The Rich & Rare name appeared on many a whisky bottle long before the New Orleans-based Sazerac Company gained ownership of the brand. It all began with one of the Prohibition era's most successful Canadian whisky entrepreneurs, Harry Hatch, who owned the Gooderham and Worts distillery in Toronto. It was there that R&R was first distilled. Hatch called it Gooderham's Rich & Rare in those days.
In the 1950s Gooderham and Worts stopped distilling whisky in Toronto, and turned to rum. Hatch moved R&R to another distillery that he also owned: Hiram Walker’s in Windsor, Ontario. And though the production of R&R had shifted to a different distillery, stewardship of the brand and its recipe stayed the same, and the label proudly continued to proclaim the Gooderham name.
The 1980s were turbulent years for the whisky industry world-wide. Vodka sales were on the ascent while whisky sales declined dramatically, creating a glut of mature whisky that came to be called "the whisky lake."
With the diminishing market for whisky, a number of distilleries were sold, merged with others, or simply closed. A few ended up being converted, ignominiously, into fuel-alcohol plants. Canadian whisky makers were not spared the downturn and many popular brands were dislocated, with their production dispersed among the few distilleries that survived. Hiram Walker’s distillery was one of those survivors and Rich & Rare turned out to be one of the brands that carried on unperturbed throughout it all, just as it does to this day.