Four Roses Virtual Tour
blog | 3/22/2020
While we are all doing our duty to society by practicing social distancing, we would like to do our duty for our Four Roses family by bringing the Four Roses experience right to you at home. Pour yourself a glass and join us as we take you on a Virtual Tour of the Four Roses Distillery and our Warehouse & Bottling Facility.
As you’d approach our distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, you’d find that much like our process for distilling award-winning Bourbon, our distillery is part of what makes Four Roses truly unique. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was built in 1910 and features a unique Spanish Mission-Style architecture rarely seen in Kentucky.
Fun Fact: In 2019, we completed a multi-year, $34 million dollar expansion project at the distillery. We were fortunate enough to work with Joseph & Joseph Architects, the same firm that designed and built the original distillery building back in 1910.
As you enter the Visitor Center, you notice several archived items, representing the rich history of our Bourbon brand. In 1888, a young whiskey man, Paul Jones Jr., named his Bourbon after the occasion where his true love said, “yes” with a corsage of four red roses. Since that time, we’ve seen Prohibition come and go, two World Wars, the first Moon Landing, and so much more.
The greatness begins with our grains. We pay a premium for our high-quality, non-GMO grains, but that’s the only way we know how to make high-quality Bourbon. We use corn, rye and malted barley in our two unique mashbills. One is 60% corn, and the other is 75% corn. Limestone-rich water from the spring-fed Salt River is added to the mashbill. Each mashbill is cooked to perfection by tightly controlling the temperature to protect the delicate flavors of the different grains.
Fun Fact: Our lower corn mashbill contains 35% rye, significantly more than other Bourbons, resulting in a spicy, full-bodied taste. You’ll see this particularly prominent in Four Roses Single Barrel.
At Four Roses, we use five original and proprietary yeast strains — each producing uniquely different, rich flavors. Only a small volume of yeast, about the size of a pencil tip, is needed to begin the fermentation process. In the laboratory, the yeast is added to a nutrient-rich medium and placed in a small vessel to grow. When enough yeast has grown, it is transferred to the dona tub to continue growing, and then finally to a yeast tub before being pumped into the fermentors.
With the combination of two mashbills and five proprietary yeasts, 10 distinct Bourbon recipes are made.
The fermentation room is one of our favorites at Four Roses. This is where the yeast joins freshly cooked mash. The mash starts out sweet, but after about three days, the fermentation is complete, leaving a sour mash known as Distiller’s Beer.
Next, comes the distillation. Our column still converts liquids in the distiller’s beer into a vapor that travels to the condenser where it is then condensed back into a liquid that feeds off into the tailbox at about 132 proof. This alcohol is fairly clean, but still contains a small amount of impurities that affect the taste. It is sent off for a second distillation in the doubler to remove these impurities. The alcohol comes out of the doubler at about 138-140 proof. After the second distillation, the alcohol is sent to distillate tanks to be checked for quality and consistency, and then to tanker trucks to be shipped to our Warehouse & Bottling Facility in Cox’s Creek, Kentucky.
Now we take you to our Warehouse & Bottling Facility, nestled in Cox’s Creek, Kentucky.
Here, once the distillate has been proofed, it is loaded into charred, new American oak barrels, bungs are used to seal the barrels, and the barrels are put up in racks in the warehouse. We age each barrel for at least 5 years. During that time the charred barrel will add oak and woody flavors to the Bourbon, as well as sweet vanilla and toffee notes from the caramelized sugars that are produced during the charring process. Each barrel ages differently, and is allowed to age until the desired taste profile is reached for the intended product.
Fun Fact: Four Roses is the first and one of the only distilleries using single-story rack warehouses during the aging process to provide a gentle, undisturbed, and more consistent maturation process.
From time to time during the aging process, barrels are pulled to check maturation progress. A tool called a whiskey thief is used to extract samples to be tasted by Master Distiller Brent Elliott.
Once barrels have aged to perfection, they are removed from the warehouse to be dumped for bottling. The bung is removed and the Bourbon “dumped” into a stainless steel trough.
It is then proofed, tested, and chill filtered to remove sediment, and then sent to the bottling line, one step closer to you.
Fun fact: Our newest offering, Four Roses Small Batch Select, is our only product available year round that is not chill filtered.
We hope your experience was nothing short of mellow on our virtual tour of the Four Roses Distillery and Warehouse & Bottling Facility. Even in times of uncertainty, we are certain we will see each other again soon. Cheers!