Brent’s Pick: Small Batch vs. Small Batch Select
blog | 04/06/2020
As you know, we recently announced that Small Batch Select will be expanding to more than a dozen new states this year. Launched last year as our distillery’s first permanent product-line extension in more than a decade, the non-chill filtered and 104 proof Bourbon had previously been available in just five states.
New markets where Small Batch Select will be available now and in the coming months include Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin. These will join our home state of Kentucky, along with New York, California, Texas and Georgia where Small Batch Select is currently available.
Small Batch Select was our distillery’s first permanent product-line extension since 2006, and crafting its unique flavor profile is my proudest contribution to the storied history of our 132-year-old brand since I became master distiller in 2015. At the end of 2019, the noted international media outlet Whisky Advocate rated Small Batch Select No. 3 in its Top 20 Whiskies of 2019 list, and it was the highest ranked bourbon on the list.
I want to take some time to compare Small Batch and Small Batch Select. So, I welcome you to sit back while we answer some common questions I’ve received about the two products.
What are some of the key differentiators between Small Batch and Small Batch Select?
Both of these Bourbons—each a combination of six and seven-year-old barrels—are balanced, mellow and complex. However, I’d say that Small Batch is fruitier, with a rounded, mellow mouth feel. Small Batch Select is defined by a unique, clove-like flavor and is a little denser in flavor.
Small Batch and Small Batch Select are as different as any two Bourbons from our distillery. We were so happy for the opportunity to add Select to our permanent profile of bourbons. The product showcases some of our bourbon recipes and flavors that aren’t as forward facing in the rest of our lineup of Single Barrel, Small Batch and Four Roses Bourbon.
Can you walk through the Bourbon recipes that were hand-selected for each product?
As you know, the combination of our two mashbills and five proprietary yeast strains produces 10 distinct Bourbon recipes. Four of these Bourbon recipes are mingled to create Small Batch, and six for Small Batch Select.
Balance is important in every one of our products. Small Batch is a balance between the O and K yeast strains. The spicy K strain is a larger percentage, but the O strain creates such a rich, fruity flavor that, to me, it has more impact on the overall character.
In Small Batch Select, the percentage of OBSV is higher than any other recipe. Next comes the F yeast strain. We had never used this yeast strain in any product outside of Four Roses Bourbon (5%), Private Barrel Selections and a few Limited Editions, so I was excited to include it in Small Batch Select and show off its defined characteristics in a permanent product. The F strain is one-dimensional on the nose at younger ages, but becomes more complex as the Bourbon ages. It just takes a little bit to go a long way in a blend. Small Batch Select has around 30% of the F strain. When F is combined with the V yeast strain, we get some really unique flavors—fruit plus mint to make something totally different.
Are there defining flavor profiles you get when tasting Small Batch vs. Small Batch Select?
Small Batch: Ripe fruit, maraschino cherry, nutmeg
Small Batch Select: Clove, mint, pear, cinnamon
What is your ideal way to drink each product?
I typically enjoy both of them neat. Occasionally I will add a cube of ice. With ice, you can taste the flavors unfold as the cube melts and the Bourbon is slowly diluted.
From time to time, I use Small Batch in Old Fashioneds when I make them at home. That’s pretty much the only cocktail I ever make.
Which do you choose to drink more often?
Since Small Batch Select was released, I probably drink more of it that than our other products. That may just be because it is new and different. Prior to that, I would say that Small Batch was my most often go-to Bourbon. Small Batch is a perfect go-to for many reasons—it’s great neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail.