To me Kentucky is known for two things: horses and bourbon. I have talked some about the horse scene here, but bourbon is a true beauty too…at least at Buffalo Trace Distillery it is.
Back in the day I enjoyed a good drink, partaking in the Hollywood party scene with a spirited Whiskey Sour here and there, but that was many moons and many lives ago (can you hear my liver screaming “thank you!”?). So when Spaceman and I were in the land of whiskey (aka bourbon), I had to visit a distillery. We looked to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail for inspiration and decided upon Buffalo Trace Distillery (diverging from the trail). Here are my five reasons why,
It is beautiful. I mean stunningly so with its rolling green hills, a restored botanical garden complete with water features, buckets of flowers scattered throughout the grounds, and preciously maintained historic buildings. This place is candy for the eyes. Also, open April through October, you can purchase food from their Firehouse Sandwich Shop (built in 1792) and picnic on the grounds. However, we were there during the cafe’s off season which meant my bourbon tasting hangover had to be worked out through an impromptu 80’s music karaoke performance in our rental car on the way to an offsite lunch spot (Spaceman was delighted by this no matter what he says).
It is historic. Although some challenge this statement, Buffalo Trace Distillery claims to be the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States. Buffalo Trace was allowed to remain open during prohibition so that it could produce bourbon for the ever-so-noble “medicinal purposes”.
It is free. I couldn’t believe this when I first read it during my research for which distillery to visit. Pretty much all the other distilleries have some sort of charge, however, at Buffalo Trace Distillery, they want to share their experience, history, and love of bourbon making with everyone. This includes a free tasting of their award winning bourbons (see above karaoke inducing warning), amazing! Their confidence in the quality of their bourbon leads to such freebies, and this confidence is well placed. Of course you can sign up and buy tickets for more in-depth tours and/or private event tours, but the free no reservation needed tour is great.
It is has the smallest bonded aging warehouse in the world, licensed to hold just one barrel. This adorable little “home” (I realize hard-nosed bourbon drinkers don’t want ‘adorable’ and ‘bourbon’ mixed, but it was) is another picture perfect setting. I went a little crazy with the photos of it, but I will just share one with you and let you visit to get more. Today this “warehouse” holds each successive millionth barrel the Buffalo Trace Distillery produces.
It is “fathered” by Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr., whose is credited as the “Father of the Modern Bourbon Industry”. His baptism into distilling came when he purchased a small Leestown distillery in 1870. He quickly christened it O.F.C. for Old Fire Copper Distillery which has since become Buffalo Trace Distillery. However, you can still see the O.F.C. signage on some of their buildings today. Taylor’s banking, political, innovative, and forward thinking skills led him to being credited with bridging the gap between the classical and modern eras of bourbon making.
Bonus Bits : Buffalo Trace Distillery is built on an ancient buffalo migration trail, hence the name. The buffalo would cross the Kentucky River where the distillery now sits. The location is also prime because the Kentucky River cuts through limestone which creates limestone-enriched water that is vital to the creation of excellent tasting bourbon.