Depending on when and where you grew up you may have a completely different impression of Four Roses Bourbon. Being bourbon it was started in the United States and available for a long while.
Then after a sale all of a sudden it wasn’t available in the United States any longer. During those years the only chance you would have to grab a bottle of Four Roses Bourbon would have been in Europe or Asia.
During that time when Four Roses Straight Bourbon Whiskey was only available overseas, another version was introduced in the United States. This time it was a blended whiskey.
What a roller coaster. The Four Roses brand meant something different based on your location.
If you were born in more recent times you may not have known any of this. You just walked into the liquor store or bar and had access to Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey without giving it a second thought.
The great news for Americans is that Four Roses Bourbon is here and it isn’t going away.
A Brief History of Four Roses Bourbon
The story of Four Roses Bourbon starts in Kentucky in the 1800s. In the year 1888 Paul Jones Jr. trademarked the name Four Roses to start selling his bourbon under that name.
How did Paul Jones Jr. settle on Four Roses for the name of his spirit brand?
Having heard the name for so many years now it isn’t particularly noteworthy but at the time naming your bourbon whiskey after a flower may have seemed out of place.
The Four Roses Bourbon name evidently originated from a love story from the founder. The story goes that Paul Jones Jr. proposed marriage to a charming southern woman. He was to know her answer based on how she showed up at the Grand Ball.
If she attended the Grand Ball without any flowers that meant that Paul Jones Jr. would continue his life as a bachelor. If however, she showed up wearing a corsage of roses on her gown wedding bells were to follow.
She showed up with a corsage made of four red roses and the rest is history.
As mentioned above, Four Roses Bourbon has gone through a lot since 1888. They built a distillery in the early 1900s in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. This distillery is still used today and has become a real tourist destination.
It is a Spanish Mission-style building and it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
A few decades after the distillery started production it was purchased by the beverage company Seagram. Seagram made the decision to stop selling Four Roses Straight Bourbon in the US and concentrate on the European and Asian markets.
There were some Four Roses bottles sold in the US during this time but it was actually blended whiskey and not the original Four Roses Bourbon.
Things would change in 2002 when Four Roses was again sold to Japanese-based Kirin Brewery Company Ltd. After the sale Four Roses Bourbon made its triumphant return to the US bourbon market.
So what exactly is bourbon and how is it different from whiskey? Simply put, Bourbon is a subset of whiskey. All bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon.
To be considered bourbon the spirit must be produced in the United States, it must derive from at least 51% corn, and it must be stored and aged in charred oak barrels.
Four Roses Bourbon Prices, Variations & Sizes
Four Roses Bourbon has an extensive line of offerings that can be divided into those with wide distribution and limited edition bottles.
Four Roses make 10 different bourbon recipes and then combines them in the proper percentages to get the desired product.
The four types that comprise the bottles with wide distribution are Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and Four Roses Small Batch Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the most affordable and approachable variety in the collection. This 80 Proof (40 percent alcohol by volume) variation is aged for a minimum of five years.
Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey combines all 10 of their bourbon recipes for this one.
- 750 ml, From $23.99
- 75 L, From $49.99
Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a combination of four of the Four Roses recipes. The result is a 90 Proof (45 percent alcohol by volume) bourbon that has been aged a minimum of six to seven years.
- 750 ml, From $34.99
Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is made from a single barrel as the name states. Single Barrel makes a jump in price, alcohol content, and the number of years aged.
Single Barrel is 100 Proof (50 percent alcohol by volume) and that bourbon is aged for a minimum of seven to nine years.
- 750 ml, From $49.99
Four Roses Small Batch Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a finely handcrafted product. The master distiller hand selects six of the recipes that were each aged for a minimum of six to seven years to produce a 104 Proof (52 percent alcohol by volume) gem.
This is the newest of the standard offerings having been introduced in 2019.
- 750 ml, From $59.99
Four Roses Bourbon also produces some very fine limited edition bourbon. Due to the rarity and scarcity of the bottles, there is a wide range of prices that often fluctuate.
Bottom line, if you see any of these limited edition bottles don’t hesitate to pick one up.
- 2021 LE Small Batch
- 2020 LE Small Batch
- 2019 LE Small Batch
- 2018 130th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch
- 2017 Limited Edition Small Batch
- 2017 Al Young 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch
- 2016 Small Batch
- 2016 Elliott’s Select
Four Roses Bourbon Alternatives and Comparisons
Maker’s Mark Bourbon is a viable alternative to Four Roses Bourbon in that it is almost certainly available wherever you are shopping. It’s also available at a similar price point and has a few different variations.
The difference between Maker’s Mark and Four Roses is that Maker’s Mark does not use rye in the production of their bourbon like Four Roses does. This translates to a sweeter sip without as much spice character.
Bulleit Bourbon is another good comparison to Four Roses in price and availability.
Bulleit Bourbon also uses a high amount of rye in their bourbon which will give a more similar taste profile to Four Roses Bourbon. Bulleit is so into rye that they even make a rye whiskey that isn’t considered a bourbon at all.
Both Maker’s Mark Bourbon and Bulleit Bourbon differ from Four Roses Bourbon in their alcohol percentage. When comparing the standard issue bourbon both the Maker’s Mark and Bulleit Bourbon are 90 Proof as compared to Four Roses Bourbon’s 80 Proof.
How to Drink Four Roses Bourbon
If you’re a bourbon lover you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t drink Four Roses Bourbon neat at least some of the time.
Adding a few drops of water or an ice cube or two allows you to enjoy the pure bourbon with less intensity. If straight bourbon isn’t your thing then mixing your Four Roses with soda or as the base of a cocktail is the way to go.
Four Roses Bourbon’s slightly spicy and sweet flavor lends itself to many applications. Sample your way through the whole Four Roses collection to taste the differences.
FAQ – Four Roses Bourbon
Is Four Roses Bourbon gluten-free?
Yes, distilled spirits like bourbon are gluten-free and Four Roses Bourbon is no different.
The distillation process removes gluten even if the initial ingredients contain gluten. Four Roses Bourbon does not have any flavored varieties but that’s where folks with gluten intolerance need to be extra careful.
Sometimes flavoring added post distillation will contain gluten.
Is Four Roses Bourbon vegan?
Four Roses Bourbon is considered vegan. No animal products are used as ingredients or in the production of Four Roses.
What do you mix with Four Roses Bourbon?
Four Roses Bourbon really makes any cocktail shine. Here are a few favorites:
1 ½ oz Four Roses Small Batch
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Campari
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Stir all the ingredients in a mixing glass and strain over ice into a chilled cocktail glass.
Bourbon in Black
2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
⅓ oz Lavender Tea
⅓ oz Honey
1 oz Blackberry Shrub
3 oz Club Soda
Combine all ingredients. Pour in a rocks glass or cocktail glass over ice and enjoy.
Dazed and Confused
2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1 oz Pineapple Juice
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Agave
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 Shiso Leaf (for Garnish)
Ground Cinnamon (for Garnish)
Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake well and double strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a shiso leaf and cinnamon before serving.