The Four Roses Yellow Label review
Company: Four Roses
Age: No age statement (minimum of 4 years, rumoured to be between 5-6 years)
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: As with all the Four Roses bottlings we point the honourable reader to the Four Roses website for the mash bill explanation. Essentially it is a combination of 10 different recipes
Price: c. £30.00 (1 litre)
On October the 7th 2016 at 8pm local time, the Gents sat down to review a bourbon. The rest, as they say, is history.
That bourbon was Four Roses Yellow Label. We had tried and loved both the small batch and single barrel offerings already, and while we didn’t expect the standard version to be as good, we certainly didn’t expect what we actually got.
The responses to the review (at the time and in the years since) have been interesting. You can see from the comment left at the bottom of this page that people were not best pleased with us. We could have disabled the comments (on here and on social media) but that’s not our way. We have always been very clear that we give our honest opinions and that you don’t have to agree with them.
However, we are also not closed minded enough to think that things never change. So it is our intention very soon to re visit Yellow Label and review it again. For now though, here is our original review…
Just give us enough time to go hide behind the couch before you start reading.
Yellow Label is the Four Roses entry level bourbon. Other regulars are Four Roses Small Batch and Four Roses Single Barrel. The whiskey itself has had an eventful series of events in it's long history. It was one of only a handle of bourbons which was available as medicine during prohibition (1919 – 1933) and it quickly became the best-selling bourbon in America after prohibition was repealed. So if you owned the best-selling bourbon brand in America for over nearly 3 decades (1930’s – 1950’s) what would you decide to do next? I expect to remove it from sale would not be your first choice, but that is exactly what Seagram's did to concentrate on their sales of blended whiskey in the US. So the marketing emphasis on the brand moved entirely to Europe and Asia.
It took until 1996 for the Four Roses brand to return to its homeland and its owners would only allow it sold in Kentucky, have zero marketing budget and they only really wanted their only employees to buy it. All very odd if you ask us. After Seagram went out of business in 2001, the brand was juggled between owners before eventually being bought by Kirin who still own the brand today. Four Roses bourbon was introduced back into the US, firstly into Kentucky and then slowly back into other American states.
For this review we drank it neat in a crystal tumbler
What we got - Quite difficult to describe as not an awful lot springs to mind to be honest. The nose is a cross between alcohol and perfume (both of the cheap variety). Clearly not the aromas the Gents were wanting or expecting
What they say we should get - Pear and light fruitiness, floral, gentle spice, honey
What we got - Found it to be very weak and somewhat watery on initial entry with an aromatic sweet seasoning. Mav thought it to actually taste like sprayed perfume on the tongue. Again not what we were expecting.
What they say we should get - Crisp, yet soft & smooth, fresh fruit, hints of apple
What we got – Extremely short and disappears in an instant. Does not stay around long enough for an opinion to form on any additional flavours
What they say we should get - Soft & smooth
As you can probably tell, the Gents have really struggled nailing this bourbon with any positive thoughts. Mav summarised this drink as being a ‘ghost’ bourbon, no body or substance. It is, we are sad to say, a remarkably unimpressive drink with very few positive attributes.
Our intention on reviewing whiskey has always been to be open, honest and with integrity. We say what we think good or bad. No doubt some may be disappointed with our findings on this iconic labelled bourbon but it is no coincidence that we both felt this way and have not scored it particularly high. You may not agree with the Gents on this review but we will no doubt revisit this bourbon at some point and share our findings once again. We may have simply been unlucky enough to have received a bad bottle.
Yellow Label is inexpensive and the entry level offering from Four Roses but we have both found other, much cheaper bourbons, out there which have a far greater depth of flavour. All whiskey is worth trying at least once, and you may actually love it, so there is no reason not to buy it for your collection, but maybe keep it for a long drink or just invest a few more pennies for the much better small batch version. We still love Four Roses, we just don't love this particular offering of theirs.
3 out of 10 - Mav
3 out of 10 – Mr. Pie