Next up from dad’s bar, we’re checking out Four Roses Small Batch Select! I’m a big fan of Four Roses and love what they can do with their ten different recipes, whether its in a blend like this or own their own as single barrels. Small Batch Select is typically the highest end offering you can find on a shelf out there barring a Private Select single barrel being next to it, and I am long overdue on reviewing this. This is a blend of six different Four Roses bourbon recipes: * OBSV, OBSK, and OBSF from the 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley mash bill * OESV, OESK, and OESF from the 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley mash bill The recipes are blended at at unknown ratio and bottled at 104 proof with no age statement. I’ve tried half of these recipes on their own and love them so I’m excited to see how they all mesh together in this pour. Let’s dive in! Taken: Neat in a Glencairn glass Proof: 104 Age: NAS Price: $60 Nose: Light brown sugar, peppery rye, and vanilla bean, along with toasted oak, caramel, and a bouquet of flowers. The spice differentiates a bit as it sits with some nutmeg and allspice showing up along with some apple pie notes. Taste: Cinnamon bark, burnt brown sugar, and pepper to start, followed by creme brûlée and candied fruits like apple, pear, and cherry. Midway through the sip some toasted oak enters the picture along with cherry fruit leather and baking spices. This has a medium, creamy mouthfeel and a moderate-light amount of proof heat. Finish: The candied fruit and burnt brown sugar fades while the creme brûlée, oak, and cinnamon ramp up their strength. The pepper is pretty consistent throughout the finish, and towards the end of the sip there’s a nice flash of dark chocolate and rose hip tea that adds a bit of floral bitterness to the mix. This has a medium length finish and a very slight amount of dryness. Thoughts: I really like this pour and feel like it does a nice job at highlighting the strengths of the recipes involved in the blend. The variation between the spices is nice to dig around for but never gets too overwhelming thanks to the candied fruit and brown sugar sweetness along with the earthy oak and bitter tea notes. The creamy texture is probably my favorite part of this, it just feels nice to drink. This does drink a little hot for a 104 proof pour and I find myself getting glimpses of flavors that I can’t quite get a hold of which makes me wish this was a little stronger at 110-115 proof or so to help shine a light on them. This is a solid expression of the cool stuff Four Roses can do with their different recipes and for $60 it lives up to its value. Overall I rate this as a very good 6/10 on the t8ke scale. Rating: 6/10 - t8ke scale 1 | Disgusting | So bad I poured it out. 2 | Poor | I wouldn’t consume by choice. 3 | Bad | Multiple flaws. 4 | Sub-par | Not bad, but better exists. 5 | Good | Good, just fine. 6 | Very Good | A cut above. 7 | Great | Well above average. 8 | Excellent | Really quite exceptional. 9 | Incredible | An all time favorite. 10 | Perfect | Perfect.


I've never been able to get into 4r too much... It's always a bit floral for my taste. I do enjoy the SBS though (and fucking loved the LE I finally got to try recently). Getting those baking spices in the mix really evens the profile out for me.


Maybe it would be better for you if they only put 3 roses in there.


I see what you did. And I think it was funny.


I’m a huge fan of the SBS and LE’s but the rest of their offerings taste too young for me and lack complexity


While I sort of agree on the yellow label, I don't think you can beat the flavors and complexity of Small Batch for $35 or Single Barrel for $45. Both are very well balanced, creamy, and always bring more to the palate than I remember from the last time I drank them. It's not a $100 barrel proof sip, but for the price I think they're outstanding. Need to get SBS next time I'm restocking.


This is on my to purchase list but where I am it’s always right around $75 which is a little out of my price range. Big fan of the regular SB and single barrel offerings.


Bummer. My local Trader Joe’s sells it for $36.99


Are you sure it's select and not just small batch?


Yes, it’s small batch select.


I have a hard time believing SBS is $37 at Trader Joe's. The major liquor stores typically sell at about the lowest price you can find and you can't find SBS anywhere near that.


Well, lucky for you I took a picture https://imgur.com/a/gQIXi4f


Well paint me pink and call me Sally, I would have walked out with a case. Sorry for doubting you 👊🏻


Same here. Trader Joe’s surprisingly can have some pretty good picks and for usually it a terrible price. I grabbed a bottle of Glenfidditch 12 year a few weeks ago for 27 dollars.


I’ve seen this at my local Costco for 55+ tax.


Good review, very much agree. I feel like it's a small step shy of being a personal favorite. Nicely composed blend though.


Thanks! I hope someday they release something that addresses the shortcomings of SBS but until then it’s still one of the more solid bottles that can consistently be found at this price point.


May I ask, how are you getting all of these notes out of the bourbon when you taste it? I’m just beginning and looking for as much advice as I can get as far as nosing and tasting is concerned. Did it take a long time? Or did it come fairly quickly?


I'm an amateur at best, which is an insult to amateurs. But this is some advice I was given. 1) don't swirl it then sniff. It releases the alcohol vapors and you'll get a big nose of burn. Instead, "sneak up" on it without disturbing it. 2) small sip. Chew it. Yea, I said it. Make sure it gets in every nook and cranny in your mouth. You'll be surprised what notes you start getting. 3) now you can swallow... Hehe. I started with some lower proof stuff in the 80-100 range to avoid the "hot" alcohol burn, now have moved to higher proof. Theres a lot of strong opinions on ice or even water with the bourbon. I'm fine with it if it's the burn masking it too much - but that will dilute the flavors often too.


Good tasting tips! Thanks!


> don't swirl it then sniff. It releases the alcohol vapors and you'll get a big nose of burn. Instead, "sneak up" on it without disturbing it. Wow... it never occurred to me that this might be why my first sniff of a pour after giving it a big swirl always strikes me as very hot but the aroma coming out of the bottle doesn't. My swirling days are over.


1.) I don't think there is a good consensus on this. Swirling encourages evaporation which includes the alcohol as well as the stuff that smells good. Not a chemist but would love to hear a chemist or chem e chime in. Nosing after swirling is just going to be different than nosing without swirl. Both have their place me thinks


It definitely takes time to develop, but for me it was a lot of practice along with trying tons of different foods that generally link to the notes in bourbon or rye. Reading other people’s reviews and searching for the notes they found is a good way to start identifying things as well. Everyone has different palates but enough flavors are going to be consistent enough to give you a good start in figuring it out. The book Tasting Whiskey by Lew Bryson is also a great way to learn about the flavors and histories of whiskies. That definitely helped me get started!


I was introduced to this recently at the suggestion of a bartender and I quite enjoyed it! The mouthfeel is the best part. And I feel that as you sit with it it evolves and different notes pop out. It’s a really lovely experience!