Whisky Advocate

Legendary retired Four Roses master distiller Jim Rutledge emerges to start up a new distillery

April 28th, 2016

Author Melanie GochnauerJim Rutledge, former master distiller of Four Roses, announced today his plan to build, “… a modern, highly efficient, environmentally friendly, and sustainable distillery near Louisville, Ky.” Jim retired from Four Roses in September
jwrutledge2015. According to the press release, a 30-day crowd funding campaign will commence in May to kick off the endeavor Jim, along with two friends and business associates, have initiated. Details are available on the J.W. Rutledge distillery website. The distillery’s website offers the opportunity to vote on the first JW Rutledge-labeled bourbon’s mashbill. Plans include distillation of, “very high quality” Kentucky straight bourbons, a wheated bourbon, and to have a straight rye whiskey aging within the first year of operation. A mid-size distillery that ultimately may include a
 pot still in order to expand into other types of beverage alcohols is planned according to the website.

The recipient of Whisky Advocate magazine’s 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award, Jim is in his 50th year in the distilled spirits business. His career began in research and development at Seagram’s Calvert distillery in Louisville, Ky. He worked in almost all areas of production management at the distillery. “He also worked 15 years in Seagram’s New York Corporate Headquarters, prior to being transferred back to his Kentucky home and Seagram’s Four Roses Distillery operations in 1992,” according to the press release. In 1995, Jim became the master distiller at Four Roses.  He is recognized for the high-quality bourbons he produced at Four Roses and the role he played in returning Four Roses bourbon to the U.S. (it had been available only in international markets for four decades).

Welcome back to distilling, Jim!


5 Responses to “Legendary retired Four Roses master distiller Jim Rutledge emerges to start up a new distillery”

  1. Tanguy leguyader says:

    Excellent news, great initiative
    All the best from Michigan

  2. Andrew says:

    Amazing, I already cannot wait. Not sure there’s anyone in the world better equipped to make stunning whiskey. Congrats Jim, the legend continues.

  3. Marc from Ann Arbor says:

    Any guesses how many years it will be until the first bourbon (or rye) hits the bottle?

    • Fred Minnick says:

      Knowing Jim, I imagine he wouldn’t put anything out until it’s around six years old. It’s not impossible he’d release a white dog or purchase sourced whiskey, but he won’t release anything that isn’t of his quality standards.

  4. Wayne C. Parker says:

    Best of luck Mr. Bourbon, hope to enjoy some of your whiskey years down the road. In fact I may have enough to taste years from now from Foiur Roses. Bottles in Va ABC have replaced you as master distiller when we all know it’s your whiskey we are buying… Happy Trails!

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