GSN Review: Four Roses Bourbon

four_roses_bourbon_logoThe legend of the four roses hearkens back to 1888. No doubt, Jerry Thomas of 19th century bartending fame was well acquainted with their product.  Founded by Rufus and Origen Rose, they also included the two male heirs of the family into the brands name.  Thus, the four Roses were born as a bourbon crafted in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

Although the company has had its share of ups and downs over the years mainly due to changing tastes from straight to blended bourbons, they have never entirely disappeared off the liquorious map.  It took a Japanese company (Kirin) to bring back the former glory of the distilleries straight bourbons under the tutelage of Jim Rutledge since 1995.

The company ages ten different bourbons which are bottled in differing manners depending on whether they are blended or single barrel versions.  They also release special and limited editions on occasion.  GSN was sent a selection of Four Roses bourbons currently available in the US.  For those of our lucky readers in Japan, you may wish to seek out a few other styles only available to you.

Four Roses Yellow Label (80 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Tangy and sweet with a lot of woody high notes.  Very genteel.
Taste: Light and elegant with a very approachable sweetness.
Finish: Fairly short with a hint of honey at the very end.
Overall: Quite mixable and easy to drink.  A great bourbon for the beginner.
GSN Rating: B+

Four Roses Small Batch (90 proof)
Visual: Mellow gold.
Nose: Dry and crisp with a subtle apple scent.  Very autumnal.
Taste: Amazingly round and creamy with a very smooth mouthfeel.  The flavor goes beyond this though, with a lot of peppery spice and baked nutbread character.  Dessert-like and quite the sipper.
Finish: The ginger bite and honeyed sweetness fades fairly quickly, leaving an overall sensation of vanilla cream and cinnamon.  Very interesting and memorable.
Overall: A bourbon that not only is surprisingly mellow, but at the same time has a unique fruity character that I’ve not come across in many bourbons.
GSN Rating: A

Four Roses Single Barrel (100 proof)
Visual: Yellow-gold.
Nose: Hefty and with a brilliance of sweet summer corn.
Taste: Rich, warm, buttery toffee with a sudden burst of oaky intensity.
Finish: Long and sweet.  Like a southern belle, you’ll want to keep holding it close to you and remember the body.
Overall: I am highly impressed with this bourbon that just keeps going on and on.  One of my favorites.
GSN Rating: A

Four Roses 125th Anniversary (103 proof)
Visual: Darkening golden brown.
Nose: A huge amount of high notes with an almost well-aged cognac character.
Taste: The taste as well is surprisingly cognac-like.  Rich, elegant, enveloping and the kind of bourbon that you only pull out on special occasions.  Wow!
Finish: Medium long, but with a lot of percolating sweet and spicy notes that open up with a bit of water.
Overall: This is a world-class bourbon that exemplifies the art of distilling and blending.  Well worth seeking out to “cellar”.  Kudos to Master Distiller Jim Rutledge for this engaging beauty!
GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Four Roses

GSN Backbar Review: Jan. 13-17, 2014

indexConstellation is extending its Svedka vodka brand with two new flavors, Mango Pineapple and Strawberry Lemonade. Available nationwide beginning next month, the duo will retail at $12.99 a 750-ml. They join Colada, Strawberry Colada, Orange Cream Pop, Cherry, Citron, Clementine, Raspberry and Vanilla in the brand’s flavor line.

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indexDes Plaines, Illinois-based A. Hardy USA has added Ireland’s Dingle Gin to its U.S. import portfolio. Produced by County Kerry’s Dingle distillery, established in 2012, the 43%-abv offering is made using traditional pot stills and seven locally-grown botanicals, including coriander, angelica, chervil, heather, bog myrtle, juniper and rowanberry. Dingle Gin, which is billed as a classic, London dry-style entry, is priced at $35.99 a 750-ml.

