Four Roses Original (Yellow Label) 40% 70cl
One of the oldest Bourbon brands around, Four Roses dates back to a trademarking in 1888, although it is said a whiskey of that name was sold from before the 1860s. Legend has it that it is named after a founder, Rufus Mathewson Rose, his brother Origen, and their two sons. However other sources have a Paul Jones Jr as the founder.
Regardless, a distillery was built in 1910 in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky to produce Four Roses, although it was originally named the Old Prentice Distillery - a stunning building in Spanish Mission-style architecture, the distillery is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.
Purchased by drinks giant Seagram in 1943, for nearly 40 years Four Roses wasn't actually available as a straight Bourbon - instead being a brand name for blended whiskies - until it was eventually 'relaunched' in 1994. Eventually bought by the Japanese Kirin Brewery in 2002, Four Roses was refocussed into a Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Previously known as the 'Yellow Label' (and for which I will always call it) - Four Roses Original is aged for a minimum of 4 years, but it is thought an average of 5 to 6 years is used in blending. The mashbill itself is actually a combination of 10 different 'recipes' - 2 mashbills of 60% corn/35% rye/5% barley and 75% corn/20% rye/5% barley are combined with 5 different yeast strains.
Possibly one of the easiest drinking Bourbon whiskies available, Four Roses Original gets a bad reputation almost because it is so light. There is complexity and depth to be found, you just have to go looking for it as nothing is particularly 'big' or in your face. It's ideal for cocktails, although perhaps not one where the whiskey needs to be upfront such as an Old Fashioned. In a Mint Julep though - now we're talking!
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