Celebrating 50 Years With Brand Ambassador Al Young of Four Roses

June 21, 2017

obc kitchen pop up tasting four roses

On June 20, OBC Kitchen and Four Roses teamed up for another pop-up tasting! When I heard about it, I knew I had to go! You may remember the last time I went back in September, when I had the opportunity to taste the 2016 Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon with Master Distiller Brent Elliott. This time it was for Senior Brand Ambassador Al Young’s 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon (Al was also at the previous event too!). This was yet another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (and it was also Al’s birthday!). 

I was the first to arrive again! What can I say, I am an overachiever! In all seriousness though, bourbon has become more popular than ever (I mean, we are in Kentucky, so it’s always been popular, but more and more people are trying it that never have before). I had no idea what time people were going to start arriving. Better safe than sorry.

What is a pop-up tasting?

This particular event was announced a few days ago, but the only information known about the event was the time, date, and what bourbon would be tasted. On the day of the event, at noon, the location was announced, so it was extremely important to be following Four Roses on facebook and twitter, since the details would be updated across their social media accounts. Come to find out the event was going to be held at OBC Kitchen. I sort of had a feeling it would be, since a) OBC Kitchen is a bourbon bar and b) the pop-up tasting that Four Roses had in the fall was also there. Most importantly, only the first fifty people would be allowed to attend.

Where is OBC? Where it is located?

OBC Kitchen (Old Bourbon County) is part of the Bluegrass Hospitality Group (They own Malone’s and other top-notch restaurants across Lexington. Malone’s is one of the top steakhouses in North America) and is located off of Tates Creek Road in the Landsdowne Shopping Center. OBC Kitchen is a local, chef-driven restaurant that houses an extremely rare bourbon collection, eclectic craft beer selection and extensive wine list. They have over 300 bourbons to choose from.

Who is Al Young?

Al Young is such a nice and very knowledgeable guy! Al Young has had a wide variety of roles for the past 50 years at Four Roses. He became the Distillery Manager in 1990 and was named Brand Ambassador in 2007. This role allowed him to visit all over the country to share the story of Four Roses and its bourbon. Not only is he the Brand Ambassador, he is a historian, and wrote the book, Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend, which was published in 2010. For the book, he researched archives, distillery records, news account, photos, and artifacts. Al Young is a member of the Kentucky Distiller’s Association Bourbon Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Whiskey Hall of Fame in 2015. You can check out the full in depth interview; here.

al young 50th anniversary bourbon

What makes this particular bourbon so special?

The Al Young 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon was launched on June 10 and immediately sold out! People stood outside at the distillery in hopes of getting a bottle of their own. There were only 10,000 of these bottles produced and the MSRP was $150. The outside of the bottle is a throwback to the design from 1967, which is the year that Al Young started at Four Roses.

Four Roses is the only bourbon distillery that combines two mash bills with five separate yeast strains, creating 10 distinct bourbon recipes that are always noted on the bottles. This special edition includes 5 percent of a 23-year-old OBSV recipe (showing off a delicate fruitiness, with hints of spice and creamy vanilla and caramel); 25 percent of a 15-year-old OBSK (full-bodied, light spice, caramel); 50 percent of a 13-year-old OESV (light, creamy, fruity); and 20 percent of a 12-year-old OBSF (herbal, full-bodied). The proof of the bourbon is 107.

obc kitchen four roses bourbon

I’m confused. What do all of those letters mean? OBSV? OBSK?

Each bourbon recipe has four letter designations. The first letter and third letter will always stay the same (The first letter indicates that is was produced at the distillery in Lawrenceburg. The third letter designates straight bourbon distillation). The second letter and fourth letter will change depending on the mash bill and yeast strain used.

The two mashbills (the second letter):

Mashbill E: 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley
Mashbill B: 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley

The five proprietary yeast strains (the fourth letter):

V: Light fruitiness, light vanilla, caramel, and creamy
K: Light spiciness, light caramel, and full-bodied
O: Rich fruitiness, light vanilla, caramel, and full-bodied
Q: Essences of floral aromas
F: Essences of herbal aromas

The ten bourbon recipes:

  • OESK
  • OESQ
  • OESO
  • OESF
  • OESV
  • OBSK
  • OBSQ
  • OBSO
  • OBSF
  • OBSV

bourbon tasting at obc kitchen

What did it taste like?

The nose was sweet like caramel and vanilla, and the body had hints of maple syrup. The finish had a bit of spice to it.

Here’s what Fred Minnick. Wall Street Journal-bestselling author and Bourbon Authority for the Kentucky Derby Museum, had to say:

A caramel-laden fruit bouquet, followed by unending vanilla, leather, tobacco, cotton candy, marshmallow, quince, cinnamon, hints of juniper, and wildflowers. Then, brown sugar butter and maple syrup over buttermilk pancakes, Cracker Jack, raw honey, bittersweet chocolate, and hints of pecan shell. Extremely long finish with a fried apple pie note. An incredibly complex and intense, must-have sipper. Perfection. —Fred Minnick”

obc kitchen appetizers

What do you do at a pop-up tasting?

