Whisky Advocate

Whisky Advocate’s 19th Annual Award: American Whiskey of the Year

January 22nd, 2013

Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Small Batch, 55.7%, $90

The Four Roses distillery is unique in that they use five different yeast strains and two mashbills. This allows them to make ten completely different bourbons, which they definitely are doing.2012SmallBatchFront

It’s been great fun, as a whiskey enthusiast, tasting and comparing the different types of whiskey that Four Roses produces. They have been very open about their coding system, which explains the yeast strains and mashbills used to make a given bourbon; quite often putting this information right on the bottle. That’s what they’ve done with this release.

By blending these ten different whiskeys together, master distiller Jim Rutledge has the potential to create a great, complex bourbon. This particular bottling is a marriage of four different bourbons ranging from 11 to 17 years old (one 17 year old whiskey, two 12 year olds, and an 11 year old).

This, to me, is benchmark Four Roses: subtly complex, vibrant, yet fully matured, with well-defined flavors of bramble, dry citrus, soft creamy vanilla, caramel, marzipan, allspice, a hint of cinnamon, and subtle cedar-aged cigar tobacco. It’s soft and clean, with a polished oak finish.

It’s also a very versatile bourbon and should accommodate most situations and moods. Like I said in my original review of this whiskey: your decision shouldn’t be whether to buy it, but rather how much water to add.  —John Hansell

Tomorrow, the Canadian Whisky of the Year will be announced.

11 Responses to “Whisky Advocate’s 19th Annual Award: American Whiskey of the Year”

  1. Marc from Ann Arbor says:

    Bravo! This would be the whiskey I would put in a time capsule so that future civilizations can learn about … and enjoy … great American whiskey from the early part of third millennium here on Earth.

  2. John Hansell says:

    The best Four Roses bourbon I ever tasted. (And I’ve tasted quite a few.)

    My wife never drank bourbon until she tasted this whiskey five days ago. She’s had it every night since. It made her a bourbon drinker. That’s saying something.

    • Marc from Ann Arbor says:


      Sounds like it is time to buy your wife a subscription to Whisky Advocate! 😉


  3. Vince says:

    John, I couldnt agree more! One of the truly great bourbons that I have enjoyed!

  4. Tim Read says:

    Total no-brainer. 4R took this in a walk. Fantastic whiskey.

  5. David says:

    If there are any other awards to be given, they should go to this whiskey. My only regret with this bottle is how easy it is to drink and I that my local store is sold out. Perfectly crafted and balanced. Looking forward to what Four Roses have in store for 2013. Hope they continue to improve!

  6. William says:

    Great choice. My only regret is that I only purchased 1 when I had the chance to buy 2

  7. Sean says:

    Easy choice and not a more deserving man or company to be found. How much longer can Four Roses fly under the radar with award after award coming their way? At least for a little while I hope, selfishly.

  8. Tom D says:

    Come on. Can’t you pick something completely obscure so every one complains again and the thread is 300 posts about everything except the juice in the bottle? Two days in a row without a fight or complaint.

    Just kidding. A well deserved choice and still available here and there. Four Roses really seems to be firing on all cylinders.

  9. Jim Linder says:

    This bottling is absolutely the best! I immediately went back to the store and bought every bottle they had. When I opened the next bottle I thought wtf, It was thin and none of the complexity and flavors of the first bottle. I looked at the label and realized that they had restocked with the 2010. Let’s hope the 2013 follows the 2012 lead.

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