Celebrated Four Roses Senior Brand Ambassador Al Young, who spent 52 years with the iconic distillery, passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 77.
Young was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942, and quickly took a liking to performing, obtaining a master’s degree in theater and working in public relations for the Actors Theatre of Louisville. In 1967 took a job at the Louisville Seagram Distillery at the suggestion of his then fiancée, Gretchen, who thought the distilling industry more stable than acting. Two weeks after he began his role at the distillery, he married her.
He worked his way up over the decades, moving from Louisville to work at the Seagram’s Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana (now known as MGP) and eventually becoming the distillery manager in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky in 1990. He held the role until 2007, when he became a brand ambassador. In 2010, Young published Four Roses: The Return of a Whiskey Legend, a coffee table book on the history of the 131-year-old brand.
In 2017, Four Roses released a 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon in Al Young’s honor, celebrating his half a century of work at the distillery. This blend of 23-year-old OBSV, 15-year-old OBSK, 13-year-old OESV and 12-year-old OBSF contained bourbon distilled while Young was running the distillery. The bottle design, similar to those from the 1960s, was also a nod to his time there.
Young took great pleasure in his role, traveling around the country even through 2019 to share stories and bourbon with fans. The fun he had at his job was apparent to all who spent him with him to hear his stories.
“It really is a source of enjoyment for me because it’s fun to expose new people to Four Roses,” he said earlier this year. “It’s all about forming relationships with people. Four Roses, as a brand, is approachable and it should be welcoming to all despite the delicacies and intricacies of how it’s made. We want people to be open to us, and to tell us that they love our Bourbon. So, when people tell me about their experiences … I love it!”
“Al is a bourbon legend who’s passion, energy, and love for his job was absolutely contagious,” remembers Seth Thompson, publisher of The Bourbon Review. “His legacy will be celebrated forever by the many many people touched by his radiance.”