Day four of my experience during my “A Tempting World” assignment at Four Roses Bourbon began with setting up a barrel tasting at the Four Roses Bourbon bottling warehouse. The barrel program allows customers to go onsite and sample various barrels until they find one that they particularly enjoy. I am certainly beginning to realize that bourbon is quite a sophisticated spirit.
I was involved with setting up the tasting with Jim Rutledge, Master Distiller, who lead the presentation for the customers as well as members of the press and select VIPs.
Throughout the tasting, we were challenged to determine what the best flavored bourbon was and learned that no two are identical. Four Roses Bourbon has two different mash-bills, or the combinations of corn rye and barley and 5 different yeast strains that change the taste of the bourbon. The group of tasters and I had bourbon from all ten barrels, which represented every different flavor and provided a very authentic way of tasting – each was right out of the barrel and unfiltered!
Jim used a fife, or a long metal pipe with hole in the end, to pull the bourbon right out of the barrel. Occasionally in this process, a little bit of charcoal also comes with the bourbon sample which occurs from being in a barrel for ten years. At this stage, the bourbon is nearly 120 proof, or 60% alcohol by volume, making for quite an early morning wake up for the tasters! By the end of the tasting, barrel number 9 was the preferred choice by most of the participants. This barrel in particular will be bottled at the warehouse and then shipped off to the restaurants in Los Angeles.
The bottling facility is going through a major evolution, as the US demand for the product has been seeing double-digit growth each year since its return to the United States market. The production line is also being sped up with new machinery. Interestingly enough, Four Roses Bourbon still puts the labels on by hand and has quite a production to make it all happen. Four Roses Bourbon utilizes Adecco Staffing US for their temporary staffing needs and each one of the associates I met were enthusiastic and happy with their work with here.
The day continued with many interviews about the A Tempting World program at both lunch and dinner functions. During these meetings, I got to share my experiences at Four Roses Bourbon and attest to the quality of the taste and texture of the product. As you can imagine, the spirit business is very competitive. This industry must focus on developing a great tasting spirit as well as a loyal customer base. In my opinion, Four Roses Bourbon does a great job of getting their customers excited about their product which reminded me of my sailing background and how important it was for me to build that same excitement about my journey to the Olympics.