The 2023 Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Breaks a Record

Celebrating the distillery’s 135th year with the oldest recipe they've ever used

135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch of Four Roses, available now
The 135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch from Four Roses, available soon.
Four Roses

If you’re Four Roses, there’s a formula for success. Literally. 

Every year, Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott spends about two months creating a special barrel-strength Small Batch release that highlights the distillery’s distinct bourbon recipes. This year’s limited-edition bottling (the 16th edition) honors the 135th anniversary of Four Roses and features a blend of recipes aged 12-25 years — meaning, it contains the oldest recipe ever used in a Four Roses special release.

Now, about that formula. There are 10 recipes used for various Four Roses releases: it’s two mashbills (both fairly high in rye) across five proprietary yeast strains. The standby Four Roses Bourbon blends all 10 into a solid 80-proof sipper, while the Limited Edition Small Batch releases focus on just four recipes, utilizing much older barrels.

“We use these recipes to create consistency among our products but also to create differences with the Small Batch, Small Batch Select and other products,” Elliott said during a media tasting this week. “Depending on which recipes we select, we can create truly unique flavor profiles.”

Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott
Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliott
Four Roses

According to Elliott, the distillery has over 400,000 barrels. “Whenever I find batches that seem to be extraordinary for whatever reason — either it’s a really good example of a particular recipe or it’s just unique in some way — I will typically set aside a handful of barrels from that particular batch and not touch those until they reach at least 10 years of age,” he says. 

And this time, he went further. This year’s bottle features the following recipes: OESV 12 (35%), OESK 14 (40%), OESV 16 (20%) and the special OBSV 25 (5%), the oldest barrels ever used in a special release. You can see those abbreviation meanings and their respective tasting notes here. This also marks only the fourth time two similar recipes (OESV) with different age statements have been used.

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That 25-year-old batch is purposely limited in the recipe. “It probably won’t stand on its own because it does have significant dried antique oak on the finish,” says Elliott. “It’s best used as a top note or to accentuate other flavors and depth to the fruit notes that exist.”

This year’s special edition is bottled at 108 proof and features the distillery’s recently updated packaging and logo, along with an engraved rose cluster on the cork. You’ll find a lot of spiced oak, honey, allspice, stone fruit, berries, vanilla and a hint of mint. It’s soft, rich and offers a lot of depth while being approachable — a hallmark of any Four Roses release. 

“​​It really demonstrates how we can create something different every single year,” says Elliott. “If you taste this compared to last year’s or two years ago or five years ago, there’s always going to be a lot of difference from year to year.”

Four Roses will offer a limited quantity for sale at the recently revamped Four Roses Distillery Visitor Center in Lawrenceburg, KY, through a public lottery. Individuals can register for the lottery from now through August 28 here (winners will need to pick up at the distillery). 

If you don’t win the lottery, the 135th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch will hit select retailers on September 15 with an MSRP of $199.99. They’ll go fast, as they’re only producing 15,060 hand-numbered bottles. (Do note that Four Roses makes some excellent easily available and very affordable offerings as well.)

“With these anniversary bottles, it gives a good glimpse into what Four Roses can do and how we can use these batches of different recipes to create something totally different,” says Elliott. “It creates something unique that you’re never going to be able to recreate again.”


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