View Full Version : Origins of EAGLE RARE

Old Lamplighter
04-09-2007, 13:10
Perhaps someone can answer a few questions I have in terms of the origin of Eagle Rare, OR, be so kind to point me to a past thread that addresses same. Somewhere back in time - although my memory is fuzzy beyond 5-10 years, I seem to recall that Seagrams once had something to do with the ER label. Is that correct, and, did they create the original offering? If not, who did? Also, is there actually an "Old Prentiss Distillery" as such - either past or present - or does it exist on the label alone. If there is a distillery by that name, what is the history behind it.....an old family name, etc.?

I have for years been a big, big fan of ER101 though it is growing scarcer nowadays. Also, I have a growing infatuation with ERSB90. Every bottle I get of the latter seems to be a little better than the previous one although I am aware as a single barrel offering, it will not be as uniform each time as the old ER101. In any event, the newer ER is growing on me with each pour.

Thanks for any and all help.

04-09-2007, 15:44
look here for Old Prentice (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5261&highlight=old+prentice)

and here (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=57686&postcount=229)

and here (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=60014&postcount=14)

04-09-2007, 16:23
Eagle Rare was created by Charlie Beam for Seagram's in the early 1970s, or thereabouts. It was one of the last new Bourbon brands created until Booker's and Blanton's came along in the late 1980s. Charlie was master distiller at what is now Four Roses, which was owned by Seagram's at the time. Eagle Rare was a Wild Turkey knock-off, hence the bird theme and 101 proof. Sazerac acquired it in 1989.

Old Lamplighter
04-09-2007, 16:45
Thanks guys for the links and info. BTW, I should have been looking at the bottle when trying to spell the name of the distillery.:rolleyes: Thanks again.

04-10-2007, 05:42
I know early bottles of this stuff were from Old Prentice-Lawrenceberg. Then there were bottles from Old Prentice-New Orleans (with UPC 88004 - BT) and finally bottles from Frankfort (UPC 88004- BT). Does anyone know the timelines or stories behind these various bottlings. I know that Seagrams owned the label and that probably explains Lawrenceberg, but how and when did the rest happen?
Joe :usflag:

04-10-2007, 06:00
I know early bottles of this stuff were from Old Prentice-Lawrenceberg. Then there were bottles from Old Prentice-New Orleans (with UPC 88004 - BT) and finally bottles from Frankfort (UPC 88004- BT). Does anyone know the timelines or stories behind these various bottlings. I know that Seagrams owned the label and that probably explains Lawrenceberg, but how and when did the rest happen?
Joe :usflag:

Eagle Rare actually comes from BT mash bill #1, whereas, AA comes from BT #2. I also just spoke with the bottling manager and he said the last New Orleans product was probably bottled in early 1997.


I have spoken with Sazerac president, Mark Brown, and can report the following.
1. Sazerac bought Eagle Rare and Benchmark from Seagram in 1989.
2. The Eagle Rare 17 was made here from Mash Bill Rye-1 (1981).
3. Benchmark, recently awarded the Best of Show at the International Spirits Challenge 2000 (London), will continue to be released under the same name.
4. Seagram's did release a knockoff of Jack Daniel's - #1 Bourbon Street. It did not live up to expectations. Perhaps Benchmark was also intended to battle JD, however, we can't verify that. Seagram had been trying to break into the premium bourbon category and they apparently thought a contempory package was the answer. It was not. Also, we did not buy it.
5. Kentucky Rain was a bourbon that was introduced primarily because we wanted to legally protect the name "Rain". You see, we are the only distillery in Kentucky that also produces vodka, namely, Rain Vodka. This product is made of 100% organically grown corn and is consistently rated in the top 10 internationally. It is generally rated as the #1 vodka produced in the states.

Some general information. Seymour Leikind ran Austin Nichols and was then hired by Seagram's to run General Wine and Spirit. This outfit introduced Eagle Rare. So, my assumption is that Eagle Rare was to compete with Wild Turkey. We have changed that strategy. Not only is the eagle a distinct American icon, it also flys better than a turkey.
Old Prentice is the original name for the "Spanish Mission". Originally owned by J.T.S. Brown, when we bought Eagle Rare from Seagram, they sold us the name. I can't say when Four Roses was first made there.
Finally, Benchmark was introduced in the 60s and Eagle Rare in the 80s.


I think these should cover it

So, New Orleans bottled from 89 to 97 or so then on to BT

04-10-2007, 11:37
The original Seagram's Eagle Rare was distilled at Four Roses in Lawrenceburg. Presumably it was aged and bottled at Lotus, but Seagrams also had a big facility in Louisville at that time.

