Buffalo Trace Distillery

Coordinates: 38°13′03″N 84°52′10″W / 38.21750°N 84.86944°W / 38.21750; -84.86944
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George T. Stagg Distillery
Buffalo Trace Distillery water tower
Buffalo Trace Distillery is located in Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery
Buffalo Trace Distillery is located in the United States
Buffalo Trace Distillery
LocationFrankfort, Kentucky
Coordinates38°13′03″N 84°52′10″W / 38.21750°N 84.86944°W / 38.21750; -84.86944
ArchitectOberwarth, Leo L.; Blanton, Albert Bacon
Architectural styleRomanesque, Colonial Revival
NRHP reference No.01000450 [1]
Added to NRHPMay 2, 2001

Buffalo Trace Distillery is a distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, United States, owned by the Sazerac Company.[2] It has historically been known by several names, including the George T. Stagg Distillery and the Old Fashioned Copper (O.F.C.) Distillery.[3] Its namesake bourbon brand, Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey, was introduced in August 1999. The name "Buffalo Trace" refers to the ancient buffalo trackway that crosses the Kentucky River in Franklin County, Kentucky. The Sazerac Company purchased the distillery in 1992.[2]

Under its old name, George T. Stagg Distillery, the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 2, 2001, and designated a National Historic Landmark on March 11, 2013.[1][4]


Grounds and guest house

The company claims the distillery to be the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States.[5] Another distillery with similar historical extent is Burks' distillery, now used for production of Maker's Mark. According to its citation in the registry of National Historic Landmarks, Burks' Distillery's origins extend to 1805,[6] and Burks' Distillery is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest operating bourbon distillery.[7][8]

Records indicate that distilling started on the site that is now the Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1775 by Hancock Lee and his brother Willis Lee who died in 1776.[9][10] The first distillery was constructed in 1812 by Harrison Blanton.[11] In 1870 the distillery was purchased by Edmund H. Taylor and given its first name, the Old Fire Copper (O.F.C.) Distillery.[2] Taylor sold the distillery eight years later to George T. Stagg along with the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery. This second distillery was sold within the year to James Graham, in order to add more land to the O.F.C. Distillery. In 1886, Stagg installed steam heating in the storage warehouses, the first climate controlled warehouse for aging whiskey in the nation.[12]

During Prohibition, the distillery was allowed to remain operational, in order to make whiskey for "medicinal purposes".[5]

The master distiller's residence

Gary Gayheart became the master distiller in 1972, until his retirement in 2005. He was succeeded by Harlen Wheatley.

In 2016, Buffalo Trace Distillery announced plans to expand operations with a capital investment of $200 million.[13]

In October 2016, during renovations to convert a building to a meeting and event space, workers discovered the foundation of the original 1873 distillery building, which burned down in 1882, along with the remains of fermenters from that same year. The original distillery foundation was left in place after the fire and an expanded distillery building was built as a replacement. The site is now open for visitors to Buffalo Trace.[14]

In March 2022, Buffalo Trace Distillery announced the creation of six-litre OFC Vintage Bourbon Whiskeys, distilled in 1982, and their accompanying NFTs. The NFTs were sold on Blockbar, with the highest bid of $60,000. The sale was part of the distillery's mission to raise US$2 million for charity by donating 2,022 bottles of whiskey to fundraising causes.[15]


Aging warehouse

Production capacity at Buffalo Trace is estimated at 2,650,000 US gallons (10,000,000 L) of whiskey per year. This is carried out at a beer still with a capacity of 60,000 US gallons (230,000 L).[16]


Buffalo Trace bourbon

While Buffalo Trace Distillery is mainly known for its bourbon, it also produces other spirits such as rye whiskey and vodka.

"Buffalo Trace" is also a bourbon brand made by the distillery that was introduced in August 1999, two months after the distillery changed its name from the George T. Stagg Distillery.

