The Romantic Origin Story Of Four Roses Bourbon

Roses have long been a symbol of love with roots in Greek mythology (per FTD). In accordance with the flower used in its name, Four Roses, one of the best American whiskey brands, also has a history full of romance and passion. The inspiration for the bourbon company's moniker comes from a love story, going back more than 100 years ago, that lives on through its bottles of liquor.

The name Four Roses wasn't trademarked by distillery owner Paul Jones Jr. until 1888, but he had supposedly been making and selling the bourbon (which is different from cognac) since the 1860s, according to the company website. His business made its presence known with an office in Louisville's Whiskey Row on Main Street in Kentucky. Americans soon fell in love with Jones' liquor, resulting in Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon becoming one of the best-selling bourbons in the United States. As a leader in the market, the brand attracted the interest of Seagram's, which purchased the parent company Frankfurt Distilling Co. in 1943 (via VinePair). Despite the popularity of the bourbon and its strong sales, Seagram's stopped selling it stateside in the 1950s, focusing on European and Asian markets instead.

But America's love story with Four Roses wasn't over. The spark was rekindled in 2002 when Kirin Brewery Company, Ltd. acquired the whiskey's brand trademark and production facilities. The name given to the new operations was Four Roses Distillery LLC and sales resumed in the U.S.

Love for a Southern belle

Jones is said to have named Four Roses after the love he had for a beautiful woman. The story goes that when he sent a proposal to a Southern belle, he asked her to wear a corsage of roses to an upcoming ball as a sign of her consent. During the night of the dance, she wore four roses on her dress, leading Jones to brand his company after that special moment and tap into the same passion he felt then when it came to making bourbon.

Like a healthy relationship, making bourbon takes time and attentiveness, and the signature straight bourbon from Four Roses is aged for a minimum of five years (via Breaking Bourbon). It's a blend of corn, rye, and malted barley — a combination of the company's 10 bourbon recipes. On its website, the brand also lists limited-edition, single-barrel, and small-batch bourbons for sale. And just as it may be considered rude to ask a woman her age, the same can be said of Four Roses. The company doesn't advertise the ages of its liquors on the bottles, but they generally range from five to seven years old, per VinePair.

While the name of the belle who helped to inspire Four Roses may be long forgotten, the love she inspired lives on in the bourbon made in her honor.