Four Roses Small Batch Blend Background
Note: Looks like i got the formula mixed up below. I haven’t retried the blend, but if you’re interested in experimenting, the correct formula should have been:
OBSK = 70g
OESO = 30g
OESK = 70g
OBSO = 30g
So, I’m a big fan of Four Roses. I can go back and forth on whether I like the Single Barrel better than the Small Batch. More times than not I’ll probably grab the Small Batch. I also really like their private barrel program. Stores can choose a barrel of one of Four Roses’ ten recipes and have them bottled up at full barrel strength for their customers. I’d argue these private barrels are one of the best thing going in Bourbon right now. At least for bottles that you actually find on the shelves.
The idea of a Four Roses Small Batch Blend came when I reviewed the Small Batch I was left wondering how it would be at a higher proof. The Small Batch is bottled at 90-proof, while the Single Barrel is 100-proof. In that Small Batch review I linked to an interview of Jim Rutledge by Jason Pyle on YouTube. In there Jim basically told us the recipe for Small Batch. With this info, I pulled four private bottles of the shelf and got to work.
Four Roses Small Batch uses four of the ten Four Roses recipes. Two are the higher rye mash recipe and two of the lower split between two yeasts. The recipes are OBSO, OESO, OBSK, and OESK. In the interview Jim states the recipe is 50% of each grain recipe and then a 70/30 split between the yeasts. From his description of the yeasts I would call it 70% of the O and 30% of the K. So, my trial Four Roses Small Batch blend looked like this:
OBSO (Tippin’s Market, Ann Arbor) = 70g
OESK (Four Roses Gift Shop) = 30g
OESO (Tippin’s Market, Ann Arbor) = 70g
OBSK (Tippin’s Market, Ann Arbor)= 30g
First some caveats here. We’re using private barrels, which means bottles likely won’t have a benchmark taste profile that you might get from a commercial release. Then these are single barrels so each will be a little different. And we have barrels ranging from 9 years, 8 months to 11 years 6 months, plus alcohol ranging from 56.7% to 63.6%. What I do here will likely be hard to replicate, so this is just for fun and not science.
To break things down, I felt the Small Batch was more fruity with strawberries and bananas. Also crisper. The Four Roses Small Batch blend was more oak, char, and roasted notes. Lots of fruit still, but seemed to take a back seat to the alcohol and barrel. Also not as bright. The Four Roses Small Batch blend also had a little perfume. I thought the Four Roses Small Batch blend had really nice oakyness and tannic mouthfeel and overall was very nice. The Small Batch though I felt was more nuanced allowing the more subtle flavors to bloom and was generally well put together.
I then tried adding some water to the Four Roses Small Batch blend and that brought out more of the subtle stuff I’m digging in the Small Batch. Overall I think a little water improves this glass. I’m not sure on the proof. I’d guess somewhere around 100-110-proof.
Blending whiskey is an interesting process. Sometimes the blend transcends the parts like with the Weller 12-Old Weller Antique/Pappy blend. Other times it subtracts like with the Elijah Craig 12/Elijah Craig 12 Barrel Proof blend.
So how did the Four Roses Small Batch Blend do? I’m coming away from this blend appreciating Four Roses Small Batch even more. The lower proof really seems to showcase these four recipes. I think there is something there with a little water, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble. I’d say just go for the readily available bottle at a good price. And if you do gather these recipes in a private bottling, which you should, I would just enjoy them individually.
Now what if I had a different selection of bottles in these recipes? How would that work? That’s a good question for another time!
Does it Blend?
Don’t mess with a good thing