Four Roses

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Four Roses Bourbon whiskey
Four Roses.JPG
Four Roses Yellow Label
TypeBourbon whiskey
ManufacturerKirin Brewery Company
Country of originKentucky, United States
Alcohol by volume40.00%
Proof (US)80

Four Roses is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey brand owned by the Kirin Brewery Company of Japan. Effective September 1, 2015, Brent Elliott is the master distiller of Four Roses.


The historical origin of the brand is not entirely clear. By some accounts, the brand was founded by Rufus Mathewson Rose and was probably named in honor of him, his brother Origen, and their two sons.[1] However, several different stories have been told about the name's origin.[2] Owner Kirin Brewery does not mention Rufus M. Rose in its version of the history, and refers instead to Paul Jones Jr. as the founder of the brand.[2][3] The company says the brand name was trademarked in 1888 by Jones, who claimed it had been produced and sold as early as the 1860s.[3] The Lawrenceburg, Kentucky distillery was built in 1910 in Spanish Mission-style architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[4]

The brand was purchased by Seagram in 1943. Around the end of the 1950s, Seagram discontinued the sale of Four Roses bourbon within the United States in order to focus on sales of blended whiskey, although it introduced other brands of straight bourbons in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Benchmark and Eagle Rare.[5] Four Roses Kentucky straight bourbon marketing was shifted to Europe and Asia, which were rapidly growing markets at the time. In the United States during this period, the Four Roses name was used on a blended whiskey, made mostly of neutral grain spirits and commonly seen as a sub-par "rotgut" brand.[6][7] Four Roses continued to be unavailable as a straight bourbon in the US market for more than forty years until the brand ownership changed in 2002 after Seagram was purchased by Vivendi. That company then sold most of its brands to Diageo, which sold the Four Roses brand to Kirin, who discontinued the sale of blended whiskey to focus exclusively on Four Roses Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.[5]


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.

  • 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

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 November 5, 2015.
  2. ^ a b John Lipman. "American Whiskey: A Visit to the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky". Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Four Roses Bourbon History page on Four Roses brand website.
  4. ^ National Park Service (July 9, 2010). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Four Roses official FAQ page
  6. ^ Clay Risen, Whiskey's Best Kept Secret, The Atlantic, 7 May 2009.
  7. ^ Jason Pyle, The Four Roses Story, Sour Mash Manifesto, 15 February 2011.
  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]