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The story of Four Roses is a bit of a mystery. Some claim that is was named in honor of Rufus Mathewson Rose, his brother Origen, and their two sons. Four members of the Rose Family, thus “Four Roses” Bourbon. But there are other competing origin stories for the brand.
Even the current owners of the company disavow that version. They claim that the name “Four Roses Bourbon” was trademarked by Paul Jones Jr. in 1888, for a Whiskey he had already been making for more than twenty years.
What is known is that the current Four Roses Distillery was built in 1910, on the outskirts of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Seagrams purchased it in 1943, and Diageo got them with a lot of other Seagrams’ assets in 2002.
During some of those dark days at Seagrams, the company replaced the Four Roses Bourbon sold in America, with a very poor quality blended Whiskey, and shipped all the solid Bourbon overseas, largely to Japan.
Their reputation in the U.S. and Europe deteriorated, and they were sold to the Kirin Brewing Company -- based in Japan. In 1995, master distiller Jim Rutledge intervened to repair the Bourbon brand in the U.S. Four Roses is now highly praised for quality.
They take an interesting approach to spirit-making at their mid-sized production facility. They use five proprietary yeast strains and two mash-bills, to create ten distinct Bourbon recipes, that are then mixed and matched into their core range and other brands.