Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Exam-o-Dram – 1982 Eagle Rare 101

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm very partial to Eagle Rare 101. The current iteration which comes in at 90 proof is nothing like the 101. When I first tried ER101 I smelled and tasted malted milk balls, which I love, therefore it was love at first taste. Eagle Rare has been parented by a couple of owners and as a result, the profile has gone through some changes. But for the most part, it's a very good bourbon and unfortunately was discontinued by Buffalo Trace back in 2005.

Eagle Rare entered the market in 1975 and was started as a counter to Wild Turkey and Heaven Hill did the same thing with the release of Fighting Cock. Eagle Rare was a Seagram's product who also owned the Four Roses Distillery. In 1989 the Sazerac Company (Buffalo Trace) purchased Eagle Rare and Benchmark Brands from Seagram's.

Eagle Rare 101 is one of those benchmark bourbons that rise above others of similar breed but I'll caveat that statement by saying that while the label stayed the same through acquisition, the mash bill did not. Seagram's, to my knowledge, used the now Four Roses distillery for their Eagle Rare brand, which was a high rye mash bill and more than likely consisted of a vatting of a couple of recipes. Four Roses does this today with their Small Batch release and Seagram's was known to do this when they were producing. After Buffalo Trace acquired the label, I believe they switched to a low rye recipe, thus the profile changed. To its credit, Eagle Rare was still a very good whiskey even with the change in recipe so any bottle you can find whether from Seagram's Old Prentice Distillery or Buffalo Trace, this is a bottle you should try and find.

If you go into a liquor store and See Eagle Rare on the shelf, don't celebrate too fast because this is more than likely the current Single Barrel 90 proof version. The 101 was not a single barrel.

Now, to the overall experience of the Eagle Rare, I currently have a bottle that was distilled in 1972 and bottled in 1982. This came from a eagle decanter that was part of a four series release. The bourbon inside is quite good. I mentioned in the first paragraph about picking up malted milk balls on the nose and palate. Well, that was a Buffalo Trace release of the Eagle Rare, not Seagram's which is what was in the decanter. This variant has a very nice nose with traces of candy shop, nuts and caramel. On the palate the proof does not dominate the experience but compliments the flavors, almost accentuating them. The taste validates what the nosing revealed; candied nuts, caramel and maybe a hint of citrus. The mouth feel was full and robust with a nice oily texture. The finish is medium to long dispersing the flavors until you're left with a slight tingle on the tongue.

23 comments:

  1. I have one. The bottom of the decanter says 1979 and Old Apprentice Distillery Lawrenceburg, KY. I did an internet search and see it is #1 in the series of the decanter collection. My father got it as a gift years ago and he never opened it. The original paper-tape seal is still intact- the bottle has never been opened. He gave it to me a few years ago when I offered him JD and told him I recently decided to only buy American when it comes to cars, tires, whisky, beer and whatever else I can find. I suppose I could drink it, but if it is rare and valuable I am wondering if this perhaps belongs in the hands of a serious collector who might appreciate it. I can just get some Maker's Mark and I'll be pretty happy. Can you tell me--- is my Rare Eagle in its unopened decanter valuable? Thanks- Larry C

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  2. Larry - if you enjoy bourbon, open the decanter and enjoy. I would suggest though that when you do open it, pour it off into another bottle with a good stopper. The decanter cork will more than likely be brittle and break apart leaving you with no way to re-seal the decanter. A lot of people ask about the value of an out of production or rare bourbon and what I tell them is that a bourbon is only worth what someone will pay for it. I don't really deal with dollar value when it comes to bourbon, I deal more with the value of drinking something not available and tasting something from the past. My recommendation is open the decanter when you think it's appropriate and enjoy it for what it is, a taste of history. Let me know what you think. Cheers.

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  3. Thanks for that advice. You are right, the cork was so deteriorated that it was not effectively sealing. So the crumbly cork is moist from evaporation. All that good bourbon floating away...the cork started to crumble when I applied slight force to the top. I will break the seal tonight, sip some, and seal up the rest in a new decanter with a good stopper. I will keep the Rare Eagle collector decanter in good care as a keepsake or maybe for a future collection. Thanks again. Larry C

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  4. Is there anyway to figure out when a bottle of Eagle Rare 101 was made? I just received a bottle from my father, who has had it since around 1996. He said he got it as a gift from his sister, who said she had it for 10-15 years. I was just curious to know when it was made, I can't find a date anywhere on the bottle. The front label reads "EAGLE RARE Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Distilled by Old Prentice Distillery Lawrenceburg, Kentucky." On the bottom of the bottle are some numbers. If you are holding the bottle upside-down, it reads 15 with an underscore at the top. Then under that is a symbol that looks like an anchor and what looks like a serial number reading E-25B9A. The next line simply reads LIQUOR BOTTLE. Then under that reads D-126 in the center of the bottle, with a 9 on the far left, 82 on the far right, and 3 at the bottom. The bottle is still sealed and never been opened. I plan on enjoying this beauty in a few weeks when my younger brother turns 21, and I also have a friend that will be home on leave from the Marines. What better way to celebrate and honor two close people in my life? Any information that you may be able to provide will be greatly appreciated. William in WI

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  5. William, you answered your own question. It's just a matter of knowing where to look. Distilleries don't store bottles; once they get a shipment of bottles in, it goes to the bottling line. In your case, the ER101 you have was bottled in 1982. The '82' on the bottom right indicates the two digit year of manufacture and since the ER101 is 10 years old, that puts distillation around 1972. The bourbon could be older since the 70's and 80's were glut years for whiskey, meaning supply far outweighed demand. You have some great bourbon in that bottle. Hope you enjoy it.

