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View Full Version : Waterfill Frazier - Juarez, Mexico



doubleblank
08-13-2007, 09:29
I posted several years ago about making a trip with Jeff and Gregg to Juarez to visit the Kentucky Club. We spotted an old Waterfill Frazier bottle in a glass cabinet behind the bar. We were well into the tequilla by then and didn't get a close look at it. Jeff recently had to return to El Paso on a family matter and made the trek across the border to see if the owner would part with the bottle. Alas, he didn't, but Jeff did get some nice pics of the bottle. The whiskey is eight years old and bottled on September 7th, 1927. Bettye Jo's family moved a distillery from KY to Juarez during prohibition. The distillery is still in operation and today makes an "Amercian" whiskey using used bourbon barrels. Jeff tried it but said it was unremarkable so he didn't bring any back.

The Kentucky Club has been in Juarez since 1920 and the walls are adorned with photos of various celebreties who have stopped by for a cocktail (John Wayne, et al). If for some reason you find yourself in Juarez, you need to make a stop here. Anyway, here are the pics.

doubleblank
08-13-2007, 09:32
Here's a pic of the bar itself.

OscarV
08-13-2007, 09:40
Nice story and pics.
I for one appreciate stuff like this.
Thanks for the post.

the wraith
10-22-2007, 14:18
Let me start by saying hello... Cool place yall got here.

Now why I'm here. I live in Indio Ca. a long way from Juarez. But not to far from the Mexican border. Any way, I spend a lot of my free time wondering the canyons and mountains here... On my way through 6000 feet and many miles from civilization I found a Waterfill and Frazier "Pure American Whiskey" bottle tucked away. This area that I was in is known to have had a lot of horse thief traffic.

I know I'm getting off topic. This is about the bottle... The only other markings on the bottle are "Kentucky 1810 Juarez 1927" on the bottom of the backside of the bottle. On the top of the front side are the weight markings, "0.47 1/3 LITRO." There is a metal ring around the stem that just restates all of that stuff. Of and there are no threads on the stem. Looks like it must have needed a cork.

I'm sure your just itching to ask for pictures so know that I'm on that...

Thanks for looking and anyone have any info on my find I'd be stoked. Thanks in advance...

cowdery
10-22-2007, 15:44
Elsewhere on this site, Bettye Jo Boone has related how, during Prohibition, her grandfather, Harry Beam, and great grandfather, Joe Beam, disassembled the Waterfill and Frazier Distillery in Bardstown, transported the pieces to Juarez, reassembled them there, and resumed making whiskey. They stayed there several years doing that. Harry was just a young boy when they went and essentially grew up in Mexico. I don't know much about the plant other than that, nor if it operated after prohibition, but a bottle from that distillery appears to be what you have. Mexico didn't have Prohibition, so it was legal there, but probably a bottle or two managed to cross the border into the USA.

According to Sam Cecil's book, the original plant at Tyrone was established in 1810. J.M. Waterfill and George H. Frazier bought it in the 1860s. Cecil doesn't have a date for the establishment of the Juarez plant, so the 1927 date is a contribution to our knowledge. Joe, Harry and the Waterfill & Frazier name returned to Kentucky, although the Juarez plant may have continued to operate.

I recall that the owner, who hired the Beams to go to Mexico, was a woman but I don't remember her name

bobbyc
10-22-2007, 18:17
I recall that the owner, who hired the Beams to go to Mexico, was a woman but I don't remember her name __________________

She was a Dowling but I don't have a first name.

bourbonv
10-23-2007, 06:22
Mary Dowling was the name of the woman who paid to have her family distillery moved to Mexico. The rest of her Waterfield and Frasier bourbon in Kentucky was sold for her by W.L. Weller and Sons and A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery during prohibition. There is correspondence in the U.D. Archive between Mary Dowling and Julian Van Winkle. He also comments upon the fact that one of his sales reps in the field has trouble because the Waterfield and Frasier bourbon he has to offer is much more expensive than the Waterfield and Frasier bourbon someone else is offering. Julian comments that the bourbon offered by Weller is a better quality made in Kentucky while the other is made in Mexico and is of very poor quality. What he does not explain is how the Mexican Bourbon made it into the legal market in the United States.

Mike Veach

doubleblank
10-23-2007, 07:15
To correct my original post.....I asked my daughter, fluent in spanish, to review the pictures of the label again. She said the label says the distillery was registered in September, 1927. I had originally posted that the whiskey was bottled in Sept 1927. So it's consistent the distillery was relocated and started in that period in Juarez.

The distillery site is still in operation in Juarez. I don't know how much of the original equipment is currently in use.

Randy

Gillman
10-23-2007, 07:29
What do they make there, Randy?

Gary

doubleblank
10-23-2007, 07:45
I have not seen it, but Jeff saw and tasted a Waterfill and Frazier American Whiskey there in Juarez. He didn't buy any as he said it was unremarkable. He asked around and was told it is made with used barrels. We haven't made a trip to see the site yet, but will soon. I'd guess they're making an inexpensive whiskey with used barrels plus vodka products.....perhaps under the Oso Negro (Black Bear) brand sold in Mexico.

Randy

Gillman
10-23-2007, 07:57
Thanks for this, appreciated.

Gary

bourbonv
10-23-2007, 16:00
Randy,
The last time I talked to Tom Sherman at Vendome he told me they replaced the distillery several years ago and he has the original pot still at Vendome. He was wondering if the Filson had a place to display it.

Mike Veach

cowdery
10-23-2007, 16:49
Randy,
The last time I talked to Tom Sherman at Vendome he told me they replaced the distillery several years ago and he has the original pot still at Vendome. He was wondering if the Filson had a place to display it.

Mike Veach

Can I have it? I promise to be nice to it.

bourbonv
10-24-2007, 06:16
Chuck,
From what Tom told me it is worn too thin to use in distilling and it is a fairly large pot still. How big is your living room?

Mike Veach

barturtle
10-24-2007, 06:44
How big? Would it make a nice hot tub?...Cut the top off and use that as an awning....Sweet!

cowdery
10-24-2007, 09:04
Chuck,
From what Tom told me it is worn too thin to use in distilling and it is a fairly large pot still. How big is your living room?

Mike Veach

My living room is big and my ceiling is high. I think we can make it work.

Seriously, though. We have very few examples of the pot stills used in licensed distilleries in the late 19th, early 20th century. I hope it doesn't get scrapped and can be put where people can see it. Since scrap copper has always had resale value, few of these things have been preserved. Old Crow had some Scottish-style pot stills they used as doublers up until that plant closed 20 years ago. What happened to them? These are the sorts of preservation efforts the Getz should be involved in, but they don't have the resources or vision. Too bad.

bourbonv
10-24-2007, 12:01
Chuck,
The good news is that the Sherman family does seem to have an interest to preserve and display the still. I don't think scrapping it is an option with them.

Mike Veach