The Four Roses Distillery is celebrating its 135th anniversary this year and that spells great news for bourbon lovers after the announcement of the 135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch.
The Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch is one of the most highly sought after and coveted bourbon releases each year from any distillery. Bourbon aficionados go nuts for this release on any normal year but I was fortunate enough to sample the 135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch and can confirm this year is something special.
Four Roses 135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch: What’s in the Bottle and Blend
This year’s 135th Anniversary Limited Edition bottle looks similar to years past but it has a special ‘135th anniversary’ symbol near the bottom. As is the case every year, it is non-chill filtered and barrel strength. This year’s Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch is bottled at 108-proof.
As is the case each year, there are 4 liquid streams in the final blend. This year’s Limited Edition Small Batch includes 3 of the 10 Four Roses recipes, with 2 of the bourbon components sharing the same recipe but aged 4 years apart.
- OESV 12-Year (Recipe 06) – 35% of the final blend
- OESK 14-Year (Recipe 07) – 40% of the final blend
- OESV 16-Year (Recipe 06) – 20% of the final blend
- OBSV 25-Year (Recipe 01) – 5% of the final blend
The OESV and OBSV recipes utilized the ‘V’ yeast from Four Roses which is famous for ‘delicate fruit’ notes. OESV is Yeast V + Mashbill: E which is made up of 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley. The OBSV stream is V yeast + Mashbill B is much higher in rye and made up of 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley. The 40% OESK stream is made up K Yeast (slight spice) and Mashbill E (75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley).
I was fortunate enough to speak with Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott about this year’s release while doing a tasting of the individual liquid streams and the final blend. Sampling the four liquids, Brent Elliott explained how it is the OESV recipe that’s driving the ‘honey and sweetness’ and floral/lavender notes found in the finished blend. The 40% OESK (14-year) counterbalances that sweetness by bringing in extra spice and oak.
How To Get This Year’s Limited Edition Small Batch
As was the case last year, there will be a lottery for people looking to purchase a bottle of the special 135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch. Those 21 and up can enter on the Four Roses website with registration running from August 22nd to the 28th.
Winners will be contacted on September 7th. Then, in order to retrieve the bottle (and pay for it), winners will need to visit the Four Roses Distillery during business hours between September 15th – October 15th. And only the winner can show up to retrieve their bottle, nobody can be sent to pick up a bottle for someone else.
There are approximately 15,060 hand-numbered bottles available, each with a suggested retail price of $199.99
In addition to the lottery, limited bottles of the Four Roses 135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch will be available nationwide in stores.
For anyone wondering, this is not the first time that Four Roses has used two liquids of the same recipes in the Limited Edition Small Batch. They previously used two of the same recipes but different age statements in 2012, 2017, and 2019. Elliott said he landed on the 3 recipes pretty early this year and from there it was just having fun with the various age statements and percentages.
Brent said the most difficult part of the blending process for the 135th Anniversary Limited Edition was settling on the right percentages. The Four Roses Master Distillery says he tasted through somewhere between 30 and 40 test blends this year before settling on the final percentages, a process that took several months.
And unlike other distilleries, the ‘tasting panel’ at Four Roses for the Limited Edition Small Batch is very informal. Brent Elliott pulls in everyone on his team for daily and monthly tastings. And as the process winds down toward the finished blend he pulls them back in for more feedback.
Asked if there was anything different with this release since it is an anniversary year, Brent Elliott said this is an incredible glimpse into what Four Roses can do. The Limited Edition Small Batch is completely different, year over year, with 10 recipes + countless age statements to choose from, so he used the 135th anniversary bottling to really showcase how unique Four Roses bourbon can be.