In 2019, Four Roses Small Batch Select became the fourth core offering from the distillery (and the first permanent product line extension since 2006), joining the “Yellow Label” flagship, Small Batch, and Single Barrel bourbons in the brand’s portfolio. Like regular-old Small Batch, Small Batch Select is aged for 6-7 years. It differs in that it is made with six, rather than four, of the Kentucky distiller’s recipes (for all you Four Roses nerds, that would be OBSV, OBSK, OBSF, OESV, OESK, and OESF). It’s also bottled at a punchier 52% ABV.
The nose is dominated by oak and cinnamon, and supplemented by cherry pits, honey, dried orange peels, and leather. It is medium in body, and begins on the palate with light vanilla and cinnamon, accompanied by darker notes of oak and leather. It receives a touch of apricot and orange peel in the center, where the spice ramps up until it effectively pins the tongue to the mat.
Its texture grows chalky at the finish, which has a spiced quality reminiscent of aromatic bitters with prominent notes of nutmeg, clove and allspice. The finish is long and dry, possessive of those aromatic spice flavors but played out with pleasant notes of cool spearmint that serve as a palate cleanser.
All-in-all, Four Roses Small Batch Select is one of the driest and most spice-forward bourbons I’ve encountered. From the very start, it stands out as an intensely dry bourbon that should subvert any expectations that this whiskey category must be “sweet.”
— 52% ABV