Whiskey Review: Four Roses Yellow - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Four Roses Yellow

Four Roses YellowWhen I visited friends in Madrid two summers ago, we did our share of drinking. We sipped sherry and house-made vermouth alongside tapas, took in World Cup matches over one-Euro beers, and toasted fancy gin cocktails. Just about the only thing I didn’t drink a lot of was whiskey; it’s distinctly unpopular in Spain, despite that nation’s rightful reputation as a hotspot for drinking. American whiskey, especially, is scarce.

The one bourbon you can reliably find in Spain is Four Roses. This is because in 1943, when Seagram acquired the brand, they stopped selling Four Roses bourbon in the US and focused entirely on Europe and Asia. Four Roses soon became the highest-selling bourbon in those markets, and to this day, as I found out, it’s a popular choice abroad.

The flip side of the Seagram acquisition is that starting in 1943, here in the States, the company only sold a whiskey known as Four Roses American, a bottom-shelf blended whiskey largely made from neutral grain spirits that quickly acquired a Skid Row reputation. Thus, in 2004, when the Kirin Brewing Company—which had bought the brand two years prior—restarted stateside bourbon sales, the company’s reputation here wasn’t exactly glowing.

Since then, however, the company has done some major retooling, and has been named American Distiller of the Year by Whisky Magazine for four years running. They produce a solid lineup of bourbons, from mid-range to premium.

I got the chance to sample Four Roses Yellow, the label’s entry level offering. It’s distilled from an unspecified blend of their two mash bills, of which we’ve talked about before, bottled at 80 proof.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: deep amber with light legs

Nose: sweet and fruity notes like vanilla, raisin, and caramel predominate, balanced with a hint of warm spice.

Palate: quite soft, with more vanilla, along with honey and a little pear.

Finish: smooth and pleasant, if unremarkable. Spice comes through initially, followed by light woodiness and the barest hint of grass.


This is a very solid, easy-drinking whiskey for the price point, and I’d definitely recommend it for mixing up a few Old Fashioneds or, given the season, a batch of boozy eggnog.

Final Score: 87/100

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