Buffalo Trace DistilleryBuffalo Trace Distillery

Founded in 1920
The Buffalo Trace Distillery bills itself as the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States, but this claim has been disputed. What is not in dispute however, is the fact that Whiskey has been made on this site in Frankfort, Kentucky -- on the banks of the Kentucky River -- for over two hundred years.

The first distillery operation that can be continuously linked to Buffalo Trace, was started in 1812, by Harrison Blanton. He sold the operation in 1870, and renamed it Old Fire Copper (O. F. C.) Distillery.

Like so many others, it has been bought and sold many times over the decades, but Sazerac has owned the property since 1992.

The facility has a capacity of about 2.7 million gallons per year — enough to fill about 51,000 barrels. This is especially impressive, since everything passes through a single, 60,000 gallon beer still (wash type). This production flows into some fourteen Bourbons, a handful of Whiskeys, and a Vodka.

Flavor Spiral™

About The Flavor Spiral

What does Buffalo Trace taste like?

The Flavor Spiral™ shows the most common flavours that you'll taste in Buffalo Trace American Whiskey. It's based on all Buffalo Trace drinks in our large database and gives you a chance to taste Buffalo Trace before actually tasting it.

We invented Flavor Spiral™ here at Flaviar to get all your senses involved in tasting drinks and, frankly, because we think that classic tasting notes are boring.

Distillery Details

  • Country
    United States
  • Established
  • Owner
    Sazerac Company
  • Visitor center
  • Status
  • Address
    113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY 40601
  • Phone
    (502) 696-5926
  • Website
Dog Dogson
Dog Dogson's
The Buffalo Trace Distillery was one of the few production facilities that was allowed to remain in operation during Prohibition for "medicinal purposes."
Video from Buffalo Trace
Video transcription
Since the first Whiskey was made on this site over 200 years ago, much has changed. Yet one constant remains: our quest to make the finest Whiskeys in the world. It is a timeless craft, one that honors the traditions of the past yet endeavors to innovate in pursuit of greatness.

Generations of craftsmen here at Buffalo Trace have dedicated their lives to create a collection of Whiskeys like none other. Combining our passion with time-honored methods has made us the most award-winning distillery in the world.

It all starts with the finest natural ingredients. Hand-selected corn from local Kentucky and Indiana farms, along with other grains such as rye, wheat, and malted barley. Together, these grains make up our many unique mash bills, proprietary recipes known only to our master distiller.

The grains are carefully inspected, measured and tested in the distillery laboratory to ensure they meet our rigid standards for quality, moisture and composition. To prepare the newly-received grains for the mashing process, they must first be carefully milled to our exact specifications.

Our number-10 screen only allows milled grains as large as 10/64 of an inch in diameter to pass through. This screen ensures the grains are the right size to cook properly without compromising the integrity of the grain itself.

The next larger screen would allow whole kernels through, and a smaller screen would create too fine a grain, causing the mash to become too thick. Kentucky limestone mashing water, fresh and rich with minerals, is then heated in a steam-generated pressure cooker.

Once the water reaches the proper temperature, the corn is cooked for about one hour, until it's time for the other grains to be added. This allows the active enzymes to turn the starch into a soluble sugar. This new mixture is now a sweet mash.

After the mash has cooled, yeast is added, with a small amount of previously fermented and distilled mash, also known as sour mash. The sugar present in the mash feeds the yeast to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The uniquely rich nutrients of the pure Kentucky limestone water used in this process also enrich the yeast. All our Whiskeys undergo this natural fermentation, lasting up to five days.

Afterwards, the fully fermented mixture, or beer, complete with solids, enters the top of our column still and descends naturally, while steam from the bottom of the still rises and creates an alcohol-rich vapor.

This vapor is then recondensed and passed through a second still, known as a doubler. This process creates a crystal-clear liquid that we call "white dog." But before this newly-made Whiskey goes into barrels, we inspect them thoroughly.

Our barrels are made of naturally aged, center-cut wood from white oak trees, typically 70 to 80 years old. The wood is air-dried for six months and each barrel is charred for 55 seconds from an open flame. This draws the natural sugars in the oak to the surface and enables the Whiskey to penetrate deeply, and draw flavor from the wood.

The saw joints must be tight and the wood flawless. These standards are the highest in the industry, but they help us create the finest Whiskeys produced anywhere in the world. Every step in our Whiskey-making process is important and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to barrel-aging.

Our aging warehouses date back to as early as 1881 and the variety of warehouses here is unmatched. Each warehouse has unique aging properties that allow our Whiskeys to age differently and create an unparalleled array of flavors.

From brick to metal, wooden ricks to concrete structures big and small, each barrel at Buffalo Trace ages gracefully over the years, unique to itself, garnering a rich amber color and distinct flavor all its own. Furthermore, during the cold winters, steam is pumped through the warehouses.

This heat allows our Whiskey additional time to mellow in the oak barrels, time otherwise lost to dormancy during the cold months. After years of quietly aging in our century-old warehouses, each Whiskey must pass the final test: the taste test.

Samples are drawn from barrels, as our seasoned panel of experts taste each Whiskey. No barrel is bottled until we say it's ready. Only then is each Whiskey bottled with the utmost care. Many bottles are still filled, corked and labeled by hand today.

By honoring tradition and embracing change in the timeless craft of Whiskey making, Buffalo Trace Distillery has earned its place of leadership among the legendary Whiskey makers of the world.

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Drinks from Buffalo Trace

Average rating: 8.7/10 (17798 votes)

Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream