Waterfill & Frazier

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Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby moon » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:54 pm

Just found an old bottle of Waterfill & Frazier that I purchased in 1988, it's 86 proof, the label reads that its bottled in Ky, aged 18 years and still has the original tax stamp on it. I stuck it away in a storage box and forgot about it. Waterfill & Frazier closed up years ago. I read somewhere that it was relocated to Mexico to produce cheap whiskey. Waterfill & Frazier was reported to be pretty good stuff but I can't find much information about this brand. Does any one have information concerning Waterfill & Frazier?
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby cowdery » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:01 pm

The Mexico story is true. It was during Prohibition and the distillers were Joe Beam and his son, Harry. Many of us know Harry's granddaughter. The old pot still they used down there is now in the possession of Vendome, in Louisville.

Obviously, the brand came back after Prohibition, but not at the original location in Anderson County. The Dowling family, which had owned the distillery and brand name since 1903, built a new distillery in Anchorage, a suburb of Louisville, after Repeal but sold it soon after to Joe Makler, a Chicago whiskey broker, who moved the name to a distillery he owned in Bardstown.

That last distillery to be called Waterfill and Frazier had been built in 1850 by the Lancaster brothers. It became part of the Whiskey Trust in 1903. It came back after Prohibition as an independent, called Independent. It briefly bore the Shawhan name, but none of the Shawhan family were involved at that point. The owner was Tom Pendergast, the political boss of Kansas City, who also owned the distillery today known as McCormick. After WWII, it was sold to Makler, who operated there until 1969. Jim Beam bought it in 1974 but only wanted the warehouses. The rest of the buildings were demolished but the warehouses are still there and still used by Jim Beam.

At some point, Heaven Hill acquired the Waterfill and Frazier name, but I don't know if they're using it. They also own the Dowling name. It may have had an interim stop between Makler and Heaven Hill, but your bottle is probably a Heaven Hill product.
Last edited by cowdery on Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby Bourbon Joe » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:11 pm

Very interesting Chuck.
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:15 am

Heaven Hill purchased the Waterfill and Frasier brand from United Distillers. They acquired it when they purchased Glenmore who acquired it from Medley Bros. Medley Bros. acquired the brand frm Schenley who was making it in the 40's and 50's. Stitzel was selling the brand for Mary Dowling during prohibition and a few years afterwards.
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby cowdery » Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:18 am

So that would mean Makler owned the distillery but never owned the Waterfill & Frazier brand. The Dowlings sold him the distillery but sold the brand to Schenley. That makes more sense than the way I had it. Presumably the Dowling brand itself followed the same trajectory, as it did reach the same final destination.
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:29 am

Chuck,
If I remember correctly, Schenley owned a distillery they called "Waterfill and Frasier as well as the brand. It was one of the distilleries they picked up during the war and closed shortly after the war.
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby cowdery » Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:29 pm

I don't know about that. I just know the place in Bardstown that Beam now uses for warehousing, out Bloomfield Road, is the place Sam Cecil and other Bardstown-area old timers refer to as Waterfill and Frazier, and I don't think Schenley ever owned that place, but if Schenley owned the brand, and you're probably right about that, they may have called some other place by that name, as the name did get around.
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby mwaterfill » Sat May 09, 2009 12:42 am

Several questions about Waterfill & Frazier
- Are you familiar with Waterfill gardens in Jaurez Mexico? I think it was a large tavern connected with the distillery.
- There is also a neighborhood in Jaurez called Waterfill - I assume this was connected to the distillery?
- I read that the state of Oregon bought a Waterfill & Frazier distillery during WW II - is that true?
- Who bottled a Waterfill & Frazier commemorative bottle for the State of Alabama? Those botles are often sold on ebay.

thanks for any Waterfill info - I am interested for obvious reasons
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby lsmith24 » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:58 am

I was still buying Waterfill & Frazier bourbon in Mexico in 1970 and, as far as I know, it was still being made in Juarez.
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby mwmckenna » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:41 pm

I read the posts on Waterfill and Frazier with interest. My grandfather, LW Smith, owned a "brewery" in Juarez during the '20s, or so at least is the family story. I have a small flask (about 40 mil.) . the label says "Waterfill and Frazier" WHISKEY, Distelado Y Embotellado por D.W. Distellery Co.S.A., C.Juarez Chihuahua, M. Ind. Registrada No. 27285 Septiembre 27 De 1927,
Kentucky 1810 --- Chihuahua 1927.

There is also a photo from that period showing my grandparents and my mother as a child at the "brewery."

L.W. Smith was a promoter of gold and silver mines, prior to this period in Leadville, CO and later in Sonora, CA. The family story is that he owned the operation in Juarez, but his stories never suffered in the re-telling so he may have been working for someone else.

I would appreciate any additional information on this story.

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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:05 am

Mary Dowling moved the Waterfill And Frasier distillery to Juarez, Mexico in the early 1920s to make bourbon during prohibition. It continued to make Bourbon until 1964 when Bourbon became a product of the United States and they had to simply call it "whiskey" instead of "Bourbon". I believe they closed in the 1990s but I am not sure. I do know that Vendome has their original stills in storage at their shop here in Louisville.
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby cowdery » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:57 pm

I think they're still in operation. Vendome got the old still when they replaced it with a new one. Joe Beam and his son, Harry, who was just a kid, set the place up in Juarez and ran it for several years.
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby dch134 » Mon May 02, 2011 5:14 pm

my grandfather worked for mr makler from chicago for maNY YEARS, and worked waterfill and frazier till it closed and went to beams for a short time till he retired and passed away , and they omly use the wharehouses now
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby Jeaniedixon » Wed May 11, 2011 2:46 am

I am excited to have found this forum and a discussion about Waterfill & Frazier Distillery.

My dad, C.M. Ritchie Jr, worked at Waterfill & Frazier in Bardstown, Ky. He started out digging ditches and then worked his way up to the VP position until the distillery was shut down. From what I remember from my dad's stories, the distillery was ran by coal and was shut down by the EPA. At least this is the story I remember my dad telling me when I was a kid/young adult. Because it was in the latter years of his working career when the distillery shut down, dad was hired by Booker Noe to run the Jim Beam china line in Clermont Ky. He worked at Claremont (sp?) till his retirement.
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Re: Waterfill & Frazier

Unread postby mwaterfill » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:47 pm

We have recently opened a bottle of Waterfill & Frazier. It has a strong apple taste. Was it known for that?
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