Updated May 6, 2016
By Richard Thomas
Four Roses Kentucky bourbon traces its history back to Rufus and Origen Rose, two brothers joined with their sons to open a family distillery in 1888. The Four Roses Distillery settled in 1910 into the Spanish Mission-style building outside Lawrenceburg, Kentucky which has remained its home ever since, and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
In modern times, Four Roses was the neglected property of Seagrams, who made the dubious choice to ship the flagship Four Roses Bourbon to Japan and convert the brand’s strong American presence into a rotgut blended whiskey. Several years ago Four Roses was acquired by Kirin Brewery, a Japanese beer company, and under new ownership began a comeback. Under the stewardship of Kirin, longtime Four Roses man Jim Rutledge was able to spearhead the revival of the brand and its reputation.
Four Roses is noted among bourbon fans as the distillery that, via tinkering with the mashbills and yeasts used, ten separate bourbon recipes. Yellow Label, their mass-market standard, is a blend of all of them.
The bourbon has a clear, gentle nose, smelling of an apple pie with plenty of cinnamon. The palate of Four Roses Yellow Label is light, but flavorful, very flavorful for an 80 proof whiskey. It carries a pleasant mix of honey and vanilla, and the whiskey finishes with such a strong overtone of citrus that the drinker might miss the hints of wood and charcoal.
Addendum By Debbie Shocair
Aroma: Citrus, caramel, vanilla
After breaking it with ½ tsp water, notes merged, becoming more like vanilla custard. The mouthfeel was fairly gentle, mostly at the tip of the tongue.
Finish: Short, Spicy, and a bit acerbic at the back of the palate.
Four Roses sits at the low, cheap end of the whiskey spectrum, and is usually priced at $20 a bottle in the United States.