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Four Roses Small Batch Select Review—A Brand Withstanding the Test of Time

Updated: May 31

Four Roses Small Batch Select

Most of the time, we, as consumers, are inundated with advertising from brands pushing their products into the market. Step into a cereal aisle in any big-box grocery store in the United States, and you have a visual definition of marketing inundation. But, other times, we, as whiskey consumers, don't necessarily need brands pushing their latest and greatest whiskey into our hands. We would rather have others who enjoy a particular whiskey convince us to find a bottle instead. The online communities created around the beautiful world of whiskey are evidence of this powerful form of marketing. Regardless of how you become aware of a brand, the quality of the product makes all the difference, and maybe the story behind the product, too.

In the book Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend, the late Al Young, Senior Brand Ambassador and author, describes Four Roses "as a story filled with adventure and romance, with a cast of colorful characters any fiction writer would die for." Intriguing, isn't it? As a fiction author, I certainly think so! In 1860, Paul Jones, Jr. moved his successful business from Atlanta to Louisville and began production. He trademarked the name Four Roses in 1888—that's Civil War era years, folks! Clearly, it's a brand rich with history, but the advertising, too, is featured in a lush landscape of historical markers.

Four Roses Time Square Alfred Eisenstaedt

In the famous Alfred Eisenstaedt photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square at the end of World War II, the Four Roses sign in the background is often cropped out in reproductions.

So, what does all this have to do with a whiskey write up? Well, I'm glad you asked, my friendly and patient reader. Four Roses bloomed into my awareness in a rather common way and became the brand that forever changed the landscape of my whiskey journey. I remember the first sip, the warmth it spread through my body, and how it made me appreciate the art of whiskey-making even more. And if you're slowly starting to nod your head, you may have a brand in mind that flipped the switch in your heart from gently appreciating the whiskey in your glass to absolutely falling head over heels in admiration for it. It may have been Four Roses for you, or maybe, even better, it will be after you read this review!

Four Roses Vintage Bottle
A vintage bottle of Four Roses Rye Whiskey

Good golly, I wish I was reviewing the bottle pictured above, but alas, I'm featuring a much more obtainable one, which is charming in and of itself, in my opinion. But, yes, you are reading that label correctly. Four Roses once sold rye whiskey. I, for one, would be in full bloom if they decided to release a modern-day rye during my lifetime. And with the latest news of the brand adding two new recipes, perhaps a rye whiskey isn't too far out of reach. For now, let me take you through the bottle that stirred the love for whiskey inside me.


Company on Label: Four Roses

Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: A blend of 6 recipes: OBSV, OESV, OBSK, OESK, OBSF, and OESF in undisclosed proportions

Proof: 104°

Age: NAS (known to be a minimum of 6 years)

Further identification: This product was first released around 2019; it is readily available today at an MSRP of $59.99


Nose: A lovely nose filled with great volume. Creamy caramel, rich vanilla, brown sugar, and soft oak. A swirl opens up fruitier notes, the kind best found during summer months: plump raspberries, juicy pears, and the skins of peaches. A third inhale ushers in a new note for me since my last visit, which admittedly was two years ago: mint leaf! A deep inhale transports me to my grandparent's sitting room with the back patio doors open on a late spring morning. I think with that jump in time, it's time to sip!

Returning to the nose after a sip takes me to a wrought iron chair on the edge of a flower garden that has yet to bloom. A fluffy raspberry tea cake with sticky vanilla frosting is on top of a napkin next to a cup of black tea. It's relaxed and familiar like I'm holding back a yawn. As I approach the end of the glass, I smell sugar cookie dough and the slightest hint of chocolate. The empty glass smells like cooling mulled berries in a cast iron skillet over a dying fire.

Palate: Oh, hello, fruity creaminess! Is that under-ripened sliced cantaloupe? I think so! And some chocolate peaking through, eager to be the star of this desert fruit plate—but likely not—since apricot has shown up, sweet and quick, followed by a tip of the tongue twirling of cinnamon and nutmeg. Another sip brings rye and herbal notes with streusel from a peach cobbler muffin.  Oh, there's that mint I missed so many times before, proudly showing up on my tongue today, followed by a gentle breeze of oak, and a vanilla finish that tingles and lingers. Late in the glass, I find puffs of vanilla and easy chamomile tea dusted with cinnamon. It's a pleasant medium finish but not entirely inspiring me to return to the glass in earnest.

TL;DR: a bottle worthy of a place in the ecosystem of whiskey-sipping appreciation


Rating: 4/5

This bottle has stood the test of time! Well, kind of. What was once a staple on my shelf some two years ago has since fallen off. In my prescription of the wise and patient methods laid out in the editorial policy, I found that I didn't really want to sip something so familiar for a third time. It seemed my palate and mind were seeking a more challenging taste. Have I outgrown the bottle that set me on this journey? Perhaps. But returning to this bottle now, with a mind primed for intention and purpose, has reaffirmed that beginnings are important and not to be forgotten.

Jes Smyth - Pu
With what started as a genuine curiosity for the “water of life,” fiction writer and published author Jes Smyth has nurtured her enthusiasm for whiskey ever since. From learning the vast history of whiskey making to celebrating the passion of the industry, she tastes each sip with intention and purpose while expressing the intricacies of whiskey in a relatable and heartfelt way. She is thrilled to be a contributing writer for and hopes her words will resonate with those ready to explore the beautiful world of whiskey.



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