Whisky Magazine's 2012 Distillery of the Year
Four Roses Distillery is 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, although it is somewhat unclear, as several different stories have been told about where the name Four Roses comes from.
Four Roses 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, 1940s and 1950s.
Around the end of the 1950s, despite the popularity of the brand, Seagram decided to discontinue the sale of Four Roses Bourbon (and all other straight Bourbons) within the U.S., in order to focus on sales of blended whiskey there. 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.
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. 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.
The Lawrenceburg, Kentucky distillery was built in 1910 in Spanish Mission-style architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Four Roses Mash Bills:
Four Roses uses 2 different mashbills and 5 different yeast strains to create 10 unique bourbon recipes. The first letter is always O and designates the production facility, Four Roses Distillery. The second letter designates the mashbill which can be E (75% corn, 20% rye, 5% malted barley) or B (60% corn, 35% rye, 5% malted barley). The third letter is always S and designates the whiskey distillation, straight whiskey. The fourth letter designates the yeast strain, which can be V (delicate fruit), K (slight spice), O (rich fruit), Q (floral essence), or F (herbal notes).