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  6. I have acquired an Eagle Rare 101 proof decanter, #2 in the series from 1980. It is in excellent condition. It has been opened but still has the stamp. Does anyone know about how much it is worth? Thanks! My email is Bamatami@aol.com. Tami

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  7. Tami,

    Since it's been opened probably not worth much if anything at all. Typically collectors are looking for bottles (or decanters) is good condition, sealed with the tax stamp intact and minor evaporation. Depending on how long it's been open, it may still be very drinkable as that ER101 is a very good bourbon.

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  8. I work at the humane society thrift store and we got in the bottle pictured above. The one with the eagle shape. #2 series 1980, Eagle Rare ltd. ed. Any idea what the bottle is worth? Unfortunately the top came off and the whiskey spilled out. Ugh! What a shame.

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  9. Well, since the contents spilled out, it's not worth very much. For a bourbon enthusiast, that bottle would fetch around $100, maybe a little more. The bourbon in that decanter is very good stuff, too bad it was lost.

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  10. I have a bottle in the wood box, not opened.
    Bottom of bottle serial #E2589A, bottom right #79. This is mint condition...how could I find out how much this is worth??? Thanks irene

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  11. Irene - there's really no official market for vintage or out of production whiskey. Truth is, it's worth what someone is willing to pay for it. There are some auction sites in Europe that sell vintage whiskey but here in the U.S. nothing like that exists. The bottle you have contains some very nice bourbon and from the information you've given me, looks like it was bottled around 1979. Sorry I couldn't be more help.

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    1. Thanks for the info. Irene

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  12. I just wanted to thank you Greg. I just received a bottle of 101 that was in the original box and bottled in 1979 (determined by your information). I wasn't looking to sell it - I was looking for information on the history and quality of the bourbon, and your site is the best that I have come across. Thank you!

    Madeline

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  13. Madeline - I appreciate you stopping by and thanks for the positive feedback. That's a great bottle of bourbon you have there. If you do open it, I'd be interested to hear what you think of it. Happy and healthy drinking. Cheers.

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  14. I have an Eagle Rare cabinet 14" by 60". With Kentucky Whiskey lettering. Is is worth anything?

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  15. Sorry, can't help you as I have never seen this particular cabinet. If it's in good shape, use it to display your bourbon.

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  16. I've been drinking Eagle Rare since 1977. The wooden boxes went from dark stained wood with gold print, to white pine with branded finish. I used to buy it by the caseload. 1.75's in a wooden pivot stand, ceramic Eagle Head pour spouts...etc etc etc.. I was in the know while all my friends were drinking Jack and coke.

    Now I would give any reasonable price to have a bottle of my ole fave 101 proof 10yr Ealge Rare. If anyone here finds a dusty bottle on a shelf somewhere, I'd love to have it.

    The new Single Barrel is good, but Buffalo Trace changed too much from what I remember fondly. It was a good 30 years. Guess I should just be happy with the memories. But hope against hope, if you find a bottle, let me know.
    Pete

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    1. Pete I may have the bottle u have been looking for unopened withb original box.It's 101 proof and I think from the 70's. Contact me at whitjr75@hotmail.com for info.

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  17. Pete - your story is similar to other labels that have disappeared over time. The only way to find them now is to find some lone bottle on the shelf of a liquor store. Ebay has shut down all liquor sales so that avenue is out.

    I also agree with you, the older ER101 is a mighty fine bourbon.

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  18. I bought 2 bottles of the 101 in the wooden box back in 1980/81. (can't really remember, it was after graduating from USAF basic training/boot camp). Gave it to my parents and a very good friend. Still has not been opened. What should I expect? vinegar or good stuff? What is its value?

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    1. The key is storage. If the bottles were kept in the wooden box and stored away in a cabinet and not subject to extreme heat, the bourbon should be just fine. Bourbon doesn't turn "vinegar"; about the only thing that can turn it would be oxidation. If the fill level looks good; still around the base of the neck, then it's very drinkable. Value? Price is subjective and is worth what someone is willing to pay. On the secondary market I would guess around $150 + , but that's just a guess.

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  19. Hope someone can help me out. I have an unopened decanter on the bottom it reads #2 in SERIES 2 Eagle rare 1984 Limited edition. It is an Eagle fighting a Rattle snake. The tax stamp is still there, and the bourbon is still inside it. Can anyone tell me what this might be worth? Thanks

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    1. Sorry, not enough information to provide an accurate assessment. Rough figure if contents are not tainted and the decanter is in excellent shape, maybe $150, but that's just a guess.

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