Kentucky Bourbon Trail Part 5: Four Roses

Leaving Wild Turkey I figured Four Roses was a shoe in for the next visit. The entrance was beautiful.


They must not get too much traffic, because the visitor parking is behind the visitor center building, requiring one to drive past the employee parking. Odd set up, but the grounds are picturesque.

Clock tower
Welcome center

I tried to purchase a tour ticket, but was told that the 1:00 tour was full, so I could buy a tasting, but could not buy the 2:00 tour. What? Talking to the others who made the same decision I did led me to believe I wasn’t the only confused bourbon drinker to walk through those doors. But, as I discovered at Wild Turkey, being a veteran has privileges. Another free tasting.


The other distilleries focus on the barrel aging process, but Four Roses is focused on the recipe. They spend more attention on mixing mash recipes and yeasts than they do deciding what the barrel turns into in six or more years. It’s quite unique as far as I can tell. Instead of seven story warehouses, they keep it to one.

Wild Turkey warehouse

Four Roses used to be quite popular in the US, but for some reason they devolved into some sort of bourbon based morass that was sold for $9 a gallon or something absurd like that. After the 40s and 50s, they declined to the point where they almost went out of business. Proof of their former popularity is visible in the most iconic photo of the end of World War II.

Four Roses ad in Times Square at the very top

Seagram owned them for a time, but they were responsible for the decline of the marque in the US. During their time of wandering in the wilderness, Four Roses kept in business satisfying the tastes of the Asian market. They were eventually purchased by a Japanese company named Kirin, who was surprised their favorite bourbon wasn’t even sold in the US anymore. They’re working to change that now.

Since I was confused by the whole tour vs tasting thing, my Look and Leave inclinations took over. I jumped in the car and headed out, hoping to see more. The glass used in the tasting was a gift, by the way.


I’m not entirely sure I saw all there was to see at Four Roses, but I still got a stamp in my passport. That is the name of the game, right? If a friend wanted to return, I wouldn’t snub my nose at the chance.

Four Roses Distillery
1224 Bonds Mill Rd
Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
(502) 839-3436


Part 4 is here.

Part 6 is here.

My visit to the Four Roses aging warehouses is here.



My last comment was prophetic. My son visited and was interested in taking the tour. How could I turn him down?

The distillery was undergoing a giant expansion, so we didn’t get to see as much as I’d like. We could, however, peek inside.

Four Roses
Four Roses Stills

And, of course, we got a tasting of all three “expressions”.

Four Roses
Four Roses “Expressions”

The Single Barrel gets a lot of press, but I quite enjoy the Small Batch.

So, trip #2 left me looking forward to visiting yet again. I want to see the expansion. I bet it’s a sight to behold.


I'm an engineer, a veteran, and an avid traveler. I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson - "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

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