Four Roses Small Batch Ltd. Ed. 2010

Four Roses Small Batch Ltd. Ed. 2010The cult of the Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition was a little slower to form than those of the annual Van Winkle and BTAC releases but it is now in full effect. I have previously reviewed the 2012 Limited Edition which, like yesterday’s Pappy 15, I purchased off the shelf in a Minneapolis store with no fuss at all (leaving many unclaimed behind it). Last year’s edition, however, I didn’t even see anywhere in the region and as I no longer chase hard to find bottles I don’t expect I’ll ever own another again. Luckily, I do know people willing to share and so here is a review of a Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition from 2010, well before anybody was getting over-excited about this whisky.

Four Roses Small Batch, Limited Edition, 2010 (55.1%; from a sample from a friend)

Nose: A little dusty at first but then some rich caramel and orange peel and a mix of dark honey and light molasses come wafting up. Gets more and more expansive with air and time and now there’s polished wood and a rich cherry/citrus glaze and some mushroom liquor too. Just a bit of cold black tea as well. With water the fruit expands and there’s some apricot too now and some dark buttered toast with marmalade.

Palate: More rye-forward on the palate with a bright spicy bite to go with the sweetness. A big hit of cool, sweet clove too and behind it is a more syrupy, brown sugary note. More citrus on the second and third sip–somewhere between dried orange and lemon peel. Some maple syrup too now. With more time wood emerges but there’s no astringence; more rye notes too now. Okay, let’s add some water. Water doesn’t do much for the palate, but doesn’t harm it either.

Finish: Long. Caramel sweetness with a bitter edge and a lemony counterpoint. A lot of rye here. The finish gets even more extended with water and the lemon comes to the top.

Comments: Just lovely stuff. Neat, it was a few notches below the 2012 edition which had much richer fruit on the nose but water almost pulled it up to that level.

Rating: 89 points.

Thanks to Patrick for the sample!

6 thoughts on “Four Roses Small Batch Ltd. Ed. 2010

  1. I still have an unopened bottle of this… which is buried in a box in a corner of my basement. Back then I was following Ralfy’s advice of buying a few nice bottles to enjoy in the future when they were no longer available. Now I need to do some house cleaning.

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    • That was good advice–if I’d followed it myself then I’d be very happy today. It’s not that long ago that I started spending a lot of money on whisky and back then it was still possible to find a lot of exceptional whisky at prices that now seem ridiculously reasonable. That’s single malt though–I guess in bourbon prices haven’t risen as markedly, it’s just availability that has dried up.

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      • Four Roses actually kept the prices fairly consistent on their limited editions. I think I purchased the 2010 Small Batch for $80 give or take.

        The 2008 and 2009 bottles were called Four Roses Mariage (yes that’s the French spelling) because Jim Rutledge took two exceptional single casks and “married” them together (one being a 19 year old). By 2010, Four Roses decided the name was too confusing (and possibly pretentious) and Rutledge wanted to blend more than two casks (since the Mariage name suggested two casks). So the renamed 2010 edition contains bourbon aged 10, 11, and 15 years old. I’m not sure if they were single barrels but they did get only 3,600 bottles out of the batch.

        Incidentally, Jim Rutledge, according to various blog sources, mentioned not being satisfied with the 2009 Mariage because the release had too much of the 19 year old whiskey which made it a bit woodier than how he wanted it. It seems that the following releases have blended more younger whiskey to balance the older stuff.

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        • Interesting. I don’t think you could get 3600 bottles out of 3 bourbon barrels; I’d imagine it would have to be 12-15 barrels. I’ve only had the 2010 and the 2012. I liked the 2012 a little bit more but I didn’t find a whole lot separating them: whatever Rutledge did to re-balance the profile has obviously worked. I have to say of all the (now) hard-to-get bourbon releases, the 2014 Four Roses Small Batch is the only one I’m very motivated to try and find.

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          • I agree. I assume the three age statements referred to several barrels with those ages. It would give Rutledge more to work with.

            If you are looking for a weird Four Roses, I would recommend the 2011 Limited Edition Single Barrel (which used the floral yeast strain). The blog reviews were very divisive on that release.

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        • I have the 2009 Mariage, too, but haven’t opened it. I’d read the thing about him being upset with the finished product, about how it had twice as much 19yr old than he wanted, but iirc it was really small amounts, like he wanted 4% and got 8% or something. I might be way off. Anyway, that has nothing to with the 2010 reviewed here!

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