At this tasting, we were given two tickets; one for a free cocktail made with Four Roses Bourbon and another for the tasting. Along with the cocktails, we were able to have the many delicious appetizers courtesy of OBC Kitchen.

bacon in a glass obc kitchen

I know I say this a lot, but if you haven’t tried the Bacon in a Glass, you are missing out! It’s honey bourbon, sugar glazed bacon, which you can dip in a peanut butter accompaniment. Yes, bourbon and peanut butter! It just works! (Now, I just have to get my husband to come with me to OBC Kitchen. Maybe we can celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary there!)

obc kitchen appetizers

They were so kind to provide us with many other appetizers as well!

Each guest was able to receive the book, Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend and have Al Young himself sign it. In addition to that, everyone received a special Al Young 50th Anniversary glass and a set of four Four Roses whiskey stones.

After the tasting, we also got to help Al celebrate his birthday!

Bourbon events are always such a good time. It gives you the opportunity to meet people that you probably wouldn’t normally get the chance to meet. You can bond over your love of bourbon and get to know one another over appetizers and drinks. Bourbon drinkers and Kentuckians are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. It’s that Southern hospitality!

When is the next one?

One hasn’t been announced yet, but the tasting events seems to correspond with special releases. I would follow Four Roses on facebook and twitter, so you’ll be informed of any new releases or upcoming events!


Be sure to use #AlTaughtMe on social media to share stories about what Al has taught you!

  • Shannon @ Lady's Little Loves June 21, 2017 at 10:09 am

    What a fun evening! Everything looked beautiful!

    • Whitney S. June 21, 2017 at 11:33 pm

      I love how they always use Four Roses bottles as vases!

  • Ashley | Far Beyond Love June 21, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Girl, I LOVE Four Roses!! It’s my favorite bourbon and I have so much envy that you attended a pop-up tasting. That sounds incredible. I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.

    • Whitney S. June 21, 2017 at 11:34 pm

      That’s so awesome!! Yay for a fellow bourbon lover! Have you ever toured the distillery?

  • Samantha O'Brian Summers June 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Oh I bet this was a wonderful event to attend! Unfortunately, there aren’t any bourbon tastings around here and I can’t think of any distilleries for that matter. Yet again, you’re convincing me that I need to come up to visit. *Sigh*

    • Whitney S. June 21, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      Oh no! Where do you live? You should come to Kentucky! Kentucky is responsible for 95% of the world’s bourbon, so we have tons of distilleries as well as microdistilleries!

  • Heather Rene June 21, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    If I could drink (my body is completely intolerant to all alcoholic drinks) then I would love to try this, sounds tasty! Going to keep in mind for gifts for my bourbon friends.

    • Whitney S. June 21, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      Definitely keep your eye out! This one would be rather difficult, if not impossible to find!

  • Sonyo Estavillo June 21, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    I had no idea that bourbon had those types of letters and recipes to go along with it. I’ve never really tried it. I’m more of a red wine person. I like the food, it looks delicious and the event sounds like a ton of fun. 🙂

    • Whitney S. June 21, 2017 at 11:36 pm

      The letters are only with Four Roses. Other bourbon distilleries don’t use these letters 🙂

  • Alexandria June 21, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    I’ve never heard of a pop up tasting before! This was very informative about four roses!

    • Whitney S. June 21, 2017 at 11:37 pm

      This was the second one I’ve been to! It was pretty exciting. I can’t wait until they do another!

  • Taylor Mobley June 22, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I don’t drink, but this sounds like an amazing brand! So many possibilities!

    • Whitney S. June 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      They have a pretty cool story of how they came up with the name!!

      The founder of Four Roses Bourbon, became smitten by the beauty of a Southern belle. It is said that he sent a proposal to her, and she replied that if her answer were “Yes,” she would wear a corsage of roses on her gown to the upcoming grand ball. He waited for her answer excitedly on that night of the grand ball…when she arrived in her beautiful gown, she wore a corsage of four red roses. He later named his Bourbon “Four Roses” as a symbol of his devout passion for the lovely belle, a passion he thereafter transferred to making his beloved Four Roses Bourbon.

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    Hey y'all! My name is Whitney, and I'm the founder of Fabulous in Fayette. I've been living in Lexington since 2008. I'm in love with my city of Lexington and love all the amazing local businesses and restaurants. It's seriously one of the best places to live!

    Not to be confused with Fayetteville, North Carolina. Fabulous in Fayette celebrates the fabulous city of Lexington, the great state of Kentucky, and Southern Living. In case you are not from here, Fayette refers to the county where Lexington is located!

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