The following spirits are produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery:[17][18]

  • Self-produced brands
    • Buffalo Trace – straight bourbon (the namesake brand for the distillery, also used for branding of an Experimental Collection, Single Oak Project, White Dog (unaged spirit with mash bills for bourbon, wheated bourbon, and rye), and Bourbon Cream (a cream liqueur)
    • Col. E. H. Taylor – small batch, single-barrel, and barrel proof straight bourbon and rye
    • Eagle Rare – straight bourbon and 17 year antique collection
    • George T. Staggbarrel-proof straight bourbon (from a prior name for the distillery)
    • Stagg Jr. – barrel proof straight bourbon
    • McAfee's Benchmark – straight bourbon
    • O.F.C. – straight bourbon (from a prior name for the distillery)
    • Old Charter – straight bourbon
    • Old Taylor – straight bourbon
    • Peychaud's Bitters
    • Platinum 7X/Platinum 10X – vodka
    • Sazerac – straight rye and Sazerac antique collection
    • Thomas H. Handybarrel-proof straight rye
    • W. L. Weller – special reserve, antique 107, Full Proof, 12 Year, Single Barrel, C.Y.P.B. (Craft Your Perfect Bourbon), and barrel proof William Larue Weller antique collection straight bourbon (with a wheated mash bill very similar or identical to that for the Van Winkle brands[19])
    • Wheatley – vodka
    • Daniel Weller Emmer Wheat – a biennial experimental release crafted from a variety of wheat strains.[20]
  • Brands produced in partnership with Age International (a former owner of the distillery, now part of the Japanese company Takara Holdings):[21]
  • Brands produced in partnership with the Van Winkle family (under an agreement established in June 2002):[22]

Buffalo Trace also produces spirits for private bottlers and store brands.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "NPGallery Digital Asset Management System".
  2. ^ a b c "The Buffalo Trace Distilling Company". ellenjaye.com. 2001. Archived from the original on October 14, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  3. ^ Lew Bryson. "Bourbon Company, Bourbon Man Buffalo Trace Distillery & Mark Brown". Malt Advocate. Malt Advocate, Inc. Archived from the original on January 20, 2008. Retrieved December 5, 2007.
  4. ^ "Secretary Salazar, Director Jarvis Designate 13 New National Historic Landmarks". March 11, 2013. Archived from the original on December 11, 2019. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Official website
  6. ^ Burks' Distillery Archived November 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, National Historic Landmarks, U.S. National Park Service.
  7. ^ "Oldest operating bourbon distillery". Guinness World Records. April 3, 2001. Archived from the original on December 31, 2022. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  8. ^ "Oldest Operating Bourbon Whisky Distillery, Makers Mark, Loretto, Kentucky - Guinness World Records on Waymarking.com". www.waymarking.com. Archived from the original on December 31, 2022. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  9. ^ Reigler, S (2013) Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide, University Press of Kentucky
  10. ^ "SMWS Distillery Codes | Uisge Beatha". July 27, 2019. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  11. ^ Klebe, J., E. (2015) The Kentucky Encyclopedia, University Press of Kentucky
  12. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form". National Park Service. March 13, 2001. p. 33. Archived from the original on April 14, 2022. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  13. ^ "Buffalo Trace Distillery Expands With $200M Investment". Stateways. May 23, 2016. Archived from the original on May 24, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  14. ^ "Buffalo Trace Distillery unearths foundation from 1873 distillery" (PDF). Buffalo Trace Distillery. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 3, 2018. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  15. ^ "Buffalo Trace NFTS raise $280,000 for charity". March 22, 2022. Archived from the original on September 1, 2023. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  16. ^ "Buffalo Trace". April 2, 2015. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015.
  17. ^ "Great Bourbon". Buffalo Trace Distillery. Archived from the original on March 29, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  18. ^ "Buffalo Trace distillery official website". Archived from the original on September 1, 2023. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  19. ^ "Heritage – Old Rip Van Winkle". Archived from the original on September 1, 2023. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  20. ^ Friedmann, Christopher (July 6, 2023). "Buffalo Trace's New Bourbon Made From Ancient Egyptian Grain". Men's Journal. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
  21. ^ Cowdery, Chuck (December 9, 2013). "The Chuck Cowdery Blog: It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times". Archived from the original on September 1, 2023. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  22. ^ "Official site for Old Rip Van Winkle". Archived from the original on January 15, 2011.


  • Taylor, Richard (2002). The Great Crossing: A Historic Journey to Buffalo Trace Distillery. Frankfort, KY: Buffalo Trace Distillery. ISBN 0971683719.

External links[edit]