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Buffalo Trace Bourbon shortage ‘will continue’

Buffalo Trace will “set new production records” in 2018 as the distillery’s US$200 million expansion progresses, however its Bourbon shortage “will continue for the next few years”.

Buffalo Trace is aiming to build a new warehouse every four months for the next several years

The Sazerac-owned distillery announced plans for a significant expansion in May last year.

The investment will be phased over next seven years and will expand Buffalo Trace’s cooking, fermenting, bottling and warehousing operations, and also involve the acquisition of more land.

A number of buildings of buildings on the site have been “repurposed” and turned into maturation warehouses. Buffalo Trace has purchased almost 300-acres of additional land to build new warehouses and also plant its own corn, rye and barley to use in single estate Bourbon production.

Ground has already been broken on the first warehouse, which will hold more than 55,000 barrels, with completion expected by the end of this year. A new warehouse will then be built every four months for the next several years, costing roughly US$7 million to build and another US$21 million to fill with barrels.

Buffalo Trace is also moving its existing bottling facilities into its old distribution centre, located near the distillery’s visitor car park, to create a “more efficient, flexible and higher quality” operation. The move is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

After the bottling operation has moved, the Frankfort-based distillery will install larger cookers and additional fermenters to increase Bourbon production. This summer, production will run 24-hours a day for seven days a week for the first time in Buffalo Trace’s known history.

“This year we plan to match the all-time high of barrel production here at Buffalo Trace, set in 1973,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller at Buffalo Trace. “Next year we’ll exceed that and set new production records.”

However, demand for the flagship Buffalo Trace Bourbon will continue to outpace supply as the distillery’s current inventory “remains tight”, meaning the shortage “will continue for the next few years”. Allocations will also continue “with no foreseeable end in sight”.

“Growth will be modest over the next few years, dictated by the number of barrels filled years ago,” said Kris Comstock, senior marketing director for Buffalo Trace. “Most will be sold in the United States where demand continues to rise.

“We will not comprise taste nor quality, so rather than empty barrels prematurely, we’ll continue to wait for barrels to mature and allocate bourbon when it’s ready, while increasing production for the future.”

Buffalo Trace’s Eagle Rare, W.L. Weller and Blanton’s Single Barrel “will see moderate growth” in the coming years, while “almost all” Bourbons made at Buffalo Trace “are experiencing double-digit growth despite allocations,” according to the distillery.

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