Hundreds of years ago, the mighty buffalo thundered across the land and carved paths known as traces. One such trace, the Great Buffalo Trace, led to the rugged banks of what is now known as the Kentucky River. Early adventurers followed the buffalo, and discovered some of Kentucky’s treasures, rich fertile land excellent for growing grain and abundant limestone waters. Distillation soon followed and in 1787 a working distillery started on the grounds, located in Frankfort, Ky. The first modern distillery was built on the site in 1857 and incorporated the use of steam power, a major advance in producing high quality bourbon. The distillery was later purchased by E.H. Taylor, Jr. one of Kentucky’s original Bourbon aristocrats. Astute and innovative, Taylor brought advancements to the facility as well as to the entire whiskey industry. By 1886, the distillery had introduced the nation’s first climate-controlled warehousing for aging whiskey and had earned a worldwide reputation for producing America’s finest bourbons. During Prohibition, the distillery existence was spared by the allowance of a permit – one of only a few issued in the country to continue distillation for medicinal purposes, therefore making it the oldest continuously operating bourbon distillery in the United States.
The Distillery Today
In 1992 the Sazerac company purchased the distillery and renamed it Buffalo Trace Distillery, paying homage to the mighty buffalo that once roamed the area. The Distillery has won numerous awards both for the fine bourbons it produces as well as the distillery itself. In 2010, Whisky Magazine named Buffalo Trace Distillery “Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year.” Distillery tours are given six days a week. For tour information and times call 1-800-654-8471.
History of Barton 1792 Distillery, Barton Brands of Kentucky, Sazerac
Barton Brands Prior to Prohibition, there was no distilled spirits industry – just the whiskey business. Two Chicago gentlemen, Oscar Getz and Lester Abelson had been engaged in the whiskey business at this time. This was true after Prohibition as well, when these two men joined forces to re-enter the business shortly after the repeal in 1933 and founded Barton Brands.
By 1944, to ensure a reliable source of whiskey, Barton purchased the Tom Moore distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. Tom Moore had been producing neutral spirits for the military during World War II but had recently returned to the art of bourbon.
A colorful personality, Oscar Getz loved the heritage of the American Whiskey business. Over the years, he collected whiskey memorabilia and eventually opened a museum in their offices in Bardstown. The Oscar Getz Museum remains open in Bardstown to this day.
Barton Brands Today
The Sazerac Company purchased Barton Brands in March of 2009. Facilities today include Barton Brands of Maryland, Lansdowne, MD, Barton Brands of California, Carson, CA and Barton 1792 Distillery, Barton Brands of Kentucky.