Four Roses Small Batch

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, 45% abv(90 Proof), $28/bottle

I really enjoy Four Roses’ products. From a style perspective they totally do their own thing, focusing on a unique process of two grain recipes and five strains of yeast, yielding 10 distinct bourbons that may be batched (in the case of this product) in a myriad of ways. This gives Four Roses an immense amount of flexibility to craft bourbons with varied levels of spice and fruitiness. It’s this style that I find so different and refreshing. Take this Four Roses Small Batch for example. This bourbon’s nose is fresh and vibrant with honeyed spice, anise/licorice, apple and berry fruit. A great nose for this strangling summer heat. The sip reveals subtle sweetness of burned sugar, honey, then some barrel, citrus, and layers of spice and vanilla. The finish is nice and clean with some sweet spice remaining. Its versatility lends itself amazingly well to cocktails in addition to neat sipping. Give it a try!

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.4 (Excellent)


  1. Texas says:

    To me, this is the most balanced bourbon I have ever had. Also the first one where I detected a note of coconuts. This is the Highland Park 12 year of bourbons. It has something there for everyone.

  2. Dawn says:

    Hi Jason, Can you help me better understand your lingo and rating scale ? I can’t tell a couple things: 1) you’re either assembling a numerical score using a 0-10 points rating accumulation (this much for color, this much for aroma, for flavor, for intensity, finish, etc.) or it’s more a gut feel for placement withing a set of ranges you’ve established in general. 2) In this review you said this is excellent, and you rated the whiskey 8.4 , which together has an unfamiliar fit, in terms of the usual vernacular. It tells me the scale and the descriptions of the ranges are not what I anticipated them to be.

  3. Dawn, great question. There are reviewers like Jim Murray that break the rating down into components (Nose, Palate, Finish, and Overall). They assign a numerical value to each component, and when added together they have a score value. I can’t say it’s wrong, however I also don’t believe that taking something that is already very subjective as it is, and then breaking it down into 4 more subjective parts to give the impression of “scientific approach” is the right way to do it. So yes, it’s a feel for where it sits within the scale. I’m obviously thinking about each component, but in some cases the end result can be bigger than the sum of it’s parts.

    As for part 2, my scale notes that whiskeys in the 8.0-8.8 range are Very Good to Excellent. At an 8.4, this whiskey is in the upper level of that range, which is why I’ve noted it as excellent within the review. While you could multiply my scale times 10 and get the traditional 100 point scale, I went this direction to allow me even just a bit more leeway to redefine the “vernacular” as you put it. Traditionally something in the 90’s might slot in as “excellent”, but it’s important to keep my scale in mind when reading the review and the rating number. Because it’s a 10 point scale, i’m also hoping it’s just different enough so that you don’t lump it in with the common scales out there. That was the goal anyway. Whether or not I executed well is for you to decide. To date, I’ve not seen a perfect rating system – even mine. What’s important I feel is the reviewers consistency within that scale. Again, whether or not I’ve executed on that is also up to the reader.

    Great questions.

  4. Dawn says:

    Jason, I understand your approach now, and it works. Yes, I fell into that bad assumption that the values for a 10 point scale would follow the line typically used for a 100 point scale (90-100 excellent, etc.), but there’s no reason that it must do that. BTW, I probably won’t get around to trying the Four Roses Small Batch for a while, as it’s $40 here. We’re already juggling six whiskies (each under $30 a pop) and somehow there’s already three more unopened ones in the cupboard as well (Wild Turkey 101, Rittenhouse 100, Evan Williams 2002.)

  5. Craig says:

    Have generally drunk Scotch whisky before and tried this one earlier in the year and really loved it. Aside from this bottle the only other bourbons/American whiskeys I had tried was Jack Daniels and Jim Beam – which other bourbons in the same price range would you recommend for me to try?

  6. Iskch1 says:

    Jason, I just got the Four Roses Small Batch for Valentines day. My wife loves the Yellow Label. This particular one is more complex and you can tell the difference with the regular Yellow Label. Nice stuff.