Friday, September 6, 2013

Four Roses Distillery-Kentucky

Another trip down the bourbon trail and I can't say that I mind.  The latest visit was to Four Roses Distillery which resides in Lawrenceburg, KY.  Their product has a unique taste and flavor although they, of course, adhere to the normal laws for creating bourbon.  All bourbon must be distilled in new, charred, oak barrels and be distilled from a mash which is at least 51 % corn.  When bourbon leaves the still it must be no more than 160 proof and when it enters the barrel it cannot be higher than 125 proof.  All bourbons must be at least 80 proof in the bottle.

Four Roses has their own twist on this traditional process.  They have 10 distinct bourbon recipes and 5 proprietary strains of yeast which they use to create their signature flavors.  All of their bourbon ages for at least 5 years. The other key difference at Four Roses is in how they age their barrels. While most distilleries age their barrels in tall warehouses, Four Roses uses only single level warehouses.  In multilevel warehouses the barrels must be rotated since the temperature at the top and bottom of the warehouses creates different flavors of bourbon.  Four Roses prides itself on having barrels that do not need to be rotated, thus ensuring a greater consistency of flavor.

The tour at Four Roses was one of the best I have completed by far, as guests actually get to ascend the warehouse floor and look right down into the stills of bourbon as well as the tanks of mash.  It really feels like you are part of the process.  Additionally, both the tour and the tasting at this distillery are free!  And although, Four Roses does not have the innate Kentucky beauty that is found when visiting Woodford Reserve, it does have a lot of charm, since the buildings were designed with Spanish architecture and are immaculate.

In the tasting session, guests have the opportunity to taste Four Roses Yellow Label, Four Roses Small Batch, and Four Roses Single Barrel.  The nose of the Yellow label is fruity and spicy and the taste has mellow notes of apple.  The Small Batch bourbon also smells spicy and fruity but has a much creamier and smoother taste than the Yellow Label.  

The Single Barrel is the finest bourbon with a nose smelling fruity and earthy and a taste of caramel and mahogany wood.  This bourbon is exceptionally smooth.  The Single Barrel comes only from one recipe of bourbon and as the name implies, comes out of one barrel.  The Small Batch bourbon is created from 5 distinct recipes while the Yellow Label is a blend of 10.  Like with any bourbon, the flavors from barrel to barrel vary greatly even within one distillery.  So a Single Barrel recipe always has a unique and pronounced flavor with its own character.
Bourbon mash with yeast added

Four Roses is a thriving distillery in Kentucky today and they welcome visitors.  The drive is about 40-50 minutes from Louisville and definitely worth the trip.  (The bourbon is worth the trip too) Bottoms up!

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