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indexHeaven Hill Distilleries has released the latest edition of its Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon, available to select retailers and on-premise operators nationwide. A 2004 vintage, the new release was matured under careful supervision in natural open-rick warehouses and is said to have a more bold character than last year’s at 86.6 proof with an average retail price of $26.99 a 750-ml. bottle. Heaven Hill’s sixth-generation master distiller Parker Beam selected barrels for the 2004 vintage that sat higher up in the warehouses so that the temperature gradients over the nine to 10 years of aging were more extreme.

indexOaxaca, Mexico’s Mezcal Vago is entering California through a partnership with The Henry Wine Group. The family-crafted artisan mezcal was first introduced to North America last year and currently is distributed in Colorado, Texas, New York, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In California, Vago will market its Espadin ($49.99), Elote ($52.99), Cuixe ($89.99), Mexicano ($89.99), Tobala en Barro ($131.99) and Ensamble en Barro ($69.99) variants.

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indexDiageo’s Crown Royal has unveiled its latest extension, Crown Royal XO, an ultra-premium blended Canadian whisky that pays homage to the brand’s storied history. According to the company, master blender Andrew MacKay used more than 50 whiskies in the blend and finished it in Cognac casks from the French Limousin Forest. The amber-topaz blend is packaged in Crown Royal’s iconic bag with gray and gold embroidery accents. The new XO expression will be available nationwide starting early January for a suggested retail price of $49.99 a 750-ml.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily

GSN: Backbar Review – March 25-29, 2013

evan-williams-single-lrgHeaven Hill Distilleries has released the 2003 vintage of its Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon. Created by master distillers Parker and Craig Beam, the 86.6-proof limited edition entry marks the 18th vintage in the Evan Williams Single Barrel series, which first launched in 1994. The 2003 edition is now available nationally both on- and off-premise, priced at around $25.99 a 750-ml. In addition to the Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage, the brand’s stable includes the core Evan Williams Bourbon range, Evan Williams 1783, the Evan Williams Reserve flavored liqueurs and a variety of flavored seasonal liqueurs.

imagesWashington, D.C.-based Georgetown Trading Co. has unveiled its latest release, Pow-wow botanical rye whiskey. It is available now in Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida and Washington, D.C., priced at $41 a 750-ml. The small-batch whiskey (90-proof) is inspired by an old colonial recipe and is infused over an extended period of time with saffron, orange peel and other botanicals. Producer and importer Georgetown Trading’s portfolio also includes James E. Pepper Kentucky whiskey as well as the John L. Sullivan Irish whiskey brand.

9542Beam Inc. is launching a new addition to its Hornitos Tequila brand, Hornitos Lime Shot. Lime Shot is a combination of Hornitos Plata 100% blue agave Tequila with the taste of lime and a hint of salt. It is available now nationwide, for a suggested retail price of $17.99-$19.99 for a 750-ml. bottle. It will also be available in 50-ml. and 1-liter sizes.

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lillet-rose-bottlePernod Ricard has extended its Lillet aperitif brand for the first time in 50 years with the launch of Lillet Rosé. Available exclusively within European travel retail, the new offering will debut at the Bordeaux-Merignac Airport in April before rolling out to additional travel retail outlets May 1. The launch will be supported via branded merchandising units and high visibility light-boxes, as well as a guided sampling program. Made from various Bordeaux grape varietals and handcrafted fruit liqueurs, Lillet Rosé joins Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rouge in the Lillet portfolio.

TN-140364_WatermelonWowBottle_blackBeam Inc. has extended its Pucker flavored vodka line with a new entry, Watermelon Wow. The new Watermelon flavor is in national distribution, priced at $16.99 a 750-ml. The Pucker range features six other flavors—Sour Apple Sass, Grape Gone Wild, Cherry Tease, Citrus Squeeze, Lemonade Lust and Raspberry Rave.

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absolut-craftPernod Ricard’s Absolut brand has officially unveiled Absolut Craft, a new range of artisanal flavored vodkas designed exclusively for professional bartenders. Created in partnership with master bartender Nick Strangeway, the collection will ultimately feature three expressions, each using “at least 12 macerates, infusions and/or distillates” to create a sophisticated flavor profile.  Absolut Craft’s debut expression is Herbaceous Lemon, made with a blend of lemon verbena, lemon thyme and lemon myrtle. Herbaceous Lemon (41% abv) will be available in select markets this April. Two additional Absolut Craft flavors are slated to roll out later this year.

All information courtesy of Shanken News Daily