Bourbon Breakdown: Four Roses Bourbon

September 12, 2021

Four Roses is one of the most popular brands of bourbon produced. Certainly, one of the things that makes the brand stand out from the rest is its use of two mash bills, or grain recipes, along with five different yeast strains. This gives Four Roses 10 bourbon recipes to mix and match creating unique bottlings. In fact, the brand’s focus on blending bourbon recipes is more akin to Japanese whisky making. But perhaps that’s not so surprising since as of 2002 the Four Roses Bourbon brand has been owned by Japan’s Kirin Brewery Co.

In detail, the two mash bills that Four Roses uses are each considered to be high-rye bourbon recipes with one using 20% rye and the other 35% rye. Meanwhile, most bourbon is made with a traditional bourbon recipe using around 12% rye. But of course, like all bourbon recipes, corn is the dominant grain.

As for the yeast strains, the five flavors they produce are as follows: delicate fruit, slight spice, rich fruit, floral essence, and herbal notes.

Below we’ve “broken the code” for each of the core Four Roses bourbon bottlings. Also, we’ve got our expert tasting notes along with Distiller’s Community Ratings to help you make your next bourbon purchase.

Four Roses Bourbon

This was formerly known as Four Roses Yellow Label, but both the label and the name were updated in 2018.

What to Know:

This entry-level bourbon is made with all 10 of Four Roses bourbon mash bill grain recipes. It’s aged around 5 years and is bottled at 80 proof.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

Sweet corn, honey, vanilla and a touch of spice.

Avg US Price: $21
ABV: 40%
Community Rating: 3.38 out of 5 stars (617 Ratings)

Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

Notably, just four of the 10 bourbon recipes are used for this bottling.

What to Know:

The flavors created by the yeast strain focus on slight spice and rich fruit. It’s aged around 6 years and is bottled at 90 proof.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

Toffee, cinnamon, pitted fruits and oak along with raspberries and honey.

Avg US Price: $37
ABV: 45%
Community Rating: 3.82 out of 5 stars (4,780 Ratings)

Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

In contrast to the flagship bottling which uses all 10 of the Four Roses recipes, only one recipe is used here. In particular, it’s made using 35% rye and the yeast strain focus is delicate fruit.

What to Know:

It is aged around 7 years and is bottled at 100 proof.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

Cherries, pear and chocolate with some oak and toffee.

Avg US Price: $48
ABV: 50%
Community Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars (6,674 ratings)

Four Roses Small Batch Select

Released in 2019, this is the most recent addition the Four Roses portfolio.

What to Know:

Six of the 10 bourbon recipes are used here with delicate fruit, slight spice and herbal notes are highlighted. It’s bottled at 104 proof, the highest of the core portfolio.

What Our Experts Think It Tastes Like:

Earthy leather undertones, salted caramel, peanut shells and Peppermint Patties.

Avg US Price: $61
ABV: 52%
Community Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars (1,155 Ratings)

Other Four Roses Bourbon Bottles to Know:

Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon

Each year, Four Roses releases a limited-edition small batch that is selected by Master Distiller and Blender Brent Elliott, among barrels of different mash bill recipes, levels of maturity and proof. As for the most recent 2021 Edition, the bourbon is composed of four different batch selections aged 12 to 16 years. Significantly, the bourbon is non-chill filtered and bottled at 114.2 proof.

Ready to do your own Four Roses Bourbon comparisons?

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