On the banks of the Salt River, nestled in the quiet Kentucky countryside near Lawrenceburg, Four Roses Distillery is a testament to American ingenuity and perseverance. Built in 1910 to resemble the architecture of California wineries, the distillery — now listed on the National Register of Historic Places — was one of six distilleries that was granted permission to operate during Prohibition in order to produce medicinal bourbon.
Following Prohibition, Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon became the top-selling bourbon in the United States. In 1943, Seagram's bought the distillery and a decade later, discontinued the sale of Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon. In 2002, the distillery changed hands again, and the new owner brought a renewed sense of purpose and vigor to Four Roses.
Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is made from a blend of four different Kentucky bourbons, each distilled at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg. Two of the bourbons are comprised of a mash of 60% corn, 35% rye and 5% malted barley, while the other two bourbons are comprised of a mash of 75% corn, 20% rye and 5% malted barley. Each of the bourbons is fermented with a unique, proprietary yeast culture used to bring about a specific flavor in the bourbon. "We do things differently," said Jim Rutledge, Four Roses' former master distiller - Whisky Magazine's Hall of Famer.
After distillation, each bourbon is aged for a minimum of four years at a one-story rickhouse maintained near the distillery. While most distilleries age bourbon in warehouses that are many stories high, Four Roses ages its bourbon in a one-story warehouse to ensure that each barrel is aged in a similar environment. After aging, the barrels are hand-selected and then blended together in order to create Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon.
The high rye content in two of the bourbons results in a rich, spicy flavor and contributes notes of nutmeg and cinnamon. In addition, the high corn content in the remaining two bourbons results in a lighter, fruitier flavor that balances out the spiciness with notes of maple syrup and caramel.
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