Location: Frankfort, Kentucky
Founded: Current site since 1792
Master Distiller: Harlen Wheatley
Grains: Non-GMO Corn from Indiana and Kentucky, Rye – North and South Dakota, Mated Barley – varios North America.
Mash bills: Undisclosed.
Almost as old as American Whiskey itself
For over 200 years, what is now known as, The Buffalo Trace Distillery has been defined by a dedication to one craft: making fine bourbon whiskey. By honoring tradition and embracing change, Buffalo Trace Distillery has earned its place of leadership among the legendary spirits makers of the world
The oldest continuously operating distillery in America also happens to have one of the largest families of homegrown brands in any industry. Led by their namesake and flagship brand, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, the line includes several brands, collections and expressions that have earned some of the highest accolades and awards that the industry offers.
From the Van Winkle collection to Benchmark, from O.F.C. Vintages to Freddie’s Old Fashioned Soda—the Buffalo Trace Distillery family of brands is at once a tribute to tradition and thoughtful experimentation.
The distillery has surived the challenges of floods, fires, tornadoes and even Prohibition, the American family-owned Buffalo Trace Distillery has never compromised. A timeless dedication to respecting the past while fearlessly innovating for the future has served them well for more than two centuries. No matter the challenge, be it Mother Nature or man, the people of the distillery have been part of the story that shaped America and the spirit industry as well.
The location of the current distillery is the bearer of great stories and is steeped in heritage. Some of the most renowned names in Bourbon history have been associated with the distilleries tha have evolved into the Buffalo Trace of today. E.H. Taylor, Jr. was a visionary in the whiskey world with a mind for distilling that was years ahead of its time. He founded a world class Distillery, O.F.C. (Old Fashioned Copper) , made advancements to the industry, and fought for the purity and legitimacy of bourbon gaining him the title of the “Father of the Modern Bourbon Industry.”
When the distillery hit financial hardships, a salesman,working for Taylor by the name of George T. Stagg, used this as an opportunity to move from selling whiskey to making it and purchased the O.F.C. Distillery. Stagg & Taylor formed E.H. Taylor, Jr. & Co. with Stagg as the President. Together they built the most dominant American distillery of the 19th century, now known as Buffalo Trace Distillery. A leading industry expert at the time declared the Distillery “one plus ultra of its class,” the best of the best.
After conflicting ideals over their vision of the Distillery, Taylor separated himself from O.F.C. moving onto other projects while Stagg’s salesmanship and financial acumen helped build the Distillery into one of the world’s leading bourbon producers. In honor of this achievement, the Distillery was rechristened in 1900 to bear Stagg’s name.
Throughout WWI, Prohibition, the Great Depression, a devastating flood, WWII, and numerous other challenges in the early 20th century, the distillery survived and thrived under the direction of one Col. Blanton.
Born on an adjacent farm to the Distillery, Blanton joined what was then the George T. Stagg Distillery as an office boy at the age of 16. In the coming years, Blanton was promoted and given experience in every department at the Distillery.
In 1921, Col. Blanton was promoted to president of the Distillery and tasked with finding solutions to a rapidly declining industry. Col. Blanton kept the Distillery open through Prohibition, obtaining a special government license to produce “medicinal whiskey.” It was one of only a handful of distilleries in the country to obtain this special permission. It is in large part to Blanton’s efforts that Buffalo Trace Distillery has become globally recognized.
“Son, we’re not hiring any hands today” were the words that greeted Elmer T. Lee when he first showed up to interview at the Distillery in 1949. They happened to be uttered by Col. Albert B. Blanton himself. Luckily, for the history of the distillery, Lee turned up for work the following week. Had he not, Elmer might not have gone on to rise through the ranks and be named the Distillery’s first ever Master Distiller.