Buffalo Trace Distillery is the oldest continually operating distillery in the country with a history dating back to 1787. Buffalo Trace, which even operated during Prohibition for "medicinal purposes," continues today as an award-winning distillery with a listing on the National Historic Register. The Bluegrass Blog interviewed Buffalo Trace Visitor Center Manager Matt Higgins to learn more about the distillery, its tours and its award-winning products.
Bluegrass Blog: How did Buffalo Trace Distillery get its start?
Matt Higgins: The Distillery has a rich history dating back to the 1700’s. You can view the full history here: http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/unmatched-history.
BB: How big is the distillery today?
MH: The Distillery now sits on more than 400 acres and has four centuries of architecture on site.
BB: What are the different brands and products offered by Buffalo Trace?
MH: We have 30 labels of Bourbon and Rye Whiskey that are produced and bottled regularly at the Distillery. You can view them all here:http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/brands/buffalo-trace
BB: What types of tours does the distillery offer?
MH: Like our Bourbon portfolio, we’ve got something for everyone. If you are just starting to learn about bourbon and the distilleries that produce it, the Trace Tour is a great place to start with an overview of the specific requirements to making bourbon and a walk through one of our century old aging warehouses as well as our Blanton’s Hand Bottling Hall. Or, if you are fully immersed in bourbon and need to know everything there is to know, you can sign up for either the Hard Hat Tour, which goes from grain-receiving through distillation, or our Bourbon Barrel Tour, which focuses on the barrel that takes White Dog and creates bourbon. Perhaps you are more interested in the history of the site and buildings, so we offer the National Historic Landmark Tour which covers the history and architecture of the distillery from 1933-1953. For those that are interested in spirits other than those aging in the warehouses, we have a Ghost Tour that is offered on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings year round. You can view all the tours, see more info, and make reservations at http://www.buffalotracedistillery.com/visit-us/our-tours
BB: What does the average person not usually know about the distilling process?
MH: I wouldn’t say that there is any one “Ah-ha” moment that we see all the time, but the thing I think a lot of people didn’t realize is just how much product you lose to evaporation each year. We have a display set up on the tour route that shows our visitors just how much of the original 53 gallons is left after 4, 9, and 18 years of aging. You can definitely see a connection made in some of the visitors' minds after they see the display as to why some of their favorite brands are so hard to find.
BB: One final question: What is your favorite bourbon cocktail and the recipe for making it just right?
MH: Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned
- 2 sugar cubes (or regular raw sugar)
- 2 to 3 drops Regan’s Orange bitters
- 2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
- 1 or 2 Large Ice Cubes
- 1 fresh orange peel
- Splash of Water if desired
Muddle sugar and bitters in an old-fashioned glass; add bourbon and splash of water, if desired; stir with swizzle stick or spoon; add ice; and garnish with twisted orange peel.