After Seagram's sold the brand to Sazerac, there was a period when Sazerac was buying whiskey from Heaven Hill for its whiskeys. Heaven Hill may actually have been doing the bottling too. Companies have a lot of flexibility about what location they put on the label. Sazerac chose New Orleans because it is headquartered there, but that doesn't necessarily mean the product was even actually bottled there. I suspect it was bottled at Heaven Hill.

When Sazerac bought what is now Buffalo Trace they began to use whiskey distilled there and began to bottle there as well. The switch to Frankfort on the label doesn't necessarily mean anything more than a business decision to change from one place-of-business to another, after the company made the decision to focus its bourbon operations on the Kentucky facility.

04-11-2007, 04:28
Ken Weber stated that the last New Orleans bottlings occured in 1997. I have a liter from New Orleans on which the bottle bottom date is 2002. More DBA label games?????????
Joe :usflag:

04-11-2007, 08:21
Ken Weber stated that the last New Orleans bottlings occured in 1997. I have a liter from New Orleans on which the bottle bottom date is 2002. More DBA label games?????????
Joe :usflag:

Maybe it's the equally popular "using up the old labels."


04-11-2007, 11:23
As I said, producers have a lot of flexibility about what location they put on the label. The last company I would criticize would be Sazerac-Buffalo Trace, as they consistently have been the most forthright producer in the industry when it comes to provenance information.

Old Lamplighter
04-14-2007, 00:16
Thanks everyone for all the great info. Now I know the history of one of my all time favorites. I have managed to bunker a few of the ER101s and hope to find some of the L'burg bottles during my hunting days ahead. Appreciate all the info and help with the history. Thanks Again!

04-28-2007, 05:58
As a big fan of the ER 101, I have recently tried some of the other aged products from BT. Ancient Ancient Age 10 year and 10 star are very tasty. It's not an all out full flavored bird like ER but it is a very tasty pour with some of the great flavors found in ER. My first try was a bottle of 10 star from 1988. Had some older juice in it than my recent purchase of current product, though both are easy to drink. AAA is more in the toffey range than the ER. Hope you enjoy.

07-08-2007, 13:56
Bumping this because of something Chuck posted over at...er...some other forum. I'd heard varying reports over time about ER 101 being better from this or that site (usually the claim was that N.O. was superior). I also remember mozilla posting that it was all BT juice (except the early Seagram's stuff... which in a way was also BT). At any rate, Chuck posted recently that HH produced quite a bit of ER, particularly stuff bottled at New Orleans.

Now, I've had mostly Frankfort-issued bottles of ER101. The one exception was a New Orleans bottle that Grain Brain had several months ago that was...not bad, but odd and not like other ER that I've tasted. Something vaguely herbal or uniquely spicy, maybe? We couldn't put our finger on it. I had/have 3 1L bottles of N.O. product in my bunker, so I promptly pulled one out. Hmmm... there's the same flavor I picked up in the bottle Grain Brain had, but what is it? I opened my other two New Orleans bottles on the spot. One carried this same flavor; the other did not, and tasted like the more recent Frankfort bottlings I've had. I could't figure out where else I'd tasted this sort of leafy taste or the drying woodiness that followed it, but I knew I didn't like it.

So, today, I opened a bottle I'd bought on a whim because it was cheap, even though I'd had the bourbon before and not liked it. The aroma was...New Orleans Eagle Rare. The flavor - yep, there it is. Camphor, that's the word I've been looking for. Like a saison I made once with way too much Grains of Paradise and some oak aging.

The bottle in question? Elijah Craig 12. I've tasted similar things in the EW 1783 I've had.

So, maybe I'm crazy, but has anyone here had an New Orleans Eagle Rare that tasted like EW 1783 or Elijah Craig 12? And, further, does anyone have any info on how long HH made ER 101 for Sazerac?

Oh, and does anyone want 2 1L bottles of ER 101 with about a 1 oz. pour missing from each?

07-08-2007, 16:20
The best ER101 I ever had was made at Old Prentice - Lawrenceburg (Forerunner of Four Roses). The NO stuff is not as good but still very good IMO. I like it better than the Frankfort bottling. I do not get any hints of HH in any of the NO bottles that I've had, but that does not mean that it's not there. If it is, I can't pick up on it. PM me as to how much money you want for the open NO bottles.
Joe :usflag:

07-08-2007, 22:47
While it's possible that the earliest Eagle Rare labeled New Orleans is Seagram's bourbon that Sazerac obtained with the brand, there was a period when Heaven Hill was their whiskey supplier, before they acquired Buffalo Trace. It wasn't a very long period, just a few years. Putting New Orleans on the label, since that is where Sazerac has its principal place of business, gave them flexibility to obtain whiskey and bottling services anywhere they wished, although I know their primary relationship was with Heaven Hill. I suspect Heaven Hill was also handling the bottling, although it's possible they were doing it in New Orleans. The city named on the label doesn't really tell you that, as it's really up to the company (within certain guidelines) what city they choose to use.

