March 28, 2009

The Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace is a strange name, and the distillery's history begins with that name. When buffaloes roamed early North America, they made trails through the country. These trails and paths were known as "traces," and were followed by pioneering settlers as they explored the new lands and expanded into the western frontier. One trace in particular was called The Great Buffalo Trace, and it lead to a river crossing - the Kentucky River - in today's Franklin County, KY. By the late 18th century, a population arose in this area along the Kentucy River and soon began distilling whiskey. The Great Buffalo Trace thus provided the name to the modern distillery of today, which is the oldest distilling location in the U.S.

While distilling began when settlers first arrived, the first contemporary distillery was established in the late 1850's. By 1869, the distillery was bought by E.H. Taylor, and was named O.F.C. Distillery. The distillery was later bought by George T. Stagg, and overseen by Albert Blanton (Blanton's Bourbon). Blanton, who was master distiller from 1912 to 1952, was able to keep the distillery open through Prohibition - the distillery was one of three others that received a governmental permit to continue to produce whiskey for medicinal purposes.

In 1999, the George T. Stagg Distillery was renamed Buffalo Trace and Buffalo Trace Bourbon was introduced. Today, the distillery is owned by Sazerac, and it has earned more international awards that any other North American distillery. In addition to its flagship Buffalo Trace Bourbon, the distillery distills 11 bourbons, including Blanton's, Eagle Rare, George T. Stagg, Rock Hill Farms, Pappy Van Winkle, and W.L. Weller.

The above photo, by the way, is one of the distillery's rackhouses.

Finally, whiskey and bourbon enthusiasts (and newcomers) should visit the Buffalo Trace Saloon, at The Saloon is a free, and as described by the distillery, is a site for "fans to check out all kinds of things they like - sports, music, parties, contests," and of course, bourbon.

1 comment:

  1. I was able to tour Buffalo Trace last spring while on a work trip. I'm not a bourbon die-hard, but the tour was informative, the guide entertaining, and the samples delicious. Eagle Rare is magnificent. You could certainly feel the proud history of the distillery, and the aroma of the "Angel's Share" in the barrelhouse was exquisite.