September 2019: Four Roses

(Four) Four Roses 

The Four Roses Distillery was technically opened in 2002. But, it has a much longer history than that, just by different names.

The Four Roses Distillery’s roots trace all the way back to 1818, as the “Old Joe” Distillery. The distillery changed hands many times leading up to Prohibition, as it produced “Old Joe” and “Old Prentice” out of the Anderson County distillery. 

Following the repeal of Prohibition, the refurbished distillery was sold to the National Distillers Company, which in 1946 sold it to Calvert Distilling Co., or better known today as “Seagrams.” 

Four Roses was being sold at that time, though the product was mostly shipped overseas and not viewed in America as a premium whiskey.

Then, along came an employee at Seagrams named Jim Rutledge. In 1995, Rutledge, who worked closely with the Seagrams Lawrenceburg, Indiana, plant (now known as MGP), purposed to improve the quality of Four Roses. Through research and development at Seagrams focusing on isolating proprietary yeast strains, Rutledge found the key to what makes Four Roses the premium bourbon it is today.

Coming full circle, in 2002, Four Roses was purchased by its current owner, Kirin, which officially named the distillery Four Roses. Rutledge left his post as Master Distiller in 2015, handing the baton to the able Brent Elliot.

This tasting event, hosted by Jamie Baalman, featured several Four Roses bourbons, including one sold exclusively outside the United States. For more of our Four Roses reviews, check out the following links:

Four Roses OBSF vs. OESF

Four Roses OBSQ vs. OESQ

Four Roses Small Batch Select

Four Roses Private Selections 

Four Roses 2018 Limited Edition 130th Anniversary

Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary Limited Edition

Cocktail: Old Fashioned Chocolate Rose

Ingredients: 2 oz Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, 1 bar spoon gum syrup, 1 Luxardo Cherry, 1 drop of Fee Brothers Chocolate Bitters, 1 dash of Angostura Bitters, 1 Orange peel squeezed

Recipe: Add all ingredients to rocks glass stir and enjoy


Bottle 1: Four Roses Super Premium

Proof: 86

Mash Bill: Blend of 75/20/5 and 60/35/5

Price: $70.00 plus a trip to Japan

Purchase location: Amazon.co.JP Japan only

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Funk, black cherry, tree bark, vanilla syrup, fig, black licorice.

Palate:  Black cherry, fresh cut oak.

Finish:  Medium length.  Cherry cough syrup.  

Why this bottle is featured: This is released exclusively in Japan and rumored to be a different blend than what is available in the U.S., with 20% over 10 years and 80% over 8 years. 


Bottle 2: Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection 

Proof: 100

Mash Bill: 60/35/5

Price: $45.00

Purchase location: Bill’s Package Store,TN

Tasting Notes:

Nose:   Cherry, Sonic orange cream slush, rose hips, sage, vanilla.

Palate:  Sugared strawberries, rock candy, gobstoppers, vanilla.

Finish:  Extra creamy.  Fresh caramel, red fruit, rock candy.

Why this bottle is featured: A different take on a standard single barrel offered by Four Roses. This one totes the high rye mash bill. 


Bottle 3: Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection 

Proof: 115.2

Mash Bill: OESK  75/20/5

Price: $77.00

Purchase location: Lincoln Road Package Store MS

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Custard, Himalayan salt, nutmeg, pralines, coconut, sugar.

Palate:  Red Hots, custard, stone fruit, juicy fruit gum.

Finish:  A little cinnamon returns, honey, vanilla Dr. Pepper, Twizzlers.  

Why this bottle is featured: These store picks are an exciting opportunity to taste different mashbills and yeast strains at barrel strength. This one totes the lower rye mash bill and the “K” yeast strain. 


Bottle 4: Four Roses 2017 Limited Edition Small Batch

Proof: 108

Mash Bill: 15 year OESK, 13 Year OESK, 12 Year OESV

Price: $250

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Toasted oak, brown sugar, maple syrup, sugar daddy candy, Brazil nuts, wet leaves.

Palate: Brown sugar, plums, oak, tobacco.  Creamy and oily.  Mouth coating.  

Finish:  Long.  Clove, light cinnamon, slightly tannic, tobacco.   This one begs for another sip.

Why this bottle is featured: This is in the class of Four Roses’ most premium products. The 2017 is unique in that its blend only included low-rye mash bills. 

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