Four Roses Yellow Label Review

Four Roses Yellow Label Review

There is a refined balance to Four Roses Yellow that surprises and delights every time I pour a glass. It’s hard to believe that this is their cheap entry level bourbon, but it speaks volumes about why the brand is getting all of the well deserved attention it’s picked up lately from critics and consumer’s alike. I’ve said it once before and I’ll continue to say it for the foreseeable future. Four Roses makes damn good bourbon.

As a brand Four Roses has been with us since 1888 and it’s seen some hard times over the last 126 years. In the 30’s, 40’s and most of the 50’s it was the top selling bourbon brand in America. Then, inexplicably, in the late 50’s the jerks at Seagrams (who owned it at the time) decided to stop selling it as a straight bourbon in America and started selling it as that disgusting rot-gut swill they call American Blended Whiskey. Meanwhile they shipped all of the straight bourbon to Europe and Asia.

Luckily for us the Japanese brand Kirin ended up owning Four Roses in the early 2000’s and put an end to that ABW silliness and brought Four Roses back to where it should have been all along. Since that time Four Roses has gone on to gather up a slew of awards and commendations and their master distiller Jim Rutledge, and his team, have been cranking out one delectable hit after another.

Being the basic offering from the distillery, it serves as a great introduction to the amazing products that Four Roses puts out and can contain all 10 of Four Roses bourbon recipes. It has all of the spicy rye and sweet bourbon notes that we’ve come to expect from Four Roses and is a much higher quality bourbon than almost all of the “bottom shelf” bourbons you’re going to run across. Overall it’s a moderately well balanced and flavorful bourbon that’s light without being weak and whose only shortcoming is a very short finish. Neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail it’s simply marvelous and definitely deserves a place in any home collection.

If you’ve tried the Four Roses Yellow please leave your own comments or tasting notes in the comments below.

Four Roses Yellow Review

ABV: 40%
Price: $20
Distiller: Four Roses

Medium caramel with medium legs.

The whole aroma is wrapped in a warm and inviting bourbon spice. Inside that wrapper is caramel with some honey and graham cracker. Under these lie some hints of corn, vanilla and a touch of tropical fruit and a very light rye. Much lighter rye notes in the nose than any of the small batch or single barrel bottles I’ve had.

Here’s where the Yellow label really comes into it’s own. Upfront we have a lot of warm caramel, vanilla and delightful bourbon spice. Corn, honey, rye and malt sit side by side with some light fruit flavors which are less tropical and more orchard on the palate. A bit of clove and a slight yeastiness rounds out the earthy undertones.

This is how I like my daily drinkers to feel. Smooth and warm with minimal burn.

The extremely short finish is at least pleasant with caramel and sweet toffee fading to soft oak and corn.

SCORE: 87/100

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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64 Responses to Four Roses Yellow Label Review

  1. I have bottle of Four Roses bourbon 86 proof yellow label imperial quart marked export u.s. Internal revenue 552731722 how old is this and is it safe too drink. Bottle has never ban opened.
    Please advise. thank you. C.Mitchell

  2. Four Roses is a very aromatic, beautifully mellow bourbon that is a great choice for someone beginning their bourbon journey. Great neat but don’t hesitate mixing it in an old fashioned.

  3. Four Roses WAS BOURBON when I was growing up….my step pappy was drunk on it damn near every day from when I was 11 years old (1957) til he finally died in 1985, the miserable bastard! At least he had good taste in his drink of choice (before the Seagram years anyway).

  4. Wow! Thanks for recommending this one. My sole “experience” with Four Roses up until recently was running across it in the books of Ferrol Sams, who referenced it repeatedly as the drink of choice in his fictionalized version of 1940s Georgia.

    I was amazed at how complex it was–I even picked up coffee on my last tasting of it–without being overwhelming. A simple sipper that also manages to dress up nicely.

    Once again, thanks for this blog; I’m discovering things I never thought I’d try.

  5. This runs for around €15 in Central Europe, and I have to say that Jim Beam White (€17.50) has absolutely no chance against the Yellow Label. This is a cheap bourbon with good nose and some character. I am a fan although I normally sip Scottish single malts.

  6. Been looking for something inexpensive, and yet good enough to be considered a daily dram, or something you might take with you to a gathering that could be enjoyed neat, or as a mixer…The Four Roses Yellow Label at 40% abv for $20 fits the bill nicely.

    Your score of 87 seems appropriate.

    • Thanks, it’s one of my favorites for all the reasons you listed above. Because it’s about $20 I never care if it gets killed off at a dinner party and most of the time if I buy a bottle to take to a friend’s house of something I’ll just leave it there for them to enjoy later (and they usually do).

  7. Thanks for the review! I recently started drinking bourbon. I have tried tried other whiskeys in the past, but for some reason bourbon is the most pleasing to me. I will pick up a bottle of this today!

