I’m a firm believer that alcohol in moderation (that’s 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks/day for men, maximum) fits into a healthy lifestyle for most people. When I’m in serious training for a marathon, I don’t drink because it messes with my hydration, and I don’t drink the day before a race or long run. But otherwise, I’m game.
I especially love to have a drink at a winery or brewery where I can see the products being made, talk to the staff, and learn about the process. And I’ve been to lots of wineries and breweries, but never a distillery, so I was psyched to check out Four Roses, one of the stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, on my way home from Louisville.
Now, I like bourbon, but for a long time, I’ve really wanted to be one of those sexy scotch-drinking women who can shock bartenders with their sophisticated taste and extensive knowledge. But I just can’t stomach scotch. The first time I went to a scotch tasting and learned that “peat-y” (infused with the essence of rotting vegetation) is a desirable quality in a scotch…I was a little turned off. Yet I persisted in trying to choke it down, thinking I would eventually learn to like it. Until, that is, I came to Kentucky, the land where blended whiskey is looked down upon like the sludge that it is. Now that I’ve met some avid bourbon fans and I’ve learned how it’s made, I’m pretty proud to be a bourbon drinker.
The tour at Four Roses is about an hour long and ends with a tasting. The tour is free, fun, and super-informative. The distillery is a National Historic Site, and the Spanish-style architecture is beautiful and unique. The tour route winds through the different areas of the distillery, where you can see the phases of production and learn what makes bourbon bourbon. To be labeled straight bourbon, it must:
1) Be made in the U.S.A. (Who knew my taste was so patriotic?)
2) Be at least 51% corn
3) Be aged at least two years in charred barrels that are only used once (they get recycled afterwards)
Four Roses ages their bourbon longer than the minimum, and you can learn about some of their other secrets on the tour. My tour guide, Heather, was friendly, super-knowledgeable, and clearly very proud of her employer. The tasting at the end included three different types of bourbon. The samples are (appropriately) small, so three samples probably added up to about 1 – 1.5 ounces (or about one standard drink). If you’re sensitive to alcohol (or if you’ve been tasting at other stops on the KY Bourbon Trail), have some food before you go on the tour, and hang around the gift shop for a while before you drive off.
- The tour does go outside, so dress accordingly, and bring an umbrella if it’s raining.
- Four Roses stops production in the summer. They give tours year-round, but if you want to see production in process, go in the spring, fall, or winter.
- If you’re a romantic, ask how Four Roses got its name. “Awwww” guaranteed.
- Not all of the distilleries are open on Sundays, but Four Roses is. I went on a 1pm tour on Sunday, and the group was the perfect size.
Four Roses Bourbon
1224 Bonds Mill Road
Lawrenceburg, Kentucky 40342
Phone: 502.839.3436 ext. 18
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9 A.M. – 3 P.M. EST
Sunday 12 P.M. – 3 P.M. EST
Tours start on the hour.