History of Eagle Rare 10 Year

Eagle Rare is a 90 proof (45% alcohol by volume) offering owned by Sazerac and is distilled at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. The mash bill is known as Buffalo Trace’s mash bill 1, meaning that it is made up of a low rye content, although the exact recipe makeup is not disclosed by the producer. This is the same mash bill as Buffalo Trace bourbon, but the differentiating factor between the two lines is that Buffalo Trace it is non-age stated however is around eight years old, whereas Eagle Rare is aged until at least ten years old. The standard Eagle Rare is not labeled as a single barrel because of the method used during bottling. A barrel is dumped and bottled, but remnants of the last of one barrel could mix with the beginnings of another barrel to fill a bottle. Due to the potential mixing of small amounts of one barrel to another, it cannot be considered a single barrel. However, the distillery does offer stores, bars and bourbon groups to choose single barrel offerings but these are done on special bottlings and are truly all single barrel. The distiller’s nosing notes include orange peel, leather, honey, toffee and oak while the palate boasts of cocoa and candied almonds with a lingering a dry finish. The presentation of the bottle is elegant, tall, allows for the color of the beautiful aged liquid to be viewed and an eagle is proudly displayed on the front of the bottle.

Eagle Rare was introduced to the market in 1975 by Seagram under the care of Master Distiller Charles “Chuck” Lloyd Beam. Charles was born in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday October 7, 1922 to the parents of Roy Marion Beam Sr. and Mattie Frances Dugan Beam. His father, Roy was born on Friday September 22, 1899 in Bardstown, Kentucky and his mother Mattie on December 12, 1899 in Kentucky. His parents were wed in Bardstown on Wednesday August 20, 1919. Charles was the grandnephew of Colonel James Beauregard “Jim” Beam and is Booker Noe’s cousin. Charles attended St. Xavier High School, a private all male Catholic high school, in Louisville, Kentucky. He went on to attend University of Louisville where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. Like many did when World War II occurred, Charles volunteered for the Army Air Corps. He would move through the ranks to become staff sergeant and be accredited with flying thirty missions over Europe earning himself the Distinguished Flying Cross, which is awarded to those who have shown extraordinary heroism during an aerial flight.

Buffalo, Barrels, & Bourbon: The Story of How Buffalo Trace Distillery Became The World’s Most Awarded Distillery

After the war Charles returned home and married Mary Lee Kuhn on Saturday January 5, 1946. Mary was born on Saturday May 9, 1925 in Louisville. Together the two had three children: Rebecca, Charles Jr. and David. In 1962 Charles was hired on at Four Roses in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Four Roses was founded many years before by a gentleman named Paul Jones, Jr. Paul was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1840. The story of Four Roses begins with the legend of how the name came to be. In the years before the Civil War, Paul fell for a Southern Belle and had intentions to marry her. With an upcoming annual event, the Grand Ball, in Atlanta Georgia, Paul sent his marriage proposal to the lady stating that he wanted to marry her. If she rejected his proposal she was to show up at the ball wearing a corsage of three roses, however if she accepted the proposal to arrive with a corsage of four roses. The young lady appeared at the ball wearing a corsage of four red roses, signaling her acceptance of marriage to Paul. Through this romantic event, the name Four Roses was born. There are conflicting reports on the legend of the name, however this is the one that the Four Roses brand recognizes.

Shortly after the ball, Paul went to fight in the Civil War for the Confederate Army from 1863 to 1865. He earned the rank of lieutenant. In 1864 he found alongside of his brother, Warner, under General Robert E. Lee’s command helping to defend Atlanta, Georgia. In the efforts, Warner was killed during the Battle of Atlanta. After the south surrendered and the war was over, Paul returned back to his home in Virginia only to find it dismantled and destroyed from the years of war. Paul and his father made the decision to relocate themselves to Atlanta. Here Paul began producing whiskey under Paul Jones Company. In 1884, with the laws in Georgia tightening on the sale of alcohol, Paul once again relocated, but this time to Louisville, Kentucky on Whiskey Row. He had the Four Roses name trademarked in 1888 and then in 1889 purchased the J.G. Mattingly Distillery at an auction. The distillery had been built in 1874 by John Graves Mattingly and his brother where they produced a bourbon and a rye whiskey. Around that time the distillery went to auction, the company was having financial issues and had stopped production, thus allowing Paul to purchase the facility for a reported $125,000. The property included a mill for grains, a cattle barn, a building for distilling, a building for boiling and a building for fermenting. Paul was able to take possession of the distillery on Wednesday February 12, 1890 and just a couple weeks later on Thursday February 27th he began operating the distillery. Paul Jones’s brands that he produced at the distillery included Jones Four Star, Four Roses, West End, Old Cabinet, Old Cabinet Rye and Paul Jones.

