Q&A with Master Distiller Brent Elliott
blog | 9/18/2015
We know you don’t like to toot your own horn, but what makes you an ideal Master Distiller?
In many ways, I am somewhat reserved. I think that aspect of my personality and my interest in science are what led me into the field of chemistry. But, after coming to Four Roses, leaning more about Bourbon and interacting with visitors to the Distillery, I began to realize that I never felt reserved when it came to Bourbon. I think the key is the excitement that surrounds any conversation about Bourbon…from both sides!
Any fun stories of learning from, or working with Jim Rutledge?
This memory is not work related, but Jim and I have a nice history of karaoke duets of Johnny Cash songs at Four Roses’ Christmas parties. Jim is really good at hitting the low notes. I’m not sure about me. I don’t think anybody ever said “good job” to me…
It’s easy to have fun at tastings and events. Honestly we usually have fun at work, too. There’s a job that always has to get done, but it rarely feels much like a job.
What’s the single most important thing you have learned from Jim?
When I see Jim interact with the public, I immediately recognize the magic that endears him to the people. He takes the time to listen and talk to anyone, anytime.
Everything is handed down. When someone is hired to the Four Roses’ production team, they are surrounded by others who carry years of combined experience. After all, that’s what it takes to produce great Bourbon. As Master Distiller, Jim has always been eager to share his valuable knowledge.
How will you carry on the tradition as Master Distiller of Four Roses Bourbon?
My focus will always be what got me to where I am, and what got the Four Roses brand where it is today, and that’s quality. It will be a challenge to be as involved in Quality as I always have been and to promote a brand that I love, but it’s a challenge I welcome!
If we maintain the same quality that has come to define Four Roses and I successfully share my experiences and passion with the growing number of Bourbon enthusiasts, then I will be doing my job. This brand speaks for itself, and I’m committed to maintaining the product and sharing Four Roses Bourbon with as many people as possible.
What’s been your favorite thing about working at Four Roses Bourbon thus far?
If you look at Four Roses, you can see the tremendous growth over the past 5-10 years. In that time there has been a surreal feeling of excitement surrounding the brand and the industry as a whole. As Four Roses has grown, this excitement has attracted more wonderful and passionate people to the company. Working with them and sharing in the excitement is my favorite part of being here.
What can the fans expect in years to come?
More Bourbon of the same quality they know and love.
Where’s your bliss?
I’m happiest either when I am so deep into a project or task that I lose track of everything else OR when something is finally complete and I can take a big step back and take pride in the finished project. One thing that comes to mind is the first sip of a Limited Edition after all the barrels are dumped. That’s satisfying!
Describe a typical day in the life of Brent Elliott.
Fortunately it is impossible to answer that question. Every day is different for me at Four Roses. I enjoy that there is no real routine. I mentally prepare my daily goals on my way to work every day. If I’m lucky, my day resembles my plan. Usually, it doesn’t.
Do you remember your first taste of Bourbon?
I remember my first drink of unmixed bourbon. Years ago, a good friend of mine introduced me to Bourbon on the rocks. I was very excited and grateful at the time. I’m even more grateful now, and I’ve told him so.
Where did you grow up?
UK or UofL?
I graduated from UK. That’s all I should say.
Do you have a favorite Four Roses recipe?
I can’t even say what my favorite Four Roses product is. It changes depending on my mood and even on the time of year. I seem to lean toward Single Barrel in the cooler months and the Yellow Label and Small Batch in the warmer months.
Are you into music? Favorite band?
I am very much into music. A few weeks ago, with no prompting, my 7 year old son asked me from the back seat of the car to turn up Led Zeppelin. I couldn’t have been prouder. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite band, era, or genre.
How did you feel when you were named Master Distiller at Four Roses Bourbon?
Of course Joy and excitement, but more than that I felt honored thatFour Roses was putting their confidence in me.
What’s the perfect meal to accompany Four Roses Bourbon?
Because I am from Owensboro, KY, I was recently asked about pairing Bourbon with Western Kentucky Barbeque. Honestly I have not tried to pair these, yet, so I could not properly answer. However, I promise that on my next trip to Owensboro I’m going to have fun getting to the bottom of this question.
How do you prefer to drink Four Roses?
Usually I drink my Bourbon on the rocks or neat. However, when I get the chance for a talented bartender to make me a cocktail, I never pass it up. The creativity and skill of many bartenders is amazing.
Also I have to take this opportunity to praise my wife. She has recently perfected her Old Fashioned- and it’s delicious.