Four Roses

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Four Roses Bourbon whiskey
Four Roses.JPG
Four Roses Yellow Label
Type Bourbon whiskey
Manufacturer Kirin Brewery Company
Country of origin Kentucky, United States
Introduced 1888
Alcohol by volume 40.00%
Proof 80

Four Roses is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey brand owned by the Kirin Brewery Company of Japan. The brand was established in 1888. The trademark was probably named for company founder Rufus Mathewson Rose, his brother Origen, and their two sons,[1] although it is somewhat unclear, as several different stories have been told about where the name Four Roses comes from.[2] The Lawrenceburg, Kentucky distillery was built in 1910 in Spanish Mission-style architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3]


The brand was originally introduced by the Frankfort Distilling Co., and was purchased by Seagram in 1943. It was the top selling brand of Bourbon in the United States in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.[4] Around the end of the 1950s, despite the popularity of the brand, Seagram decided to discontinue the sale of Four Roses Bourbon within the U.S., in order to focus on sales of blended whiskey there (although they introduced other brands of straight bourbons in the 1960s and 70s, such as Benchmark and Eagle Rare).[4] Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon marketing was shifted to Europe and Asia, which were rapidly growing markets at the time. In these markets, it became the top selling Bourbon.[4] However, in the U.S. during this period, the Four Roses brand name was used on a blended whiskey, made mostly of neutral grain spirits and commonly seen as a sub-par "rotgut" brand.[5][6] Four Roses continued to be unavailable as a straight Bourbon in the U.S. market for more than forty years – until the brand ownership changed again in 2002 after Seagram was purchased by Vivendi, and then sold most of its brands to Diageo, which sold the Four Roses brand to Kirin. Its new owner (Kirin) discontinued the sale of blended whiskey to focus exclusively on Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.[4]

The master distiller for Four Roses has been Jim Rutledge since 1995.[7]


Four Roses distills ten separate bourbons using two mash recipes and five yeast strains. From combining these ten bourbons the Four Roses distillery creates the standard "yellow label" expression. Single Barrel is made with only one of those ten bourbons. The others are made with combinations of two or more of the ten. They are:

  • Four Roses Yellow Label 80°: Sold in U.S., Europe, and Japan
  • Four Roses Small Batch 90°: Sold in U.S., Europe, and Japan
  • Four Roses Single Barrel 100°: Sold in U.S., Europe, and Japan
  • Four Roses Single Barrel 86°: Sold only in Europe
  • Four Roses Super Premium 86°: Sold only in Japan
  • Four Roses Black Label 80°: Sold only in Japan
  • Four Roses Mariage Collection 100°: Introduced in 2008 (produced only seasonally)
Four Roses Small Batch, 90 proof Bourbon

Special and limited edition releases[edit]

In September 2007, Four Roses released a limited edition barrel proof bottle celebrating master distiller Jim Rutledge's 40 years in the industry. This release was limited to 1,442 bottles, and was unfiltered and uncut. Each bottle was hand numbered in gold paint and labeled detailing the barrel number, warehouse number, and percent of alcohol by volume for that barrel. Because this was a barrel strength release, alcohol content ranged between roughly 98 and 110 proof.

Following the success of the 40th Anniversary bottle, Four Roses released another limited edition bottle celebrating the 120th anniversary of the trademark of the Four Roses name. This release was scheduled for May 2008, and consisted of approximately 2,238 commemorative bottles. The age of the whiskey will be approximately 12 years, and will also be uncut and unfiltered. Alcohol content will range between roughly 103 and 116 proof.[8]

During the September 2008 Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Four Roses announced the release of the 2008 Four Roses Mariage Collection. With barrels selected by the master distiller, the limited-edition small batch bourbon marries two separate flavors (aged approximately 10 and 13 years respectively) of Four Roses in a barrel proof release of about 3,500 bottles. This release is scheduled to be the first of a series of small batch releases.[9]



  1. ^ Atlanta Urban Design Commission. "Rufus M. Rose House". Retrieved July 27, 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ John Lipman. "American Whiskey: A Visit to the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky". Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d Four Roses official FAQ page
  5. ^ Clay Risen, Whiskey's Best Kept Secret, The Atlantic, 7 May 2009.
  6. ^ Jason Pyle, The Four Roses Story, Sour Mash Manifesto, 15 Feb. 2011.
  7. ^ The Master Distiller, official website.
  8. ^ "Four Roses Celebrates 120 Years with Limited Edition Bourbon". 
  9. ^ Four Roses Recipes 'Tie the Knot' for Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon

External links[edit]