Bourbon is one of our favorite drinks here at Labeling Men. We only like the very best here and Four Roses Bourbon is the cream of the crop. Interested in not just the taste but how things are actually done gave us a new appreciation for the taste Four Roses is known for. Giving you a #BTS look at just how the process is done, we chatted with Four Roses Bourbon Master Distiller Brent Elliott who answered some of our questions regarding the brand.
What first peaked your interest in distilling Bourbon?
It’s something that I had always been curious about. It appealed to me on so many levels; from the historical and scientific aspects to the simple appreciation of the drink itself. I never seriously considered getting into the industry until I took a tour of a KY Bourbon distillery in 2005. I remember thinking, during the tour, that distilleries surely utilized chemists for the production of Bourbon. I was right. I found a posted laboratory job at Four Roses, applied, interviewed and was hired based on my Chemistry background.
We know you worked with the previous master distiller Jim for ten years, how was it and what was the most valuable lesson he taught you?
The most valuable lesson I learned from Jim is how to treat the consumer. Jim will make time any time to talk to enthusiasts about Four Roses or the industry in general. His passion is contagious and people can feel that.
What about Four Roses sets it apart from the rest?
The short answer is its flavor. The long answer is in explaining how we achieve our delicate, refined flavor. We utilize two mashbills and 5 proprietary yeast strains in the production of our Bourbons. With this combination, we are able to produce 10 distinctly unique recipes. We age each of these recipes independently and, after maturation is complete, mingle them in different formulas to create our different labels. Because we produce our various products this way, each Four Roses product will have its own flavors based on the recipes used to create it. Because we make the extra effort to create distinct, subtle flavors in our Bourbons, we end up with a delicate and refined flavor profile common to all our products.
What does "130 years in the making" mean to you? Does it put extra pressure for you to uphold the reputation of the distillery?
There are more defunct Bourbon brands than anyone could possible name. To be one of the few Bourbons to have survived this long is something to be proud of. 130 years of history creates a sense of “majesty” to the brand that does add an extra sense of responsibility for all of us that are stewards of the brand.
Give us your favorite cocktail to mix Four Roses with?
I like creative cocktails that are balanced, not too sweet, and not overly sour.
What advice would you give novice Bourbon drinkers?
Don’t be intimidated -You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a great Bourbon. Try Bourbon in cocktails, on the rocks, neat, or whatever. There is no wrong way to drink Bourbon.
Aside from Kentucky, which other cities do you find to have the most enthusiasm about Four Roses when you meet them?
I’ve found that cities that have a strong cocktail culture generally have a strong appreciation of Bourbon. The same people who appreciate the craft behind well-made cocktails also appreciate the craft that goes into making Bourbon. And…Bourbon makes great cocktails.
Future plans for Four Roses?
Currently we are in the middle of an expansion project that will ultimately double our production capacity. Our plan is to continue making the same Bourbon that our consumers have come to expect, but to utilize the extra capacity to sustain the unprecedented growth that we’re experiencing.
By Nisim Frank
Pictures provided by Four Roses & PR Team.