Four Roses Distillery Enjoys New Lease On Life

on 08/12/10 at 1:18 pm

Imagine you are a young man with a passion for chemistry. You’ve loved it ever since you first combined baking soda and vinegar in an empty soda bottle. As you grew older, learning about the noble gases inspired you; the letters on the periodic table — Mg, Be, Ag — became as potent symbols of life’s mysteries as AAPL (Apple) and WMT (Wal-Mart) are to finance majors.It’s 2005. Brent Elliott, a University of Kentucky graduate with a degree in chemistry, is working down in the land of Tennessee whiskey. He’s browsing jobs online when suddenly he sees a posting by Four Roses Distillery that sounds too good to be true. It was looking for someone to perform quality control.

“I jumped on it,” says Elliott. “I’d always been a fan of bourbon. On the way to the interview, I stopped in Bowling Green to sample Four Roses.” And the verdict? “I thought it was the best bourbon I’d ever tasted.”
If the name Four Roses doesn’t immediately bring to mind top-quality bourbon, it just means you haven’t heard about the brand’s resurgence during the past decade. But that’s OK because the people who work at the picturesque 100-year-old distillery on the banks of the Salt River outside Lawrenceburg are proud of their products and the care that goes into them, and happy to explain what sets them apart.
In the first half of the 20th century, Four Roses was one of the best-selling bourbons in America. But in the second half of the century, under Seagram’s ownership, all Four Roses bourbon was marketed exclusively overseas. In America, the label was used on mediocre blended whiskey. But since 2002, when it was bought by Kirin Brewery Co., the distillery has been focused solely on making premium bourbon for the U.S. and overseas markets. Whisky magazine recently named Four Roses the 2011 “Icons of Whisky America” Distiller of the Year.

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