Skip to main content

Behind the Scenes with Four Roses Bourbon

Four-Roses-Bourbon
Image used with permission by copyright holder
There was a time, in the long, long ago (read: Pre-2002, when Nickelback was still rocking the top of the charts, if you can believe that), that Four Roses wasn’t making the bourbon we know and love today. It might seem weird, when Four Roses Yellow Label, Small Batch, and Single Barrel can be found on liquor shelves in every state in the union, but it’s true. Since 2002, though, the company has been producing some of the best bourbon around. The Manual was recently invited up to check out the warehousing and bottling facility as well as meet up with Brent Elliott, Master Distiller at Four Roses, for a tour of the Lawrenceburg distillery.  

Four Roses Charity Cocktail Competition, Louisville

IMG_3796
Image used with permission by copyright holder

On our first night in town, we were treated to the Louisville leg of the Four Roses Charity Cocktail Competition, where the best bartenders in cities across the nation compete for the title, all the while raising money for a specific charity. This year, $500 will be donated to the Folded Flag Foundation after each event. The winners of the events will meet in New Orleans for the finals and a chance at $2,500. The competition in Bourbon country was stiff, but victory was awarded to Kelsey Hoffman of Rye on Market for her cocktail, Flower Power, with utilized fresh herbs taken from the restaurant’s garden.

IMG_3826
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Flower Power

  • 2 oz. Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon
  • 75 oz. Lime Juice
  • 5 oz. Orange Juice
  • 75 oz. of Simple Syrup
  • 3 Drops of Orange Flower Water
  • 7 Sage Leaf Flowers
  • 5 Anise Hyssop Leaves

Method: Build all ingredients (except one Hyssop leaf and a few flowers) in a Cocktail Shaker. Shake until diluted. Then single strain over rocks into a Highball Glass. Garnish with remaining Anise Hyssop leaf and flowers.

Related: Best Whiskies Under $20

Warehouse and Bottling Facilities, Cox’s Creek

IMG_3858
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We started the next morning in Cox’s Creek to tour the Warehouse and Bottling facilities. Shown around by Al Young, Four Roses’ Brand Ambassador and Historian—who is on the cusp of celebrating fifty years with the company—we learned that Four Roses is the only distillery that uses single-story rack warehouses so as to minimize temperature changes between top and bottom racks which, in the summer and winter months, can vary greatly. This helps, Young explained, with consistency of flavor and aroma during the aging process.

IMG_3867
Image used with permission by copyright holder

From there, we moved onto the bottling facility. Here, we saw the bottling line, as well as the (more important, in our opinion) filling and opening of barrels. We had to restrain ourselves so as to not just put our mouths under the open barrels. Because we thought about it. A lot.

IMG_3870
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Next, we were treated to a private barrel tasting, with Young taking us through the ten different profiles used to create Four Roses bourbons. Each profile uses one of two mash bills as well as one of five proprietary yeast strains. If you’ve never tasted something out of the barrel, this is The Manual telling you to do so. Find a distillery and offer yourself as tribute, if you need to. This is an experience unlike any other for a lover of whiskey. Tasting from the barrel is the completely less awkward equivalent of speed dating—you get all of the characteristics of a certain whiskey in a short amount of time, finding out its potential with a mere swish of the tongue and a swallow. There’s no adulteration of any kind before it hits the market. In short, it’s what master distillers across the world are doing to figure out what should be going on the market.

IMG_3876
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We weren’t done at the facility, though, as Young led us to their still-in-construction newer facility, where we got to see bottles of the brand new Elliott’s Select (more of that soon) being hand-numbered, but also these behemoth tanks, each capable of holding 28,000 wine gallons (we know it’s bourbon, but that’s the industry standard measurement) of bourbon. Think about that. 28,000 gallons of bourbon. And there are six of them.

IMG_3874There’s a lot of Four Roses in our future, and that is a beautiful thing.

Four Roses Distillery, Lawrenceburg

Our final stop was the Pièce De Résistance, the distillery itself. We were met by Brent Elliott, Master Distiller, and taken on a tour of the facility.

