We’re celebrating National Bourbon Day today, June 14, with the entire Four Roses lineup and a little Bourbon history. The name ‘Bourbon’ comes out of Bourbon County, a 292 square mile Kentucky county founded in 1785. According to Charles K. Cowdery, when the county was formed there were many small farmer-distillers making whiskey. There weren’t many roads and even fewer local markets for farm products to be sold, so farmers sold their corn crop in part by first distilling it into whiskey. Fast forward to 2019 and we see Bourbon experiencing a resurgence with global attention. In North America, sales have soared and Kentucky has capitalized on this interest with several “Bourbon Trails” and other tourism opportunities.
Four Roses has long been a part of this Kentucky tradition. In 1884, Paul Jones Jr, moved his thriving business to Louisville, Kentucky, and opened an office in a section of historic Main Street called, “Whiskey Row.” Four years later, he trademarked the name Four Roses, claiming production and sales back to the 1860s. In 1922, the Paul Jones Company purchased the Frankfort Distilling Company. Then, in 1943, Seagram purchased the Frankfort Distilling Co. primarily to acquire the most noted and recognized name in the business at that time – Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
However, even though Four Roses was the top selling Bourbon in the U.S., Seagram made the decision to discontinue the sale of Four Roses’ Kentucky Straight Bourbon in the United States, and Four Roses was moved to the rapidly growing European and Asian markets where it quickly became and still is a top-selling Bourbon in both Europe and Japan today.
In 1966, Jim Rutledge, who would later become one of the world’s most legendary Master Distillers, joined Seagram in the Louisville Plant’s Research and Development Department. In 1995, he replaced Ova Haney as the Master Distiller and for the next several years, he worked tirelessly to return the Four Roses brand back to the States – a dream that would become a reality in hands of a new owner.
In February 2002, the Kirin Brewery Company, Ltd. purchased the Four Roses Bourbon brand trademark and production facilities. The new acquisition was named the Four Roses Distillery LLC. Shortly thereafter, Four Roses was once again sold in the United States and quickly earned the reputation of being one of the most notable names in the Bourbon world. In August 2015, Jim Rutledge retired as Master Distiller and Brent Elliott, who had worked alongside Jim for 10 years, became the company’s new Master Distiller.
We’ve come a long away after returning to the states in the early 2000’s and we’re happy to celebrate National Bourbon Day today with you. Open your favorite, pour a glass, and have a mellow day.
Four Roses is committed to safe, responsible drinking.
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