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Cigar Spirits: Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2015

22 Dec 2015

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While we do publish an annual list of our highest-rated cigars (check back next week for the 2015 edition), we’ve generally not named a top individual cigar. Unsurprisingly, we’ve also never given much thought to naming a whiskey or bourbon of the year.

We’re not going to start doing so now. But if we were, the Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2015 would probably be my top contender. When checking out the 2014 version, I wrote: “The 2014 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition is a delicious bourbon, and it only makes me look forward to the soon-to-be-released 2015 Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition even more.”

Luckily, I was able to grab a bottle of the 2015 ($100 retail, although it frequently sells for more). Not only did it live up to the very good 2014, but it exceeded it by leaps and bounds. Perhaps that shouldn’t have been a surprise as this was long-time Four Roses’ Master Distiller Jim Rutledge’s final limited edition selection, as he retired in September after 49 years in the spirits industry.

For this year, the small batch used four bourbons from three of Four Roses’ ten recipes: OBSK (16 years), OESK (15 years), OESK (14 years), and OBSV (11 years). The barrel-proof combination comes in at 108.6-proof (54.3% ABV). The rich, amber-colored bourbon features an inviting nose with vanilla, red apple, candy corn, and a hint of mint.

On the palate, the bourbon boasts creamy notes with cinnamon spice, dried fruit, fresh apples, burnt caramel, and honey-soaked oak. The finish lingers on the tongue with more apple, spearmint, and clove.

You can add a splash of water to this barrel-proof whiskey if you like, but given the mild (for barrel-strength) proof it really isn’t necessary as it drinks better neat. I haven’t tried every new bourbon introduced in 2015, but I’ve tried many of the high-profile ones, and at least so far this is the bottle that impressed me most with a rare combination of intensity and integrated, balanced flavor.

Pair it with a balanced medium- to full-bodied cigar (for example SobremesaTatuaje BlackPadrón Serie 1926, or Cuban Cohiba Siglo) and enjoy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

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