Silhouette of a Buffalo

Buffalo Trace Distillery History

Honor Tradition, Embrace Change

Throughout the challenges of floods, fires, tornadoes and even Prohibition, the American family-owned Buffalo Trace Distillery has never compromised. A timeless dedication to respecting the past while fearlessly innovating for the future has served us well for more than two centuries. No matter the challenge, be it Mother Nature or man, the people of our Distillery have been part of the story that shaped America and the spirit industry as well.

1771 - 1899

  • 1771

    Daniel Boone passes through Lee's Town on the Buffalo Trace.

    Daniel Boone
  • 1773

    McAfee brothers and Hancock Taylor survey the Frankfort area.

  • 1775

    Hancock and Willis Lee established Leestown North of the Frankfort settlement along the Kentucky River, now home to Buffalo Trace Distillery.

  • 1792

    Kentucky becomes the 15th state in the Union.

  • 1792

    Commodore Richard Taylor builds "The Old Taylor House"; the one-story stone house is still on the site today.

    Richard Taylor
  • 1811

    A three-story stone warehouse is built on the Kentucky River near Riverside to store goods.


    This included many barrels of whiskey, awaiting shipment to as far away as New Orleans; Benjamin Harrison Blanton is said to distill on site in upcoming years.

  • 1858

    A small but up-to-date distillery is developed by Daniel Swigert using warehouse and Riverside site.

  • 1870

    Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. purchases the Distillery and christens it "O. F. C." – in reference to the belief that the finest whiskey was produced in old-fashioned wood-fired copper stills.

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    E.H. Taylor Jr.
  • 1872

    E. H. Taylor, Jr. invests over $70,000, a "small fortune," as he builds a new distillery on the site.

  • 1878

    The O.F.C. Distillery is purchased by George T. Stagg along with the adjacent livestock farm; Taylor continues to oversee operations.

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    George T. Stagg
  • 1881

    Warehouse A and Warehouse B are built; still standing today.

  • 1882

    Lightning strikes and burns the O.F.C. Distillery in "The Great Fire;" it is rebuilt immediately in a yet grander manner at a cost of $44,000 over and above the insurance collected.

  • 1883

    The newly rebuilt distillery included a large mashing and fermenting wing which remains intact today as the Dickel Building.

  • 1885

    The Construction of Warehouse C, still standing today, completes Taylor’s vision for his "Model Distillery Plant of the World".

    Warehouse C
  • 1886

    Steam heating system for the warehouses is installed, making this the first Distillery to use steam heat which is still in use today.

    Buffalo Trace Distillery
  • 1897

    Albert B. Blanton joins the company as an office boy at age 16.

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    Albert B. Blanton

1900 - Present Day

  • 1900

    The Gilded Age ends and Albert B. Blanton is appointed as Still House, Warehouse and Bottling Superintendent

  • 1904

    The Distillery is re-christened as the George T. Stagg Distillery

    George T. Stagg Distillery
  • 1919

    The 18th Amendment establishing Prohibition in January 1920 is ratified and the Volstead Act is passed to guide its enforcement.


    George T. Stagg Distillery is one of very few to receive permit to bottle medicinal whiskey and even fewer permitted to produce new whiskey from 1930 to 1933.

    Three Feathers and Carlisle Medicial Use
  • 1921

    Albert B. Blanton becomes President of the George T. Stagg Distillery.

  • 1929

    The Distillery is purchased by Schenley Distillers Corporation.

  • 1933

    Prohibition ends with only four distilleries in Kentucky capable of producing whiskey.

    Kentucky Distilleries
  • 1933

    Schenley begins a massive expansion program that culminates in 1935-1937 with a new state-of-the-art distillery complex.

  • 1935

    Warehouse H, the Distillery’s only “metal-clad” warehouse, is the first of seven massive new warehouses built before World War II.

