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Cigar Spirits: Four Roses Small Batch Select

13 May 2019

We’re in a golden age of bourbon, with more choices than ever before (including many craft distilleries coming online). But most bourbon still comes from a handful of companies and distilleries. Big operations like Jim Beam (Clermont, Boston, Maker’s Mark), Sazerac (Buffalo Trace and Barton’s), Heaven Hill, Wild Turkey, Brown Forman (Shively and Woodfor Reserve), and Four Roses still produce over 90 percent of bourbon sold.

Compared to the others, Four Roses has always had a rather limited lineup of regular offerings: the entry-level Yellow Label, along with Small Batch and Single Barrel. Beyond those, the only Four Roses you would find are annual limited edition releases and private barrel selections released as one-offs. (The other Four Roses distillate you’d regularly encounter is Bulleit bourbon, which was for many years contract-distilled for its owner by Four Roses.)

All that makes a new Four Roses regular offering a particularly noteworthy and anticipated event. Predictably, that new offering, Small Batch Select, is Four Roses’ most expensive to date (Yellow Label costs around $20 per bottle, Small Batch around $35, and Single Barrel around $45; Small Batch Select costs $55-60).

One of the unique aspects of Four Roses is that it produces eight different bourbon “recipes” with two different yeast strains and four unique mashbills (all of which are employed in the Yellow Label offering). Small Batch uses four recipes, but the new Small Batch Select uses six (two of which are used in both). The mingling of six- and seven-year-old bourbons is then bottled without chill filtration at 104 proof.

The deep copper-colored bourbon features an inviting nose with vanilla, toffee, black cherries, orange peel, and mint. On the palate flavors include burnt caramel, light floral notes, boiled peanuts, candied fruit, bubble gum, and black pepper spice. The finish is rich and long, with cinnamon, salted caramel, and light oak.

It’s a delicious bourbon, one of the best new non-limited offerings put out in the last year. Hopefully they’ve made enough. Small Batch Select was recently introduced in Kentucky, New York, California, Texas, and Georgia, though reportedly the rest of the country will be getting some soon.

With complex, full flavors, you’ll want to pair this bourbon with a similarly rich, integrated cigar. Here are a few cigars that fit the bill: La Flor Dominicana Limitado, Paul Garmirian 25th Anniversary, Ramón Allones Specially Selected, and Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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