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Pocket-Sized Review: Four Roses Mariage, the Original 2008 "Limited Edition" Offering from the Jim Rutledge Era


Four Roses Limited Edition 2008 Mariage Sample - Pocket Sized Review

An excellent opportunity has presented itself thanks to the generosity of my friends Jess and Drew Flavell who work all kinds of magic in the whiskey community. I happened to see what Drew was sharing with his wonderful wife this past Valentine's day. When Drew saw my jaw sitting on the floor, he gave me a nudge to quit the drooling, and included a sweet sample of that exact bottle I was salivating over in a care package that once again left my mouth agape.



I'd like to thank Drew for sending this along in order for me to be able to give it an honest review. Let's dive in for a quick exploration of the 2008 release of Four Roses Mariage, and I'll do my best to keep it pocket-sized!


 

Company on Label: Four Roses Distillery

Whiskey Type: Bourbon

Mash Bill Percentages: A marriage of Four Roses' two recipes, which each have their own mash bills

OBSV: 60% corn, 35% rye, 5% malted barley

OESK: 75% corn, 20% rye, 5% malted barley

Proof: 107.8°

Age: 10 years (a blend of 10 year OESK and 13 year OBSV barrels)

Further identification: This is the first release of Four Roses foray into hyper-aged barrel strength small batch releases that was available in 2008 at an MSRP of $70; 3,492 bottles were produced


 

Nose: Classic, creamy caramel wafts up most prominently upon first lifting the glass to my nose. Dusty oak characteristics like linen, clay, and rich crème brûlée are prevalent and pervasive. Hints of coconut, pear, and peach offer interesting nuances that aren't often found on Four Roses more standard offerings. Juicy apricot, lychee, and cherry blossom aromas invoke a distinctive summer vibe. It's a vast, tropical, bright, beautiful nose—I've never had another whiskey just like this one. A pinch of black pepper elevates the complex experience of a decadent Dutch oven peach cobbler.


Returning the nose to the glass after a sip offers bright, buttery tones. The smoke from rich cherry pipe tobacco can be made out from a distant air. Soft floral tones waft up from the outfield grass of my childhood baseball field. I'm undoubtedly wearing my sun-warmed leather baseball glove as a hat, not expecting any action this far out. Oddly, this nostalgic memory serves perfectly to show just how comfortable this bourbon is on the senses. Delicate, sweet smoke entwines with vanilla bean in exquisite beauty late in the glass. The empty glencairn smells of butterfingers, brown-bag lunches, and summer field trips, a wonder-filled boy staring out the window from atop a leather bus seat.


Palate: My first sip is delicate but flavorful as sugary peach rings introduce a tall glass of sweet iced tea. If I were in the naming department, I'd have called this one 'Kentucky Tea' rather than the chosen 'Mariage'. Flan, cookie dough, and hints of cherry skins create a really sophisticated flavor profile. Spiced berry compote erupts in flashes of intricacy. The mouthfeel is incredibly creamy, like a delicious custard dessert. Another sip lifts the heart with grace and beauty. Leather, dark chocolate ganache, and just a hint of agave put the senses on full alert with the uniqueness of this sip. My last taste presents notably dusty, with allspice, butterscotch, anise, and a touch of sandalwood. It's reminiscent of some of the older stocks that were being sent over to Japan from a bygone era in bourbon. The finish is long and classy, with vanilla bean and a full circle return to the tea notes we began with.


TL;DR: A wonderfully unique whiskey, likely never to be reproduced in quite the same way


 

Rating: 4.5/5



This falls just shy of "gives me chills" whiskey, though it is absolutely wonderful to sip. I'd compare it to some of the really old (15-18 year) pre-fire Heaven Hill stocks, which almost always land lovingly on my palate. To round out this review, I took a small sip of one of my previously reviewed pours of Four Roses, namely the 2022 limited edition release and I confirmed I like that 2022 release just a touch better for different reasons. The 2008 Mariage is a whiskey that you can feel with your whole body, righteously shining as a muse for even the most lackluster of whiskey reviewers. Sit and sip this to "Inner Voyage" by Nicholas Bamberger and try to tell me something doesn't stir in your breast.


Four Roses Limited Edition Bottlings

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