Review: Four Roses Small Batch Select

A new Four Roses expression that’s going to be part of their core lineup?  Sounds like something I’m interested in.  I’m fortunate enough to live in one of the states where the initial run was launched and as a result, snagging myself one of these wasn’t that big of a deal.  Remember, this is going to be nationwide eventually and will be easy to get, don’t overpay on secondary!  So how is it?  Let’s find out!

I got a text last Tuesday from a friend I’ve made through the local Atlanta Bourbon and Whiskey Facebook group telling me that all of the stores that he reps for will be receiving their Small Batch Select on Thursday.  How convenient….that just so happens to be my day off every week!  I swing by one of my local stores and ask if they have it in yet.  It’s 6pm at this point, so I imagine if they were going to get it, they would already have it.  I didn’t see it on the shelf anywhere or in any of their normal display areas.  The girl at the register has no idea what I’m talking about and says if it’s not on the shelf, they didn’t have it.  I’m about to leave when another gentleman that just clocked in said he would go check in the back.  I can see him on the security feed on a monitor behind the counter walk into the back, grab a box with a red label on it from behind a few other boxes and he reappears moments later carrying a bottle of Four Roses Small Batch Select.  Excellent.  The girl rings it up, $59.99.  Not bad.  I believe retail is supposed to be anywhere between $54.99 and $64.99 depending on the market, so I’m satisfied.

Upon arriving at home, I throw a pizza in the oven and wait for a friend to arrive so we can re-watch Avengers: Infinity War before going to see Endgame.  While waiting, I go ahead and crack the bottle and have myself a small pour.  My initial impression was that this is definitely Four Roses, but it’s not anything amazing.  I sip on it over the course of the movie and it grows on me a little more, but never “wows” me.

A few days later I try another pour by itself and nothing has really changed.  A few more days and here I am writing this review and trying another pour.  I feel like it’s gotten better after being opened for a while, but there’s still something missing.  The nose is dark chocolate with a bit of that minty note you get from the ‘F’ yeast strains.  The palate is a little fruity, specifically raspberry and a bit of the dark chocolate comes through, caramel and a little bit of astringent oak round it out.  The finish is medium length, with mostly oak notes.  The addition of water brings out more of the raspberry and enhances the dark chocolate on the nose.

So my feelings about this are a little mixed.  I love Four Roses Single Barrel and Single Barrel Store Picks and the Small Batch is actually decent for the price point.  However, I feel like this kind of missed the mark.  I was very excited to have a 104 proof Four Roses product available as part of their core lineup, but I honestly think I would rather have their normal Single Barrel for almost half the price and I would definitely prefer to pony up an extra $10 and get a Single Barrel Store Pick.  So it’s not so much that the product is bad, it’s simply priced wrong.  This should be a $45 bottle that falls between their Single Barrel at $35 and their Store Picks at $69.  At $45, I wouldn’t feel like it needed to perform as well and would probably be less critical of any faults that I found, but considering this is in the same price range as Stagg Jr. and Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (by far some of the best bourbons on the market in my opinion), I feel like Four Roses needed to bring their game face on this one.

So would I recommend it?  Probably not.  I’d say skip out on this bottle and find yourself a good Single Barrel Store Pick or grab a couple of the regular Single Barrels and you’ll be golden.  Try it at a bar or get a pour off your friend that jumped on the boat too quickly like I did.  Maybe future releases will be different blends and proofs, but we’ll have to wait and see, until then, cheers!

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