Owners of Steakhouse Destroyed in Mayfield Tornado Donates Surviving Bottles of Bourbon to Charity Auction

Bourbon

December 20, 2021

The owners of Carr’s Steakhouse that once stood in downtown Mayfield have donated 14 bottles of premium Bourbon they recovered from the rubble of their family business to the Bourbon auction for survivors of the tornadoes that ravaged Western Kentucky. 

The battered bottles are listed in 12 separate lots (#412-423) at www.kybourbonbenefit.com, each one signed and dated by restaurant owner Daniel Carr for authentication. Additionally, several distillers volunteered to match their brand’s ending sales price up to $10,000. 

“It is beyond belief that these bottles survived the devastation,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, which partnered with the Bourbon Crusaders charitable organization and Bourbon curator Fred Minnick on the six-day benefit that ends Tuesday night.

“It was a powerful and emotional moment when Daniel offered these emblems of resilience to the cause,” Gregory said. “Their business is gone. Their town is gone. But their first thought was to donate them to make a difference for families and communities across Western Kentucky.

“That’s the indomitable spirit of Kentucky, and we are grateful for their generosity and support.”

Carr said, “I’m just trying to do my part, help as many people as possible, and this just seemed like a way to amplify the impact we could have on our community during this time of need.”

The donated bottles are: 

  • Angel’s Envy
  • Blue Run High Rye (two)
  • Bardstown Bourbon Co. Discovery Series
  • Duke Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Ingram River Aged Flagship Bourbon
  • Knob Creek 15-year
  • Maker’s Mark
  • Maker’s Mark 75th Anniversary Keeneland edition (2011)
  • Russell’s Reserve 10-year (two)
  • Russell’s Reserve 10-year signed by Master Distiller Jimmy Russell (2004)
  • W.B. Saffell (produced by Wild Turkey)
  • Woodford Reserve 135th Kentucky Derby commemorative (2009)
Carr’s Steakhouse before the tornadoes hit Mayfield. (Photos courtesy of the Carr family and the KDA)

Little is left of Carr’s Steakhouse, a popular hotspot that opened in 2011 and earned the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 “Restaurant Neighbor Award” for outstanding community service and philanthropy. Carr, 37, is currently chairman of the Kentucky Restaurant Association’s Board. 

Carr said he worked all day on Dec. 10 and left the restaurant around 8:45 p.m. just as a packed crowd was beginning to wind down. But when he got home, his wife, Amanda, was monitoring the storms on TV and told him a tornado was bearing down on Mayfield.

“I called the restaurant and told my brother, David, to get everyone out of there,” he said. Daniel’s 17-year-old son, Israel, was working that night too, along with his wife’s two brothers and her father who was helping cook and wash dishes. Everyone escaped safely.

“It was just a pile of bricks and wood less than 10 minutes later,” Daniel Carr said. 

“No one would have survived.”

The next day, they salvaged the 14 dirty and dust-covered bottles as they searched through the ruins for the restaurant’s cash drawer to pay their 29 employees who have a combined 22 children. Many lost their homes or all their possessions. All are now unemployed. 

They’ve also started an online fundraiser for their workers. “We want to help show them there is hope in these devastating times,” wrote Daniel’s wife, Amanda Carr, on the gofundme.com page. “We are a family and we are sticking together through this.”

Fred Minnick, a best-selling author and expert on all things Bourbon, said, “If your heart isn’t moved by the Carr’s Steakhouse donations, you’re not human. To lose so much and still turn quickly to help your neighbors, employees and friends shows the integrity of Daniel Carr and his family. 

“I know one day we will once again sit down to both a thick, juicy steak at Carr’s and a pour of good Kentucky Bourbon. Part of the rebuilding process is thinking years from now, and I cannot wait to host bourbon dinners at Carr’s and show the world the best of Kentucky.”

Searching through the rubble.

Gregory said the Carr family’s generosity struck a chord with Kentucky distillers, who are known for helping each other during times of crisis. “It’s our duty as a signature industry to help our fellow Kentuckians. We were humbled by the Carrs’ donation and offer our sincere thanks. Their outstanding contribution amid the chaos of loss adds momentum to the regrowth, healing and long-term vitality of Mayfield and Western Kentucky for the years ahead,” he said.

The Kentucky Bourbon Benefit so far has raised $1.7 million, with all proceeds going to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund. The silent auction ends Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 10 p.m. EST. A live-streamed auction of the top 15 items will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 21. 

Seven distillers representing 12 of the 14 bottles are matching the ending auction price of their lots up to $10,000: Angel’s Envy, Blue Run Spirits, Brown-Forman, Duke Spirits, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Wild Turkey. 

Independent Stave Company also is matching the vintage 2004 Russell’s Reserve, autographed by Wild Turkey’s Hall of Fame Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, up to $10,000. Ingram River Aged is matching its bottle up to $5,000. 

Maker’s Mark also is offering the winning bidder of its Keeneland bottle a private distillery tour on April 15, followed by an exclusive afternoon at the historic race course for a group of eight to watch the annual running of the Grade I Stakes Maker’s Mark Mile.

The guests will receive a behind-the-scenes tour of Keeneland and enjoy an afternoon of racing from a private suite and a complete set of hand-signed 2022 Keeneland commemorative bottles. The winning bidder of the second Maker’s Mark bottle also will receive a private distillery tour. 

Angel’s Envy also is offering a private tour of its downtown Louisville distillery to the winning bidder of its recovered bottle, along with suite tickets at the YUM Center for a University of Louisville basketball game.

Brown-Forman Master Distiller Chris Morris is adding a private tour of the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery and will personally take the winner of its Kentucky Derby bottle and five friends to dinner at Matt Winn’s steakhouse at Churchill Downs.

And Duke Spirits is including one bottle of everything it producers, signs by the founders Chris Radomski and Ethan Wayne: Duke 88 Kentucky Bourbon, Duke Grand Cru 110 Bourbon, Duke double barrel rye, Duke Grand Cru Reposado, Duke Grand Cru extra anejo, Duke Commemorative 6-year extra anejo and Duke Napa Valley 24-year Brandy. 

Brian Haara, Bourbon Crusader member and Bourbon author, added, “The Carr family is an inspiration and they embody the resilience and strength of Kentuckians, along with the outpouring of generosity among our donors for the Kentucky Bourbon Benefit.

“Bourbon has proved itself an economic lifeblood throughout Kentucky’s history. In donating these bottles — and demonstrating a community-first mindset — the Carr family and distillers, donors and bidders are advancing that legacy and lighting the way ahead for years to come.”

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