Being Master Distiller is something Brent Elliott says is hard to call a job because, to him, “it’s a privilege and a passion to be a part of Four Roses.”
A native of Owensboro, Kentucky, Brent became Master Distiller at Four Roses in September 2015 and he is uniquely qualified for this role… after all, he’s been involved in Producing Four Roses premium Bourbons since he began with the company in 2005.
As the Distillery’s Director of Quality, Brent’s years of experience with Four Roses include everything from applying his Chemistry degree in production, managing barrel inventories, production planning, to selecting barrels for special Single Barrel bottlings and Limited Edition products. Brent applies his on-the-job experience to his role of Master Distiller, ensuring that each Four Roses product has the fruity, smooth and mellow character, along with a hint of spice, that the brand has become known for around the world.
Every stage of the production process is critical and you’ll find Brent’s heart and soul in every one of them. Named Master Distiller/Blender of the Year at the 2020 Icons of Whisky America award ceremony, Brent Elliott is particularly proud of Small Batch Select, the distillery’s newest permanent product-line extension since 2006, and the biggest addition to the storied history of the brand since he became master distiller.
Brent is eager to chat with Bourbon fans far and wide, so pour a sip or two of your favorite Bourbon, mellow out a little and check our Events calendar to see when he will be in a city near you.
A Q&A With Master Distiller Brent Elliott
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!
What is your responsibility as Master Distiller?
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. And, with our recent investments to increase our capacity, even more people will have the chance to enjoy Four Roses.
What gives you the most satisfaction at Four Roses?
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 love music. Picking a favorite band or genre is similar to the question about my favorite recipe. There is a whole world of rich, wonderful music out there. There are a million tangible and intangible factors that at any particular time make a certain sound “perfect”.
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.