a bourbon of its proof.
In a tasting, Four Roses master distiller Brent Elliot noted that the OBSQ, which accounts for the smallest share of the blend, is the driving force behind those wild, warming berry flavors that define so much of the 2021’s fascinating experience. Here’s to hoping we’ll see more of that OBSQ in the future.
— 57.2% ABV