From the 1930s through the 1950s, Four Roses was the bestselling brand of bourbon in the United States. The name dates to 1884. Originally produced by Frankfort Distilling Co., it purchased by Seagram in 1943. By the end of the 1950s, Seagrams had ended the sale of Four Roses as a bourbon brand in the United States and eventually shifted the brand to a blended whiskey. The once-premier Four Roses thus gained a reputation as the sort of swill drunk by frat boys who were more interested in getting drunk than in flavor. It was sort of the Mogen David of whiskies.
Four Roses was purchased by Japan’s Kirin Brewery in 2002. Kirin immediately took it off the market, even buying back existing stocks. Then, the Four Roses brand was reintroduced as a proper bourbon.
At around $20 a bottle, no one is going to mistake Four Roses as a premium brand. I don’t think I’d want to sip it straight, but I like it as a mixer. It works fine for me in a whiskey sour, or a Manhattan. Drunk neat, Four Roses is light, and has a taste of honey and vanilla along with a bit of apple.