Four Roses Yellow Label
Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon is the distillery's entry level whiskey. It is 80 proof, carries no age statement (believed to contain 6.5 year old bourbon), and is a blend of all ten of their unique recipes (two distinct mash bills and five varieties of yeast). We've previously reviewed Four Roses Single Barrel and Four Roses Small Batch, two of the best, most reliable bourbons on the shelf. Some of the private selection Single Barrel bourbons have turned me into a legitimate Four Roses junkie.
The distillery, now owned by Japanese beer giant Kirin, is certainly enjoying the bourbon renaissance. When master distiller Jim Rutledge was hired in 1995, former owner Seagrams was considering closing the distllery. Quality had dropped severely. Demand was so low that the product wasn't even available on American shelves for a time. As my friend Scott Kingsbury recently told me, "When I was a young lad of about 16, I had a job at a local liquor store. In those days, the hardcore drunks that camped out on our front doorstep for our 6:30 a.m. opening used to drink Four Roses."
Today, thanks to Jim Rutledge and the success of the single barrel offering, sales have exploded and the distillery is at full capacity. Kirin will spend $55 million dollars on a second column still and new warehouses. By 2018, Four Roses will be filling 211,000 barrels a year.
Interesting note on the brand name: Four Roses espouses a romantic tale that "founder" Paul L. Jones, Jr. named the brand after proposing to a southern belle who wore a four rose corsage to a grand ball to indicate that her answer was "yes." However, Paul Jones never even married. We believe that Rufus M. Rose, the founder of R.M. Rose Distilling Company (which was sold to Joseph Seagram in 1913), is responsible for the name. Rose ran his distillery with his brother Origen Rose. When Rufus and Origen brought their sons into the mix, they developed the name "four Roses." There is evidence to refute that story too (the fact that Jones was the first to trademark the name Four Roses), but regardless of how the brand got its name, Four Roses is a cornerstone of the bourbon industry. I've been meaning to review the Yellow Label for a while, and here it is!
Four Roses Yellow Label
$22 at ABC in Columbia, SC
Color: Classic medium amber.
Nose: Fruity with prickling spice and barrel char. I get orange peel, honey, corn, Hershey's chocolate powder, allspice, rye bread, and light oak.
Tasting Notes: Fresh fruit, like ripe apple. Rye, black pepper, lemon zest, oak, and cinnamon spice. The body is on the thin side and the finish is a bit raw- not bad for bottom shelf bourbon though.