Meet Four Roses Superfan Loren Simpson
February 22, 2023 –––––– Laura Pelner
One day back in 2010, California native-turned-Tennessee resident Loren Simpson walked into his local liquor store and happened upon a bourbon tasting. Both Simpson and his wife are certified sommeliers, but at the time had begun to feel their interest in wine was peaking. Being curious, Simpson took a sip of the bourbon, which was Four Roses. He liked what he tasted and bought a bottle on the spot.
“It was so good,” Simpson recalls. “I could enjoy it for an hour without ice. I went back and bought a case of Four Roses Single Barrel.”
Now, more than a decade later, Simpson’s personal collection has expanded to nearly 750 bottles of Four Roses. He has studied the brand in detail, learning about its 10 different recipes—based on various combinations of mashbills and yeasts—and developed a passion that has led him to become an unofficial Four Roses ambassador. His interest in the brand soared when he discovered how much information Four Roses willingly shares about its distillation process and recipes—something many other bourbon producers keep private.
Because of his sommelier background, Simpson is an accomplished taster who has become involved in many Four Roses private barrel selections, both for his local retail store and charity events. He also regularly hosts Four Roses educational seminars. His passion has led to many bourbon-based friendships and relationships with some of the key players at Four Roses, including master distiller Brent Elliott and private barrel selection manager Mandy Vance.
“Having a super fan like Loren is flattering and a validation of the quality of our products,” Elliott says. “Loren has a great palate and excellent taste. There’s a growing segment of bourbon drinkers who are super-educated and engaged, and Loren is highly regarded for his palate, knowledge, and generosity.”
Building A Collection
As he learned more about bourbon, Simpson’s goal was to procure two bottles—one to open and one to keep—of each of Four Roses’s 10 recipes so he could taste the differences. He also became friends with the owner of Bill’s Package Store in Clarksville, Tennessee, the liquor store where he was introduced to Four Roses. The owner later invited Simpson to the distillery to help pick a private barrel for the store, another life-changing bourbon moment for this dedicated fan.
“That launched a whole new playing field for me,” Simpson says. “It was such a great experience to go through a tasting at the special area of the distillery.” Simpson has since helped pick more than 30 Four Roses private barrels for Bill’s Package Store and more than 100 private barrels of the brand overall, including his various charity barrels. He tries to collect bottles from each barrel he picks.
“Somewhere along the way I looked around and saw a massive amount of Four Roses in my house,” Simpson remembers, adding that he and his wife started hosting private tastings in their home to go through their collection. They ended up converting a 600-square-foot room in their house into a Four Roses mecca that now holds anywhere from 500 to 750 bottles of bourbon. “I try to keep 100 bottles open at a time,” he says. “There are always new ones coming in and others being finished. My collection is focused now primarily on barrels I’ve picked or barrels that were picked by someone I respect, along with well-picked store barrels and the Four Roses recipes that I’m fond of—usually OESK and OESV.”
Both expressions are made with the OE mashbill consisting of 75% corn, 20% rye, and 5% malted barley, and the SV features a fruit-forward yeast while SK highlights a spicy yeast. Along with his massive bottle collection, Simpson has a bourbon safe, too. He siphons off a few ounces from his prized bottles into sample bottles, which go into his archival safe. He estimates he has 300 mini bottles in there, which he saves for special occasions after he’s emptied the full bottles.
Once his private tastings were up and running, Simpson began focusing on charity. A retired army veteran, he works with Special Ops Xcursions out of Nashville, donating profits from his large-format tasting events to this non-profit for military members. Simpson is hosting his sixth large event in June. His charity tastings usually sell out, and have grown from roughly 90 participants in 2017 to more than 350 in 2021. He estimates that overall, he’s donated about 400 bottles of Four Roses to charity events and auctions.
When not sipping Four Roses, Simpson enjoys photography, but here too he taps into his passion, usually posting a daily Four Roses-themed photo in private Facebook and Instagram bourbon groups. He has also published several of the photo collections into coffee table-style books that he gives to friends in the bourbon community and sells at his annual Four Roses charity event. Simpson visits the Four Roses distillery at least once a month, regularly making the three-hour drive from his Tennessee home.
“It’s an honor to unofficially be part of Four Roses. I wear the shirts, drink from Four Roses glasses, have coasters, and a Four Roses barrel table. I have a Four Roses clock and barrels in my yard. I talk about Four Roses all the time. My passion for Four Roses will never end; I continue to collect and enjoy it nearly daily.”
SUPER - FAN FACTS
Loren Simpson Four Roses Super-Fan
DAILY DRINKER OESV and OESK private barrel selections
THE ONE HE DREAMS OF TRYING OESV Friday the 13th edition
THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH FOUR ROSES Transparency, charity, tasting
MOST MEMORABLE FOUR ROSES MOMENT Being part of a group that won a Four Roses extra-aged private barrel and premium experience with master distiller Brent Elliott at a charity auction. The package went for $279,000 and a few weeks after winning, the group enjoyed a two-day Four Roses experience that culminated in selecting the oldest-ever private barrel of Four Roses.
MOST EXTREME THING HE’S DONE FOR FOUR ROSES Consistently finding, opening, and rotating through 100 bottles to keep his 10 sets of all 10 Four Roses recipes intact. He has also taken more than 1,500 photos of Four Roses that he posts online and publishes in his coffee table-style books.