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Bulleit Bourbon vs Four Roses: What’s the Difference? (2022)

Last Updated on November 10, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Bulleit bourbon and Four Roses are two of the most famous budget bourbons on the market today.  

If you are torn between the two, here’s a comprehensive review on Bulleit Bourbon vs Four Roses to know which is better without spending an extra dime. 

Comparing Four Roses & Bulleit Bourbon 

Bulleit & Four Roses on desk

Bulleit bourbon and Four Roses are solid everyday whiskeys because of their affordability, but the price should never define which is the best. Both brands also have a rich history.

With Four Roses, we got a little overwhelmed with the smell of alcohol when we took a whiff, but it actually tasted a bit sweet and simple. This makes it ideal for beginners.

On the other hand, Bulleit bourbon smells like freshly cut grass with notes of sweet oak. But with its high rye content and higher ABV, the taste is smokier, richer, and bolder.

Despite their fair share of similarities, their differences in age statements, production process, and alcohol proof set them apart. 

Key Differences 

Key Differences 

History & Origin

Bulleit has established a great reputation in creating whiskies since 1987, and it is one of the fastest-growing whiskeys in America. It is distilled and aged in the Bulleit tradition-using a distinctive high rye recipe for a bolder, spicier but smooth taste. 

On the other hand, the history of Four Roses started way back in 1884 when Paul Jones Jr moved his business to Lousiville, Kentucky.

In 1888, he trademarked Four Roses, and in 1922, Paul Jones Company bought the Frankfort Distilling Company. It was then owned by Seagram before ending up with Kirin Holdings America Inc. 

Read: Popular Bulleit Bourbons 

Production & Aging Process

Production & Aging Process

Bulleit bourbon sources its whiskeys from Four Roses Distillery before. It means they possibly shared some similarities in the production and aging processes before ending the contract in late 2013.

Moreso, Bulleit is matured in new charred oak barrels for six years.

On the contrary, Four Roses uses five different yeast cultures to ferment the two mash bill recipes. It is then distilled and aged in new American oak casks in a single-story warehouse for a minimum of five years. 

Mash Bill

Bulleit bourbon uses a mash bill with 68% corn, 28% rye, and 4% malted barley. It is one of the bourbons with high rye on its mash bill, resulting in a bolder and spicier flavor profile. 

Four Roses use a combination of two mash bill recipes (1) mash bill E- 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley, and (2) mash bill B – 60% corn, 35% rye, and 5% malted barley. 

Age Statement & Alcohol Proof

Age Statement & Alcohol Proof

Both spirits are NAS, so they do not bear an age statement on their bottles. On a side note, Bulleit bourbon contains higher alcohol proof than Four Roses.

Bulleit contains 90 proof (45% ABV), while Four Roses have 80 proof (40% ABV). The 5% ABV difference makes Bulleit gain the upper hand in the game. 

Read: Bulleit Bourbon & Bulleit Rye Compared

Ownership & Distillery

As mentioned earlier, Bulleit was previously a sourced whiskey before its distillery was established in 2016 under Diageo [1].

In fact, Bulleit was sourced from Four Roses, but now it is produced in Bulleit Frontier Distillery. 

On the other hand, Four Roses bourbon is produced in Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceberg, Kentucky. Frankfort Distilling Co. owned it (1922) and then bought it by Seagram (1943).

Since 2002, Kirin Holdings America Inc (Kirin Brewery Company of Japan) has owned Four Roses [2]. 

Read: Our Top Four Roses Bourbon Bottles

Tasting Notes

Bulleit & Four Roses with glasses on table

Bulleit Bourbon 

  • Palate: Smooth tones of oak, maple, and nutmeg with gentle spiciness
  • Nose: Gentle, sweet oak and spicy aroma
  • Color: Medium amber
  • Finish: Long, dry with the light toffee flavor

Four Roses Yellow Label 

  • Palate: Smooth, crisp, fresh fruit with hints of apple and pear
  • Nose: Spicy, floral essence, fruity with subtle honey aroma
  • Color: Pale yellow or golden amber
  • Finish: Long, pleasant and mellow

Price Point & Value 

Four Roses bourbon is way cheaper than Bulleit bourbon. Based on Drizly and Caskers online, a 750 ml bottle of Four Roses is around $25, while Bulleit bourbon is approximately $38 per 750 ml.

Both brands are of good value and price point, so it is not surprising that whiskey lovers find both good as entry-level whiskies. 

Read: Four Roses Small Batch vs Single Barrel Bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon & Four Roses Common Prices

Bulleit Bourbon & Four Roses Common Prices

Brand

Size Alcohol Proof Average Price
Four Roses Yellow Label  750 ml 80

$25.99

Bulleit Bourbon

750 ml 90 $38.99
1.75 L

$70.99

*Average prices are based on Caskers online. Prices may vary in local liquor shops.

FAQs 

Which is a better sipper, Four Roses or Bulleit bourbon?

Bulleit bourbon is a better sipper than Four Roses. Bulleit bourbon has richer notes and a deeper flavor profile that is well appreciated when you sip it neat. We find Four Roses too thin and boring to drink neat.

Is Bulleit bourbon more beginner-friendly than Four Roses?

No. Four Roses bourbon is more beginner-friendly than Bulleit bourbon. Aside from its price point, the flavor profile of the Four Roses may also impress beginners. Novice drinkers may find Bulleit bourbon spicy and overwhelming, so it is best to go with Four Roses first. 

In Summary

Four Roses and Bulleit bourbon are of good quality and price point; however, Bulleit bourbon gains the upper hand because of its tasting notes, flavor profile, and alcohol proof. 

Whiskey aficionados and experienced drinkers will enjoy Bulleit because of its deep flavor profile and rich, spicy notes.

However, if you are new to drinking whiskey, there’s no harm in trying Four Roser because it is more affordable and easier to drink. 

References:

  1. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/behind-misleading-claims-fueling-america-s-bourbon-boom-n879651  
  2. https://www.pastemagazine.com/drink/whiskey/four-roses-bourbon-recipes-history/#the-brown-liquor-revival

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