Sour Mash Manifesto

Bourbon and American Whiskey

A Day at Four Roses

A Mighty Fine Monday
****Picture Links Below****

February 7th wasn’t a normal Monday for me. When bourbon awaits, not even a steady, bone chilling rain (that soon turned into two inch flakes of snow) can mess up your mood. By 9:30 a.m. I was sitting out front of Four Roses’ aging and warehousing facility in Cox’s Creek, KY. What a great place to take in the views of twenty aging warehouses holding barrel after barrel of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It may have been a mental thing, but you could almost smell bourbon in the air.

Shortly after arriving, I was joined by Master Distiller, Jim Rutledge. A month or so earlier, Jim had extended an invite to come check out the facilities. Obviously, I jumped at the chance. Jim is responsible for the end quality of amber nectar that bears the Four Roses emblem. As you will see in posts that will follow, he’s responsible for a lot more than just that.

Jim had just returned from a week-long trip to California. As Four Roses’ most prominent brand ambassador, Jim doesn’t pass up a chance to talk about Four Roses Bourbon to anyone that will listen. He quickly tells a story about an event the previous week. “Last week I was asked by event organizers how long I had prepared to speak”, he starts out. “I told them as long as anyone will listen…….. I was serious.”

That point wasn’t lost on me as the day continued. Nearly seven hours later I was still talking whiskey, bourbon, and Four Roses with Jim Rutledge. Two inches of snow and falling temperatures might have been the only reason the conversation ended when it did. It was a hell of a day.

The Week Ahead

Over the next week, Sour Mash Manifesto will be posting content from the visit with Four Roses and Jim Rutledge. With nearly 2 hours of video footage and hundreds of pictures, it’s a tough task to consolidate. Rather than smash things together in 1-2 posts, I’ve broken them down into 4-5 segments for easier viewing.
This was a lot of fun. I truly hope you enjoy it as well.

Four Roses Distillery and Aging/Bottling Facility

Today’s post is focused on a tour of the distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY and the Aging/Bottling facility in Cox’s Creek, KY. I’ve divided them into two Flickr photo sets. Each picture has a caption with a good bit of detail. If you have the time, please take a moment to read the captions. They will help give more context and background on Four Roses operations, the history of the distillery, and the uniqueness and philosophies behind the product.

Click on the “red” link below to check ’em out!

Four Roses Distillery Tour

Four Roses Aging/Bottling Facility


  1. Jason, those pics are making me thirsty. Looks like you had a great day.

  2. Jason, thanks for the great pics – I was able to get a tour of the facilities. I can only imagine the heavenly aromas. It must have been great doing a tasting of FR products with JR. Hey, looking at your pics I came up with a question (I know it’s too late but maybe someone else asked): what is the super premium that they sell in Japan like? Compared to what we get here in the US (Mariage, SBLE, etc.,)?

  3. We visited the Lawrenceburg 4R Distillery this past September when we done the “Bourbon Trail”. We started day 2 at 4R. I felt the people there really love telling us about the distillation process that goes on there.
    We saw the same things you saw, but we didn’t get to go into the lab, nor did we get to hang with Jim. Excellent pictures, and write up. Can’t wait until the rest is posted. thanks for taking the time to post this. Thanks for doing this.

  4. Chimay, it was really a fantastic day indeed. Glad you liked the photos.

  5. Thanks for the comments Snakeman. The folks at Four Roses were great – everyone was very open, generous with their time, and genuinely enjoyed talking about the products and the respective operations in Lawrenceburg and Cox’s Creek. So generous in fact that I came away with so many post ideas that it just made sense to break ’em up in chunks.

    It means a lot that you enjoyed the pics. I had hoped they would come across well.

  6. Junwon, Chris from asked the same question. Jim said the “Super Premium” or “Platinum” as it is know, and “Black” products are all different products from what we have here. Some of the mash bill percentages are flipped around a bit from say the Small Batch that is available in the U.S. They dump the whiskey from the barrel and actually send it over to Kirin, the parent company, for distribution. They handle the bottling and everything over there. They also have a contract with Chivas Brothers for distribution in Europe. All the products available outside the U.S. are not just renamed U.S. products. But both of those available in Japan are small batch bourbons. As far as what they compare to mostly, Jim wouldn’t go there, instead saying (paraphrase), “It’s not easy to compare because it’s a completely different product in terms of the recipes used and percentages from what is sold here.” For the record, that is not an exact quote, but that is essentially what was said over the hum of drills popping bungs and machines filling barrels.

  7. Looking forward to the rest of the segments on your distillery visit. The pictures are great! Thanks for the insightful information on the non-US releases. Interesting to know that the products are actually different, not just the labeling and packaging. Different flavor profiles for different palates?

  8. Thanks Jason. My shopping list for Narita just changed: instead of 4 WT products (I was planning on 2 going and 2 coming back), I’m going to have to include a FR product or 2.

  9. Chris, definitely different flavor profiles to appeal to that market. For all the years that Four Roses had no product on the U.S. shelves (40 some years), they were still producing bourbon and sending to Japan and Europe. I suppose they built a certain preferred flavor profile over there and that has stuck or evolved slightly. I honestly can’t speak well informed about that. Other than to say some of the percentages of the mash bill percentage are flipped some.

    What surprised me most about the visit is understanding that Four Roses is still very much a “baby” when compared to the likes of the other big boys from Bourbon. They’ve grown steadily and consistently, but there’s a hesitancy to do TOO MUCH and dilute themselves. They first introduced the Single Barrel to critical acclaim. Then came the other two (small batch and yellow label). They put out the limited releases to put some new and different things out there, but there’s definitely a “grow steady not quickly” philosophy. One day perhaps we’ll see some of these Japan only releases here and maybe they’ll send others over there, etc. etc.

    It’s interesting stuff. I’d love to try those releases.

  10. thanks for putting the time into this and sharing it with all of us. your presentation is awesome and really puts me there, very nice, thanks!

  11. Incredible set of pix, Jason. Thanks for taking me deeper into Four Rose than I ever thought I’d go. I’ve had days like this myself, and they are never replicated, so enjoy…I appreciate being able to go along for the ride with you. Four Roses Single Barrel is still my favorite!

    All the best!

  12. Wow, Sam, you are very welcome. I had a blast. Thanks to all of you for taking the time out of your day to check out the pics. I had a great time up there and I’m working on some of these next few posts that I hope will provide even more background into Four Roses. Anyways, thanks for the comments.

  13. Charles you are welcome man. Thanks for checking it out.

  14. Thanks a bunch, Jason! Great captions and pics. I was really fascinated to know the 4R uses the single story aging warehouses. I thought all bourbon distillers used the multi-story ones.

  15. ..BTW, Jason, I also think it’s cool that even though you know or are familiar with a lot of folks with here through their blogs, you take the time to thank and interact with all posters. Not that way everywhere on the web..

  16. Texas thank you for the comments. I enjoy interacting and talking bourbon and whiskey with all of you. It’s fun stuff, and I am glad you enjoy it also. You guys all help make this that much more fun for me. So thank you for that.

  17. I should also mention that Michter’s also used the single-story warehouse concept in Pennsylvania until their untimely demise, the only other distillery I’m aware of that did that. I think they had four at one time. The last one collapsed this past year, truly the end of an era.

  18. Sam I did not know that about Michter’s. That’s great information.

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