After 12 years of nothing but limited editions and one-offs, Small Batch Select is joining Four Roses’s small and highly praised permanent collection, and it has a lot in common with one of the brand’s most coveted drops ever.
According to Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliot, the brand wanted the new expression’s flavor profile to mirror that of its domineering 130th Anniversary Small Batch — a bottle that earned the title “World’s Best Bourbon” from the World Whiskies Awards. Thanks to Four Roses’s unique approach to recipes, bourbon blending and penchant for total transparency, we know this isn’t just smart marketing.
Where most distilleries select a mashbill and start distilling, Four Roses reaches into its toolbox of recipes. Each of the 10 recipes appears as a four-letter code that clues you into what the stuff is — the first letter tells you it’s made in Kentucky, the second tells you the mashbill, the third tells you it’s straight whiskey and the fourth tells you the specific yeast strain. (If you’re confused, Four Roses has a handy explainer on its website.)
Small Batch Select’s predecessor, the 130th Anniversary bottle, features OBSV, OBSF, OESV, OESK recipes. Small Batch Select is a blend of six Four Roses recipes, including every one of those found in the award-winning bottle — OBSV, OBSK, OBSF, OESV, OESK and OESF. Both bottles are cut to similar proofs, too, with Small Batch Select at 104 and the 130th at 108 (Small Batch Select has the highest proof of any mainline Four Roses).
From there, differences emerge. If you’re able to find the 130th Anniversary bottle, it can run you more than $500 — Go Bourbon is reporting Small Batch Select will run you between $50 and $60.
Small Batch Select is also a non-chill-filtered bourbon, meaning it isn’t subjected to filtration processes that remove some residual fat and protein compounds in the juice (sort of like a natural wine). The effects of non-chill filtration are controversial — some say it’s just murkier bourbon, others say it gives the whiskey a more rounded mouthfeel. Elliot says it’s mostly a matter of preference. Finally, Small Batch Select is a mixture of six- and seven-year-old bourbon, significantly lower age statements than its pricey relative.
Four Roses says Small Batch Select is available now at the Lawrenceville, Kentucky, distillery and will roll out to Kentucky, New York, California, Texas and Georgia in the coming weeks. Elliot also confirmed that the bottle will be pushed nationwide over the next couple years. No information on pricing is available yet.