In 1895 Paul Jones passed away from complications with Bright’s disease, a type of kidney disease, known today as Glomerulonephritis. He had no children of his own, so his late brother’s son, Lawrence Lavelle Jones, inherited the distillery. On January 17, 1920 Prohibition of alcohol sales in the United States began and most distilleries had to cease operations unless it was one of the six distilleries that were granted a license to produce medicinal whiskey. One of those lucky distilleries was the Frankfort Distillery Inc. and a couple years into Prohibition the Paul Jones Company purchased the distillery allowing Four Roses to be produced and sold during this era. The Frankfort Distillery was created in 1902 and is located in Frankfort, Kentucky where the whiskey brand Antique was being produced. Many brands and distilleries during the time of Prohibition went out of business and never returned, however being able to produce the Four Roses brand helped to aid in its survival. In 1933 Prohibition was repealed and distillation sales became legal again. Coming strong out of the medicinal market, Four Roses became one of the most popular bourbons during the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s. The popularity gained attraction from Seagram’s, who at the time was the largest spirits producer owning seven distilleries. In 1941 Lawrence Jones passed away of pneumonia and was buried at Cave Hill Cemetery. He left behind his three daughters, his wife and son had passed on years before, thus ending the Jones name in the Four Roses history. In 1943 Seagram’s purchased Four Roses and the Frankfort Distilleries from the Jones family for a reported $42 million dollars. Despite the brands popularity, the new owners decided to remove the Four Roses brand from the American market and move exclusively to the Asian and European markets. These markets were rapidly growing at the time while the American market was in a decline for bourbon whiskey. In 1946 Seagram purchased the Old Prentice Distillery in Lawrenceburg. The Old Prentice Distillery was built in 1910 with an architectural style of Spanish mission and was named after George Prentice, a well-known editor of a newspaper. The distillery was used for production by J.T.S. Brown & Sons up until Prohibition.

After just six short years of working at the distillery, Charles was promoted to the Master Distiller in 1968, the fourth in the company’s history. The following year under his tenure, Charles released Benchmark Bourbon in 1969. In 1975 Eagle Rare was released to market and it featured a 101 proof (50.5% alcohol by volume) offering and was aged ten years. It was being produced at the Old Prentice distillery. In the same year that the brand was released, Charles’s mother passed away. She died on Sunday April 6, 1975 and was buried at St. Joseph Cemetery. Charles retired as Master Distiller in 1984. Five years after his retirement, in 1989, Sazerac purchased the Eagle Rare brand.

Sazerac is a family owned company from New Orleans, Louisiana that had already owned several bourbon brands at the time and was rapidly growing their portfolio. Once in Sazerac control and after the purchase of the George T Stagg Distillery by Sazerac, Eagle Rare production moved to the distillery (known today as the Buffalo Trace Distillery) where it is still produced to this day. For the most part Eagle Rare remained unchanged until 2005 when the proof changed from 101 to 90 (45% alcohol by volume), the same year that Harlan Wheatley took over as Master Distiller of Buffalo Trace. Eagle Rare has two sister products, one being part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection which is a seventeen year old version and an even rarer Double Eagle Very Rare with an age statement of twenty years.

On Friday January 5, 2007 Charles L. Beam passed away at Baptist East Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. The day that he passed was his 61st wedding anniversary with Mary. A funeral was held in his honor at St. Brigid Catholic Church and he was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Louisville. In 2010 he was posthumously inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame joining many other Beam family members who were already inducted. Nearly a decade after his passing, Mary died on Sunday June 11, 2017 and was buried at Calvary Cemetery after a funeral at St. Brigid Catholic Church. Although the creator of the Eagle Rare brand has passed away, the legacy of the brand lives on. Eagle Rare has gone on to win numerous awards and medals for its bourbon at whiskey competitions around the world. Today Eagle Rare is a highly sought after bourbon whiskey that many people associate with current day Buffalo Trace, but the history goes much deeper. Next time you pour yourself a glass of Eagle Rare and are enjoying all of the great aromas and tastes, remember what it took for the brand to reach the point that it is at today and think of the late great Charles Beam. No matter how you enjoy your bourbon, you are sipping more than just what’s in your glass, you are sipping history.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s