07-09-2007, 19:15
For the record, I should point out that I don't detect the noted eucalyptus/camphor in all HH bottles (or even all Elijah Craig - Grain Brain had a bottle I liked; I know there's a lot of variation within that label/brand). I've never noted it in the lesser-aged stuff, in EWSB, etc. - just 10yo EW1783, EC12 (two different bottles), and now some ER 101 at 10 years old or better.
And, as Chuck points out, there's no way to know if the bottles I have are HH distillate or not.
Still, it was an interesting confluence of events, tastes, and information that I think indicates probably the two bottles from N.O. I didn't like were HH and the third was not.

07-10-2007, 06:17
Thanks for the info on your bottles. I have already started to taste some of my different bottlings of ER in hopes of shedding some more light on the subject. I have a 1.75 ltr from N.O. dated 1998 open right now, tastes like BT to me. I will go back and check it against a few of my older HH brands (Dowlings 8 yr BiB, EW master dist. select and very rare old HH Bib) to see if there are some similarities.
Was there a range of dates that were more likely to be HH than BT? I will search my bunker for alternate bottling dates and do some research.
Jeff Mo.

07-10-2007, 08:56
So far I have found this:
1. 750 ml 0874130 Lawrenceburg, just a few drops left in bottle. Distilled by Old Prentice, 1983
2. 750 ml 08800402114 New Orleans, unopened. Bottled by OP, 1992
3. 750 ml 08800402114 Frankfort, opened. Bottled by OP, 1999
4. 1.75 ml 08800402112 New Orleans, unopened. Bottled by OP, 1995
5. 1.75 ml 08800402112 New Orleans, opened. Bottled by OP, 1998

07-10-2007, 23:45
Now that there is some interesting information, because it tells us they changed the city name on the label from New Orleans to Frankfort in 1998 or 1999. What else happened at about that time? On June 1, 1999, Sazerac announced the name change of their Frankfort distillery from Leestown Company Inc. to Buffalo Trace Distillery Inc. That was a few months after Sazerac bought Old Charter and W. L. Weller.

The thing I find a little hazy about Sazerac's history is the role of Takara Shuzo and what, exactly, happened in the early 1990s. There's another company in the mix, called Age International, which was operated out of New York by two guys named Ferdie Falk and Bob Baranaskas.

In 1983, Schenley sold the Ancient Age brands and the Albert B. Blanton Distillery (i.e., Buffalo Trace) to Age International (i.e., Falk and Baranaskas). Then, in 1992, they sold the kit and kaboodle to Takara Shuzo Co., Inc. of Kyoto, Japan. Sazerac comes into the picture at this point, but I'm not sure exactly how. Takara never did business directly in the United States. Their sole interest seems to have been an assured supply for their Japanese markets. Blanton's was created for the Japanese market so presumably Takara was partnered with Falk and Baranaskas from the beginning, and Sazerac took over the role Falk and Baranaskas had played.

But, at least at the time, in 1992, the Courier-Journal (Louisville's paper) reported that Takara was buying the operation, not Sazerac.

Takara is still in the picture today, in that they own the Blanton's brand, so they're a little more than a customer, maybe more like a joint venture partner.

It seems like sometime between 1992 and 1999, perhaps in a gradual process, Sazerac took over the distillery and most of its brands, reorganized itself to put its entire American whiskey operation in Frankfort, not just production but also marketing and sales, and the Buffalo Trace we know today was born.

11-20-2007, 20:25
At two different liquor stores yesterday I found several bottles of ER101 10yo, Frankfort (at least the ones I checked, and there's no reason to believe that these aren't all that remain of single case purchases).

What would be a reasonable price for the bourbon in these bottles? I don't remember what it was priced, but it may have been around $20. Should I go back and get one?

Bourbon budget is tight due to BTAC and some dusties I bought today.

06-04-2008, 18:51
wow, I just all these posts from the start and my head is spinning!
I picked up two of the er101, one from NO that I brought to the gazebo for my first spring sampler this year, the other from Frankfort that I purchased tonight and as of yet have not tasted.
The NO bottle has some good juice in it though. Both were twenty bucks and from the same store, tonights was the last one they had.