A Tempting World: Day 5 at Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey Distillery

The day began bright an early with a bus ride to the sold-out “Let’s Talk Bourbon” show at the Four Roses Bourbon distillery.  This was part of the program for the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, which has all the major brands of bourbon whiskey in attendance.

Master Distiller Jim Rutledge led the presentation and fielded questions about the intricacies of making the best bourbon. I was surprised to learn that older bourbon isn’t usually better than younger bourbon and to obtain the desired taste, Jim and his team of tasters actually sample the batches to know just when the bourbon is the best age.  It is proven that machines only can analyze to a certain depth of accuracy whereas the nose and mouth are said to be in the 3 billion range.  To properly define a whiskey as bourbon, it has to contain at least 51% corn in its mashbill, be stored for at least 2 years in new charred oak barrels and be made in the USA. After the lessons on bourbon, Jim was available to sign each bottle in gold pen, which makes for a great collector bottle.
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A Tempting World: Day 4 at Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey Distillery

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!
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A Tempting World: Day 3 at Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey Distillery

My first task of the day was to prepare the tasting for the German buyers at the distillery. The buyers received a fantastic demonstration of the 3 types of Four Roses Bourbon and were able to have a sample at every manufacturing step to really understand the process that goes in to making each bottle of bourbon. We also compared the brand with competitors and the taste of Four Roses Bourbon shined.  In my opinion, Four Roses Bourbon has a smoother taste and I really believe it has a lot to do with the constant care and quality control that they use in their manufacturing.

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A Tempting World: Day 2 at Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey Distillery

Ben with Camp Runamok team members

It was “all hands on deck” at Four Roses Bourbon on my second day of work.  No job is too big or small and I started my day packing pens in boxes for 350 gift bags, a task that needs to be completed by Friday! Luckily my speed and agility from my athletic prowess helped me pack and stuff at highly efficient and complimented speeds.

After stuffing about 50 bags, the team and I got the gazebo ready for the two large groups of bartenders who are part of Camp Runamok. These selected bartenders are the best in the United States and are here all week in Kentucky as well.  Al Young, who authored the Four Roses Bourbon historical narrative in hardcover, gave an inaugural speech, giving a historic overview of the Four Roses Bourbon brand in the USA.

Next, I spoke about my experiences of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and how I’ve traveled to many places around the world that excitedly carried the Four Roses Bourbon brand.  Capitalizing on my skills from years of public speaking about the Olympics helped me stay at ease in the new environment today.  I fielded many questions about the Olympics and found that I related to many of the bartenders due to our unique professions!  We closed the introductions with an enthusiastic “USA, USA, USA!” chant  and it was evident that we were happy to be in the heartland of Kentucky together!

The next part of the agenda for the day included a step by step tasting of each type of Bourbon that Four Roses Bourbon sells in the USA ( I think they enjoyed this part) and a tour of the facility.   I noticed jaws dropping as we learned the elaborate and refined manufacturing process for bourbon.

To give you a brief overview of the process,
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A Tempting World: Day 1 at Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey Distillery

My name is Ben Barger and I have been given the opportunity to work at a variety of exciting positions with some of the best employers in the world over the next few weeks as a part of A Tempting World.

I will be documenting my experiences with a blog series entitled “A Tempting World” and I am excited to share with you how my experiences as a U.S. Olympian retired from sport are helping me as I transition to the world of work.

My first assignment is at Four Roses Bourbon Whiskey Distillery in Kentucky where I will spend the week as an Event and Marketing Specialist.

The first day was action-packed with the grand opening of the Visitors Center, where dignitaries and city officials introduced the opening of the facility as a key attraction to the local area. Four Roses Bourbon lined the stage with confetti cannons and shot them in the air as the ribbon was officially cut to open the gorgeous Spanish-architecture-inspired-design Visitors Center.  What an exciting day in Kentucky.
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