Four Roses Distillery had quite a set-up at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival Gala on Saturday night in Bardstown. Here, I’m enjoying a glass of Four Roses Single Barrel while standing next to a sculpture that captured the brand’s iconic blooms in ice. Four Roses employees who weren’t pouring were busy pinning roses on gentlemen’s lapels and applying temporary Four Roses tattoos on ladies’ arms and shoulders.
Master distiller Jim Rutledge was greeting fans and posing for photos. Like most master distillers, he spends a lot of his time outside the distillery, educating the public and representing the brand. But that’s OK with him - spreading the Four Roses gospel is one of his favorite parts of a job he worked a long time to secure.
“It takes years and years and years” to become a master distiller, he said. “This November will be 46 years in the business for me, and I was in the business 29 years before I became master distiller. So it’s a lifelong dream come true. All the distillers just have a love and a passion for what they do – for the industry, for all bourbon in general, and in particular their brand. That’s why you see so many old master distillers, because once we get it, we love it so much that, you know, let us die with our boots on, I guess. The young people may not like it, but it’s just an honor to be able to represent a particular brand as a master distiller.”
Many thanks to Jim and to Four Roses for hosting me at the Gala!