    Blanton Warehouse 1935
  • 1937

    The great flood inundates the Distillery, cresting at 17 feet above the power plant, four feet above Warehouse H.

  • 1942

    The Distillery produces its one millionth barrel of bourbon after Prohibition.

  • 1949

    Elmer T. Lee joins the Distillery

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    Elmer T. Lee
  • 1953

    Warehouse "V," the world's only "single barrel" warehouse, is built in celebration of the two millionth barrel of bourbon produced since Prohibition. 

    Warehouse V
  • 1984

    The Distillery introduces Blanton's, the world's first single-barrel bourbon.

  • 1992

    The Distillery is finally returned to a family-owned business, after purchase by the Sazerac Company.

  • 1999

    Distillery renovations are completed and rechristened as the Buffalo Trace Distillery. The Distillery's new flagship brand - Buffalo Trace - is launched.

    Buffalo Trace Distillery
  • 2000

    The Buffalo Trace Distillery is awarded Whisky Advocate's "Distillery of the Year" - the first American distillery to win this prestigious international award.

  • 2001

    Elmer T. Lee is inducted into the Bourbon Hall of Fame. 

  • 2004

    The Blanton Family homestead, also known as “The Beeches,” is acquired by Buffalo Trace Distillery to preserve the historic home built in 1818. 

  • 2005

    Master Distiller Gary Gayheart retires after 33 years at the Distillery.

    Harlen Wheatley becomes Master Distiller of Buffalo Trace.

    Harlen Wheatley
  • 2006

    Buffalo Trace Distillery releases its first Experimental Collection Bourbons, consisting of three different experiments. 

  • 2007

    The E.H. Taylor, Jr. Micro Still, named after the father of the modern bourbon industry, is launched. A combination pot still and column still, the Micro Still allows Buffalo Trace to experiment in small batches. 

  • 2008

    The Distillery produces the six millionth barrel of bourbon after Prohibition.


    Longtime Buffalo Trace employee and Barrel Warehouse Manager Ronnie Eddins receives lifetime achievement award from Whisky Advocate Magazine.

    6th Millionth Barrel
  • 2010

    Distillery is named Whisky Magazine's "Visitor Attraction of the Year".

    2010 Visitor Attraction of the Year
  • 2011

    Recognized as "Brand Innovator of the Year" by Whisky Magazine.

    2011 Brand Innovator of the Year
  • 2013

    Buffalo Trace Distillery named a National Historic Landmark.

    Buffalo Trace Distillery constructs the world’s only experimental warehouse, Warehouse X. 

    Buffalo Trace Distillery named a National Historic Landmark.
  • 2014

    Distillery is named Whisky Magazine's "Whisky Distiller of the Year, America".

  • 2015

    Distillery purchases land and expands to more than 400 acres.

  • 2016

    Discovery of long forgotten OFC Distillery, nicknamed “Bourbon Pompeii”. TM

    Buffalo Trace Distillery welcomes 1 Millionth Visitor since 1999.

    Buffalo Trace Distillery harvests and distills the first corn crop grown on farmland purchased adjacent to the Distillery for eventual farm to table bourbon.

  • 2017

    Visitor Attraction of the Year, Icons of Whisky America, Whisky Magazine


    Over $1 Million raised for charities through first release of OFC Vintage Bourbon.

  • 2018

    Distiller of the Year, Icons of Whiskey America, Whisky Magazine

    EH Taylor 4 Grain receives top whiskey of the year honors.

    First new warehouse construction since the 1950s.

    BTD fills seven millionth barrel of bourbon since Prohibition.

  • 2019

    Distillery expansion brings new cookers, fermenters, and state of the art bottling hall.

    As the next chapter of Buffalo Trace Distillery unfolds, we remain proud of our heritage as well as excited to boldly blaze new trails.


As the next chapter of Buffalo Trace Distillery unfolds, we remain proud of our heritage as well as excited to boldly blaze new trails.

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