IMG_3890
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Having gotten his start in the company over a decade ago, working on the analysis side of things, he worked closely with former Master Distiller Jim Rutledge, honing his taste buds, nose, and knowledge of bourbon. He took over in September 2015, after Rutledge stepped down after over forty-five years with the company.

IMG_3897
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We’ll be honest. The tour was great. We got to ask a ton of questions and Elliott answered all of them, but the real treat was after the tour itself was over. Elliott took us into his tasting lab to sample some of the wares, including the not-yet-on-shelves Elliott’s Select.

IMG_3879
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Elliott’s Select is, in short, a masterpiece. When it goes live at the end of June, you will want to hunt this down. Fourteen years old, this single barrel bourbon has a subtle oaky aroma that plays wonderfully with what could be described as peach jam—sweet, fruity, and pleasant.

The taste doesn’t vary much from what you smell—again, stone fruits mingling with honey and delicately spiced vanilla. The bourbon maintains a lightness that practically slides down your throat before you know it. It’s light, but it stays with you. The warmth that comes from good whiskey lingers after you’ve swallowed.

And, really, there’s no way to follow up tasting a bourbon with the person who hand-selected the barrels that went into it, so we won’t.

There will be roughly 8,000 bottles of Elliott’s Select distributed nationwide for around $125, so get it while you can. You do not want to miss out on this.

Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
Best Blackstone Prime Day deals
A man using the Blackstone 36-inch Gas Griddle Cooking Station in a yard.

If you're going to grill the steak of your dreams you're going to need the perfect grill, and Blackstone grills are offering up some savings among all of the Prime Day deals going on. We've made our selection for the best Prime Day Blackstone grill deal, and we've tracked down some other selections that offer some great savings. Read onward for a look at the best Prime Day Blackstone deals going on right now, and make a purchase quickly if you see something you like. Prime Day deals are known to end abruptly and inventories are likely starting to run low.
Best Blackstone grill Prime Day deal
Blackstone Adventure Ready 2-Burner 22-inch Propane Griddle -- $124, was $147

If you’re keen to cook outdoors more but you’re also planning on traveling a lot, you need the Blackstone Adventure Ready 2-Burner 22-inch Propane Griddle. It’ll work well in your yard, but it’s also portable enough that you can take it with you while you camp and travel on many different adventures, hence the name "adventure ready."

Read more
French cuisine guide: Everything you need to know
French food is popular all over the world, let us guide you through the world of French cuisine
Rustic style dinner with cheese platter

 

France is the pinnacle of culinary romance and gastronomical luxury, renowned for its sophistication and simplicity. From the haute cuisine of Paris to the fruits de mer from the Mediterranean Sea, the effortless elegance of French cuisine comes from a few essential ingredients and time-honored techniques that have influenced most of the culinary styles we use today.

Read more
Prime Day coffee machine deals: Ninja Espresso is $70 off
americano coffee

Drinking French-pressed coffee first thing in the morning can be an excellent start to the day, but it can also be an expensive one. Prime Day deals are out and about right now to help with that, and among them are some great Prime Day coffee maker deals. Some of the best drip coffee makers are part of the Prime Day festivities. But whatever your coffee maker brand or price point may be, we've tracked down all of the best Prime Day coffee maker deals for your consideration. You'll find some impressive savings among them, so if you see something you like be sure to grab it while you can. Prime Day deals are known to suddenly disappear and inventories could be starting to run low.
Best coffee maker Prime Day deal
Ninja Espresso & Coffee Barista System -- $180, was $250

Ninja is a big name in the small appliance world, and while you may think of it when it comes to air fryers, it also makes fantastic coffee with the Ninja Espresso & Coffee Barista System. The system is designed to do everything you could want. It’s able to brew more than just a standard espresso shot as it offers four distinct styles. You can brew a 40ml standard shot but then move up to a Lungo for a larger and less concentrated shot of 110ml while there’s an espresso shot over ice, and the exclusive Ristretto which is 25ml so you get a much more concentrated shot.

Read more