Whiskey Nips: Eagle Rare
Eagle Rare is currently produced by Buffalo Trace. It is 90 proof and made from Buffalo Trace’s low rye recipe, mash bill number one. This mash bill is also used to produce the standard Buffalo Trace, Colonel E.H. Taylor, Stagg Jr., and a couple others. Eagle Rare is one of my go tos because of the price and the flavor. But Eagle Rare was not always produced by Buffalo Trace, nor is it the same recipe as the original.
The original Eagle Rare was released by Seagrams in the mid 70s and distilled at the Old Prentice Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY, which is now home to Four Roses. The master distiller at the time was Charles Beam, and it was aged for 10 years and bottled at 101 proof. Does this sound familiar to anyone? A 101 proof bourbon which featured a bird was no coincidence. This bourbon was made to compete with Wild Turkey. They even ran ads poking fun at Wild Turkey.
Sazerac Company purchased the Eagle Rare brand from Seagrams in 1989, along with other brands including Dr. McGillicuddy’s, which we now know as Fireball. Sazerac did not have a distillery, so they had to source their whiskey, but continued with the 10 year age statement and bottled it at 101 proof. Sazerac wanted to eventually produce their own product, so in 1992 they purchased the George T. Stagg Distillery and later changed its name to Buffalo Trace.
Buffalo Trace continued to sell Eagle Rare 10 year at 101 proof until 2005. That year, they changed it to a single barrel product, bottled it at 90 proof, and changed the bottle design to the one that is on the shelf today. I’ve had the opportunity to taste a 1970’s Eagle Rare and it was vastly different from today’s product. It was one of the best pours of my life, but that was a different era, and it would be hard to replicate that taste today. With today’s bourbon boom, a 10 year, age stated, single barrel is hard to come by, and Eagle Rare continues to deliver great value and flavor.