Off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
is a review of things to do, places to stay
and honey holes to visit off the
Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Buffalo Trace Distilleryby Jeremy Schell
Planning your trip along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail will lead you to some of the most recognizable and historic distilleries in the United States however you’ll need to venture Off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to visit one of the most famous bourbon distilleries, ever.
It is almost incomprehensible how a distillery with such famous brands as Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Blanton’s, W.L. Weller (Special Reserve, 107, 12-yr, Full Proof and William Larue), Col. E.H. Taylor, Elmer T. Lee, Rock Hill Farms, Ancient Age, George T. Stagg and of course, Pappy Van Winkle would not be found on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. This is probbaly a story for another blog. Regardless, the Buffalo Trace Distillery has operated under several different names over the past 200 years including the O.F.C. Distillery and the George T. Stagg Distillery before becoming the Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1992. For many, visiting the Buffalo Trace Distillery is a historical trip through the history of American whiskey and bourbon. Very few companies, in any industry, have a history as rich as the brands at Buffalo Trace. You can almost get caught up in the feeling of nostalgia as you travel through time walking around the grounds of the distillery.
The Buffalo Trace Distillery, owned by the Sazerac Company, is in Frankfort, Kentucky, occupying over 378 acres in the heart of Franklin county. Excluding holidays, tour of the distillery are available seven days a week and each tour will last about an hour. It is easy to expect to pay ten dollars or more to enjoy one of the various tours, as well as, the accompanying tastings however all tours at the Buffalo Trace Distillery are provided free and complimentary. Here are the tours you can enjoy now at the distillery:
- The Trace Tour is a great tour of the overall history of the distillery, tour of aging warehouse and the bottling facility where all Buffalo Trace products are filled, sealed, labeled and packaged by hand.
- If you’re looking for a more in-depth experience, make a reservation for the Hard Hat Tour. This is a behind-the-scenes experience of the Buffalo Trace fermentation and distillation process.
- The Buffalo Trace Distillery was recognized on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 and the National Historic Landmark Tour is an educational tour focusing on the buildings, architecture and history of the distillery between 1933 and 1953.
- Bourbon barrels are often credited for more than 75 percent of all the flavor in bourbon and rye whiskies. Make a reservation to enjoy the Bourbon Barrel Tour and learn more about the specifications and history of Buffalo Trace barrels, how they are aged and how they are used throughout their life cycle.
- Probably one of the most entertaining tours available is the Ghost Tour at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. There are plenty of spirits aging at the distillery however some believe this includes the ghost of Col. Blanton himself. This tour isn’t for the faint of heart, you’ll get chills when you enter the Stony Point Mansion which is the site of where Col. Blanton died in 1959.
- The H. Taylor Tour at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, also known as Bourbon PompeiiTM, is a walk thru time as you tour the original structures and remains of the distillery built by E.H. Taylor Jr. This includes the Old Taylor House, OFC Building and the famous Warehouse C. In the mid eighteenth century, whiskey making and rectifying took all shapes and Col. Taylor revolutionized the industry in his quest for the perfect distillery.
- A new limited tour for 2019 is the Expansion Tour which focuses on the expansion plans at the Buffalo Trace Distillery as they grow to meet the explosion in the whiskey industry. Learn all about their additions for fermentation, distillation, and bottling.
Each tour at the distillery concludes with a tasting of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Eagle Rare Bourbon, Wheatly Vodka, White Dog, Bourbon Cream and usually Freddie’s Root Beer. No reservations are necessary for the Trace Tour however reservations are required for all the remaining tours at Buffalo Trace.
The Buffalo Trace Distillery is a unique and historical experience and the detail of knowledge offered by all the tour guides makes Buffalo Trace one of the best distillery tours anywhere. If you are fortunate to have Mr. Freddie Johnson as your tour guide, it will be an experience to be remembered. Freddie is a third-generation employee at the distillery, member of the Kentucky Hall of Fame and first-class ambassador of bourbon. Freddie grew up at the distillery with his father and grandfather who both worked there. Freddie’s knowledge and appreciation, not only of the history pf the distillery, is only surpassed by his authentic ability to articulate the value moments, which should always be cherished. According to Freddie, friends. moments and bourbon are much alike, always share them together.
The Gift Shop at the Buffalo Trace Distillery offers a wide-range of brand and bourbon themed goods including glassware, clothing, bourbon-themed gifts and even Freddie’s Root Beer. If you’re hoping to visit the distillery to land something from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection or even a Pappy Van Winkle, well, don’t as you’ll never find them in the gift shop. Many of the products offered as part of the complimentary tasting are available in the gift shop, as well as occasionally, Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon as well as EH. Taylor Small Batch Bourbon.
When planning your trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, to visit one of the most historic American distilleries you’ll need to stray Off the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to tour the Buffalo Trace Distillery. It will be an experience you’ll never forget.