Four Roses Introduces New 125th Year Anniversary Bottle, “Rosy Sensation”
The Hotel Barman's Association (HBA) Junior Cocktail Competition, Kirin Cup and Cocktail Festival was held in Sendai, Japan. At this event, the cocktails were separated into categories based on their base alcohol: Tanqueray No 10 (Gin), Ciroc (Vodka), and Four Roses (Bourbon). We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the unveiling of a new bourbon cocktail, so we headed down to the competition. We present to our readers some new cocktails that we would love for you try!
Winner: “Smile Again”
Maker: Keisuke Yamada
Four Roses Black (20 ml)
Original Peachtree (15 ml)
Fresh Grapefruit Juice (20 ml)
Monin Strawberry Syrup (5 ml)
Orange Peel (1)
Maker: Sayaka Tsutsumi
Four Roses Black (30 ml)
Original AppleBarrel (15 ml)
Tropical 100% Pineapple Juice (10 ml)
Fresh Lemon Juice (1 tsp)
Four Roses Director of Distillery Operations Ryan Ashley and Four Roses Ambassador Julie Gorham acted as judges for the Four Roses competition. Ashley and Gorham were in Japan not only to judge the competition, but also to present Four Roses’ limited edition 125th Anniversary Small Batch bourbon. We had a chance to sit down with both of them and talk about Bourbon and Four Roses.
Whiskey Magazine: Thank you taking time to talk with us today. As judges, what was your impression of the competition the other day?
Julie Gorham: I was very surprised. There aren’t very many competitions that are this serious in America. For the bartenders who participated in the event, as well as for the makers of the alcohol, this was a very worthwhile event.
WM: How was the winning cocktail?
JG: It was a cocktail that really warmed my heart. It was great not just for the taste and smell, but it really represented what we here at Four Roses are trying to express in our Bourbon.
WM: Would it be something you would recommend for Four Roses drinkers?
JG: Most definitely. The ingredients were not ones you would normally think of, yet its consistency of taste was above expectation - it really brought out a new flavor. As a new way to enjoy Four Roses, I whole-heartedly recommend this cocktail.
WM: How is Four Roses drunk in America? Is it usually drunk simple/on the rocks?
JG: For older drinkers of Four Roses, they enjoy it simple; on the other hand, the mixologists of today have been making up new and creative cocktails for us. Cocktails that can’t be captured in a preconceived notion or idea - there’s a lot of very unique drinks being made in America. Of course, when we think of Bourbon, we think “Chest Burner” or that we have to “Drink it in one gulp down the throat”, but we would like people to drink Four Roses slowly, enjoying the great smell and taste as they drink.
WM: We had previously asked Four Roses Master Distiller Jim Rutledge makes Four Roses different from other bourbons, and he had responded that you use 5 different types of yeast and 2 different types of mash to make 10 unique bourbons, are there any other special traits about Four Roses bourbon?
Ryan Ashley: The “Smooth and Mellow” taste of Four Roses, that comes out of the unique bourbon making process, is what gives Four Roses it’s special characteristic more than anything else. Just like these Four Roses on our logo: brilliant and mellow. We think that this is something that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of whether they are old or young, male or female.
WM: I hate to bring up other companies, but it seems like many whiskey makers in the US are also making liqueurs, does Four Roses have any intention to pursue that direction?
RA: Four Roses bourbon is plenty soft enough; we have no intention of adding any flavor or smell to it. Besides, we have our hands full just producing the bourbon itself!
WM: I can see your point, Four Roses bourbon has a flavor that can be enjoyed by those new to bourbon and those that have been drinking bourbon for some time. Four Roses is something that you can enjoy by itself or by mixing in a cocktail. It really is just the perfect drink.
AR: Yes, from our standard yellow label to the releases of our limited edition bourbons, there is a real depth to Four Roses that I would like people to get to know. Of course, I would love for everyone to try our 125th Anniversary Small Batch Bottle as well!
WM: I heard that you had a tasting of the “125th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch” Four Roses Bourbon at the competition the other day, how was it received?
AR: It was received very well. We got a lot of questions like “How can I get one of these?” Before coming to Japan, we had an event in Hong Kong where it was also received very well. We’ve produced limited edition bottles before, but this being the 125th Anniversary Year, it is a very exciting initiative. However, more than us here at Four Roses, our customers are very excited over this new edition. We’ve produced more than two times what we normally do when releasing a limited edition bottle, but we still are facing a worldwide shortage because of high demand.
WM: 18 year and 13 year aged bourbon is used in this new anniversary bourbon. Bourbon sure does take a while to mature, doesn’t it. It must be quite hard work blending the bourbon.
AR: Many Bourbon and Whiskey fans think the longer the maturation period, the better the bourbon. However, we aren’t of the opinion that the longer the bourbon ages the better; we focus on looking for each bourbon’s “Peak” maturation time, this is the very important in our process. It’s said that bourbon takes about 8-10 years to reach maturation. Within those barrels, some can go on for up to 18 years while still remaining good bourbon. However, finely checking these barrels to make sure the condition is still good was quite a difficult process. We have numerous older aged barrels like those, and blending them with our usual aged barrels, have come up with an excellent product.
WM: I see. I had the opportunity to try some of the new bourbon myself, and while having a deep aged flavor, it also had the smoothness that Four Roses has come to embody. It was a very complex tasting bourbon.
AR: We here are Four Roses don’t try for specific ages of bourbon, but shoot for a specific flavor profile instead. That target is whether or not the bourbon is “Smooth and Mellow.” This Anniversary bottle just happened to have the smoothest taste at 18 years maturation. We were very happy to that our customers were satisfied with the quality of the 125th Anniversary Bottle.
WM: Yes, this is definitely a bottle that people would want to get their hands on. Will you be doing any sort of special anniversary bottle or event to celebrate in America?
AR: Yes, we had a large ceremony at the Four Roses plant. This is, of course, a big turning point for us. As our plans for the future and our company itself continue to grow, we held a ceremony that really brought all the staff at Four Roses together under one common ideal. We have also started to promote this year as the “Year of the Toast.” In America, before we drink, there is a custom of always giving a toast. We are currently trying to collect all of those toasts online. We are receiving fitting toasts from the gathering of friends and family members. From those toasts that were submitted, we will choose one of them and put it on a limited edition bottle to go out next year to commemorate the celebration. It’s great that we were able to put out a high quality 125th anniversary bottle for this year, but what makes us truly happy is being able to share the joy and celebration with our customers.
WM: Lastly, do you have a message for the whisky fans in Japan? Maybe a secret that you would like to share with us?
AR: Hmm… a secret?! As you know, our recipe and the way we make our bourbon is all available publicly – we are a very open distillery. Using traditional equipment, we continue to hold on to the age-old bourbon making tradition. If anyone would like to find the secret behind the taste, we welcome them to our distillery where they can see the process, enjoy the atmosphere, and understand the true secret behind Four Roses Bourbon. We would love for our Japanese customers to come and visit!
WM: Thank you very much.