four roses 130 anniversary bourbon

To call this limited edition release from Four Roses a “sipping whiskey” is something of a misnomer. The thought that came to mind as I tasted it was “staring whiskey,” meaning you might want to find a nice fixed point to focus your eyes as this bourbon’s near-infinite finish works its way through your sensory system.

But let’s back up a second. Four Roses 130th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon was released in September 2018 to mark the distillery’s same-numbered birthday. Master Distiller Brent Elliot selected four of the distillery’s 10 distinct recipes to make the whiskey: a 10-year OBSV, a 13-year OBSF, a 14-year OESV, and a 16-year OESK. (All those acronyms are simply Four Roses’ way of specifying the mashbill and yeast strain of a particular whiskey.) It’s bottled at an impressive 108.4 barrel-strength proof.

Four Roses 130th Anniversary pours a medium copper in the glass and has a nose that’s dominated by rich vanilla but also contains a slightly nutty element with a touch of creamy nougat. It is medium bodied, and begins with flavors of toffee, nougat, and dry cocoa. The whiskey dries out and receives a big spice push as it approaches the palate, hitting a darker stone fruit flavor followed by hot, aggressive cinnamon. That spicy cinnamon note pushes all the way into the back of the palate, where it’s joined by straw and oak so vivid you’d swear your tongue was licking the barrel itself.

I can’t overstate how long the finish is. It’s long enough that you could theoretically get up and do the rest of the dishes as it winds its way through the back of your palate. But hopefully you’re sitting down, preferably in a leather armchair, and enjoying a remarkable bourbon that proves just how complex and rewarding this category of whiskey can be.


— 54.2% ABV
— $140

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