  8. I’m kind of a bourbon “noob” but have been pouring over your reviews since I found your blog a couple of months ago. I decided on Four Roses Yellow and just had my first pour while going over your notes. It is a great gateway bourbon and I look forward to trying more of your recomendations. Keep up the good work.

  9. 4R Yellow is my go-to bourbon for making Manhattans……… never ceases to impress my guests……IMO, much more pleasing to the pallet than higher priced spirits. And it feels so nice enjoying something that has been with us for so long….like a nice comfortable pair of slippers.

  10. Finally remembered to get a bottle of this and try it.
    Very nice-mild but with a fantastic nose. Nice mild spicy sweet vanilla clove note.
    Glad I finally took time to try it .
    Reminds me of Wild Turkey Rye 81 which is a nice sipper.

  11. When I finally decided to try a bottle of this, it disappeared in my area. It’s still listed on the State’s ABC website as a stock item, but I’ve looked in stores in my area and others when I travel. It’s gone in North Carolina as far as I can tell.

  12. It is hard to find in Texas as well, and the price has gone up dramatically as the word has gotten around that is is a decent bourbon for the price. 2 years ago I could buy all the bottles of 4RY for about $15.00 per. Now it is $18 and hard to find.

    • Sucks when that happens. I used to find Weller 12 for $24 and it was always on the shelves. Now on the rare occurrence I do find it, it’s $45 – $70. I’ll begrudgingly pay the $45, but refuse to pay more. :/

  13. Four roses yellow label is great.. If they corked the bottle with a little flare to the bottle you would think K you were driving king a 80 dollar bottle

  14. Insanely good for the price. If you or hunting around the bottom shelf, you have to try this one. Makes you wonder about the $40-$50 bottles. Great for any drinking mixing purpose.

  15. Oh, that’s too harsh. Four Roses American Blended Whiskey wasn’t a rot-gut swill. It was far from contemporary Four Roses, that’s for sure, but it wasn’t a rot-gut swill. It wasn’t even unpleasant.

    • I was at the Four Roses distillery in 2015 as part of a trip through the Bourbon Trail and the guide used the words “Rock Gut” to describe the old product. So for what it’s worth they consider it rock gut.

  16. Hey Josh,

    Love the site. It is my go to whiskey blog and I love that you don’t beat around the bus with your ratings, if something isn’t good your ratings are going to reflect that. You mentioned some oak in the Finnish of this bourbon and I ussually like oak but I feel like I can almost taste the char in this one which I find a bit unpleasant. Have you ever found that? And if so have you found that in other four roses products? I’m wondering because I’m not a huge fan of that in bourbans but four roses is one of the few bourbon companies that doesn’t significantly overprice their products in Canada, so I’d love to support then and try another product.

    • Hi Ben,

      Thanks! No I haven’t ever gotten that, but it might also change a bit over years. The only whiskey I can think off, offhand, that I’ve picked up a char note on is old (18+) Heaven Hill.


      • I think my palate was off the day I tried this Whiskey. I put it down for awhile because I wasn’t a big fan and when I went back to it I quite liked it. Bought the single barrel now and i am looking forward to it!

  17. I bought a bottle of the Yellow Label 2 years ago, and it’s still unopened. I’m in Utah, and the store was able to order me one from some other store in the state. They told me at the time it might be the only bottle left in the state other than bars. I’m wondering if I should hold on to it for awhile as a mini-investment. Although I have no idea how I would go about advertising it to other Bourbon drinkers.

  18. Oh boy. I love ALL four roses products, and Yellow Label can’t be overlooked. I can get it for $15 at the store. Nuff said. It’s already amazing value, but if it had a longer finish it would easily be right up there, and better, than many of the whiskies I’ve had at three to four times the price. Hell, it already is honestly. Josh, thank you for educating me on this awesome, yet cheap, drink. Not all heroes wear capes.

  19. I just purchased a four roses yellow label for 12.99 locally. Is this same fourvroses you are giving an 87 as a grade???? Does not feel right. 12.99 at an 87?????

    • Low priced whikey can taste great (Wild Turkey 101) and high priced whiskey can taste terrible (Old Blowhard and Pappy 23). Price is rarely a bearing on quality, just a reflection of perceived value.


  20. I have yet to try the basic Four Roses Yellow Label (had some of the Single Barrel earlier this year- amazing!), but stumbled upon it today at a new to me liquor store- on sale for $15.99. Pulled out the iphone, pulled up The WhiskeyJug site, and bought a bottle because of this review! Can’t wait to try it as I’ve been looking to try out the lower and middle shelf, good value bourbons in my quest to pin down my own favorite, daily value sipper. Happy New Years!

  21. Maybe because I almost always drink 100 proof bourbons this bourbon just tastes light to me. I put off trying it for quite some time because it is 80 proof. On sale at 17.95 instead of 21.95 at my local ABC store I decided to give it a try. It has a lovely nose and flavor. I’m glad I tried it but I would rank it 2-3 points below your 87. I’m old enough to remember a time when conventional wisdom said that any good whiskey was at least 86 proof. I think that still holds true today.

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