Whiskey Distiller of the Year is no easy title to achieve, and that’s not all they’ve won.
Since 1775, the masterminds behind Buffalo Trace Distillery have created exceptional whiskey products. Their namesake Kentucky bourbon, the entire Van Winkle line, the famed Experimental and Antique collections, and the Sazerac Rye are just the beginning.
Buffalo Trace has an impressive reputation and a long line of innovative leaders. The distillery, which was built in 1857, sits on the bank of the Kentucky River, in Frankfort. Here, heavy barrels full of aging bourbon line the walls of brick warehouses. These walls are full of history, working for years as the home of some of the most desirable whiskey in the world.
We’re all dedicated whiskey supporters here, so we took a break from bar management software and sat down for a tasting with Samantha Arredondo from Buffalo Trace. While sipping on the Kentucky Straight Bourbon, both neat and in a Manhattan, this is what she told us.
1. Buffalo Trace Distillery is the oldest, continuously running bourbon distillery in America
Buffalo Trace has a great history in the U.S. The distillery’s rich tradition dates back to the late 1700’s and has included such legends as E.H. Taylor Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, and Elmer T. Lee. The distillery has never shut down, not even during prohibition.
2. Their corn is 100% non-GMO
Corn is one of the most important ingredients when making bourbon, especially when it makes up 70–80% of the product. Sourcing the best ingredients has always been a requirement at Buffalo Trace. The corn rolls in by the truckload from local farmers in Kentucky and Indiana. It’s heavily inspected; if it doesn’t meet the criteria, it is sent back to the farm. If you ever take a Hard Hat Tour at the distillery, you’ll see where the kernels make their debut and then follow them on their journey as they transform into delicious spirits.
With the distillery’s property expansion, there are now corn stalks grown on site. This corn will be used to create Buffalo Trace’s own farm-to-table “Single Estate” experience.
3. Actual buffalo roamed the lands that Buffalo Trace sits on
The buffalo that migrated on the ‘Great Buffalo Trace’ led to what is now the Kentucky River. As these buffalo headed west toward the Great Plains, they left a wide path that would be traveled by many great American explorers and pioneers, like Daniel Boone and George Rogers Clark.
4. The distillery was open and producing whiskey during Prohibition
If you got sick during prohibition, chances are your ‘medicinal’ whiskey came from Buffalo Trace. The distillery’s existence was spared by the allowance of a permit—one of only four issued in the country—to continue distillation for medicinal purposes. In order to obtain a bottle of whiskey, you needed a prescription from your doctor to get it at your local pharmacy. Consumers received one pint every ten days.
5. The distillery is haunted
With a history dating back 200 years, it’s possible paranormal activity exists at the distillery. Although Samantha has never witnessed anything herself, she’s had the chance to hear actual accounts from the distillery’s tour guide, Freddie. They’ve apparently seen proof through pictures and heard bone-chilling stories. But don’t just take her word for it—the distillery offers ghost tours during the weekends, where you’ll hear these legendary stories and get a look into the more haunted sites on the property. Spooky.
Thanks for the chat, Samantha. Now who’s in the mood for an Old Fashioned? The Kentucky Straight Bourbon is super smooth, with sweet, vanilla flavors and fruity notes. It’s the kind of whiskey any neophyte would fall in love with, yet there are plenty of bold flavors for the connoisseur.
Need some reading material to go with that cocktail? Check out our latest free eBook: How to Run a More Profitable Bar.