Four Roses Super Premium Review

When I first received notice that I had been selected to write a piece for Bourbon & Banter, my initial excitement almost lead me to drop everything I was doing, pouring a glass of Bourbon, and firing up the laptop. It was then that I started thinking though.

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Joshua Heitsch is our guest blogger today with his Four Roses Super Premium review. As with our other Help Wanted applicants we ask that you share your thoughts on his post in the comments. If you want to know a little more about Joshua check out his Detroit Bourbon website.

When I first received notice that I had been selected to write a piece for Bourbon & Banter, my initial excitement almost lead me to drop everything I was doing, pouring a glass of Bourbon, and firing up the laptop.  It was then that I started thinking though.  Should I write a piece about the few run-ins I had with Jimmy Russell, the masterful and lovable, yet always gracious Master Distiller of Wild Turkey?

Perhaps I should review one of the Bourbons from Buffalo Trace – many of which are as beautiful and diverse as the distillery grounds themselves.  The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I wanted to write about something special.  After all, it may prove to be my only opportunity to write a piece for this site.

That’s when it hit me – I would review a Bourbon from my favorite distillery, Four Roses.  But with well over a dozen different types of Four Roses currently on the shelf, which should I choose for this special occasion?

Ultimately, I made my decision.  It finally seemed like the right time to open the bottle of Four Roses Super Premium that my sister-in-law brought back from Japan!  This fine Bourbon, sometimes known as “Four Roses Platinum” due to the color of the flagship roses molded into the bottle, was indeed something special as it is not available in the U.S.  Although distilled in the same distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY as all other Four Roses Bourbons, it is one of two created and marketed solely for the Japanese market (the other being “black label”).

While it may seem unfair that it’s made in Kentucky but not available to the U.S. market, this decision goes all the way back to the days when Seagram owned the brand.  Under their ownership, no Four Roses products were sold in the U.S.  Fortunately, after the brand was sold to Kirin in 2002, the decision was made to resume sales to the U.S. market in 2004.  As they have produced many great Bourbons for the U.S. market over the last 11 years, the Super Premium and “black label” offerings being exclusive to Japan now seems like only a small concession.

Plus, it only adds to the excitement of cracking this one open!

Four Roses Super Premium Review

Four Roses Super Premium Bottle


Bourbon Name: Four Roses Super Premium

Proof: 86

Age: NAS – no age statement


How I Drank It:  Neat, in Glencairn whisky glass.

My Nose Noticed:* Initially sweet with scents of caramel and vanilla.  Pear, apple, and honeydew fruits followed. It finished off with smells of oak, alcohol, and a slight hint of cloves.

First Sip: As the nose indicated, the very first thing I tasted was the sweetness of this bourbon. Unlike many young bourbons which get much of their sweetness from the corn, the flavor of this one was far more mature and developed. Tastes of caramel and vanilla gave way to a brief lavender floral flavor, before apple and pear flavors showed through. Overall, a complex and well-balanced bourbon with a medium mouth feel.

The Burn:** The finish of this Bourbon consisted mostly of oak, leather, and a slight spiciness with many subtle fruit and floral tastes mixed in. It transitions from oak to leather and back again while I try to identify the other flavors. Before I can fully place them, it leaves me with a nice, smooth burn. This odd mix of being completely satisfied with the flavors, yet still intrigued to identify the lesser fruity flavors definitely kept me coming back for another sip time and again.

Neat, Splash or Rocks: This bourbon is deep and complex as many have come to expect from Four Roses, yet very different from their typical U.S. offerings. It is a little less spicy with more sweetness and fruitiness than the three regular editions. It is not so tight or overpowering that it demands to be chilled or watered down. Without a doubt, this depth and uniqueness lands this bourbon squarely in the Neat category.

Share With: Anyone who can appreciate sipping on a complex, well-balanced bourbon.  Fans of Four Roses and other medium- to heavy-rye bourbons will especially enjoy this one.

Worth The Price: Since this bourbon is not available on the traditional U.S. market, prices vary widely. I would be more than happy to pick up a bottle for around the $50 asking price in larger Japanese markets, and didn’t mind paying the $65 that my sister-in-law found it for on a smaller off-shore island. That said, I wouldn’t pay much more, and especially not the $356 that is currently being asked on wine-searcher!

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: At $50 to $65 it is a bit on the steep side, but I would still recommend picking up a bottle if you come across one. While the flavor alone would land it perhaps around the $40 mark, I personally don’t mind paying a bit of a premium for the nice bottle and interesting story. Since part of the value is derived from these things, however, I wouldn’t pay the premium drink price to try it in a bar. Plus, let’s face it — unless you live in Japan, you’re not very likely to find it in a bar anyway!

*I like to let my whiskey sit in the glass for at least 5 minutes before I start to smell it or have a drink. I personally find that it’s better to let some of the alcohol waft off before diving in. If I’m drinking bourbon on the rocks I skip the waiting and dive in both feet first. In this case thought, the whiskey really required more like 20 minutes to balance out.

**Some of you refer to this as the “finish” but let’s be honest. Don’t we all just want to know if it burns good?