It wouldn’t be a proper visit to Kentucky without touring a bourbon distillery. And — if you are of legal drinking age — drinking the bourbon, too.
During my trip to the Bluegrass State in November 2014, my cousin and I visited Four Roses Bourbon Distillery. Located in Lawrenceburg, Ky., Four Roses is part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail ® experience. It’s about 25 miles from downtown Lexington and less than 60 miles from downtown Louisville.
Touring Four Roses Bourbon Distillery
Erected in 1910, the distillery has Spanish Mission-style architecture and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Definitely not what I expected to see in the heart of Kentucky!
During our tour of the distillery, we also learned about the components used in making bourbon, the distilling process, and the difference between bourbon and whiskey. I even tasted the corn mash. It’s not awful, but trying mash once is enough for a lifetime. I guess I just like my bourbon in its finished form. 😉
The distillery tour begins with a brief informative video about how bourbon is made. Then you will see what you’ve just learned from the video in action. A good portion of the tour is outside, so dress accordingly. Note: You’ll eventually warm up inside the distillery and later by drinking bourbon.
More interesting than the bourbon-distilling process was the history of Four Roses. I particularly enjoyed the story of how Four Roses founder Paul Jones, Jr. named the company. I don’t want to ruin the surprise should you plan to tour Four Roses someday. Let’s just say, Jones’s story is a tale of his two loves — bourbon and a Southern belle.
Around the grounds and inside the distillery you’ll notice signs, like the one pictured above, in multiple languages, including Japanese. The Japanese company Kirin Brewing Company acquired Four Roses in 2002. Since then, Kirin Brewing Co. has made the Kentucky bourbon popular again in European and Japanese markets. It also returned Four Roses to the United States after former-owner Seagram stopped selling the brand in America decades ago.
What To Know Before Your Four Roses Tour
- Location: 1224 Bonds Mill Road, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
- Tour Times: On the hour 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday – Saturday, Noon – 3 p.m. Sunday
- Tour Cost: $5, includes bourbon tasting for visitors 21+ with valid ID
- Tour Reservations: Recommended for parties of 10 or more and weekend visitors. Call the Visitor Center at (502) 839-2655 to reserve your tour!
- Gift Shop Hours: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday – Saturday, Noon – 4 p.m. Sunday
- Bring: Valid government-issued ID (passport or U.S. driver’s license/state ID), camera, and your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® passport
Tasting Four Roses Bourbon
Among the spirits we tasted were the Small Batch and Single Barrel bourbons. I prefer the smoother blends that gently warmed my palate. The bourbons we tasted are meant to be consumed neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of water. However, many folks like their mint juleps, especially during the Kentucky Derby. If you like mint juleps, you’ll definitely want to check out the Four Roses gift shop.
Personally, I still prefer my whiskeys and bourbons in a well-mixed cocktail or with ginger ale. How about you? How do you drink your bourbon?
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Would you go on a bourbon distillery tour?