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Buffalo Trace to meet Bourbon demand in several years

Kentucky distillery Buffalo Trace predicts it will be a few more years until its whiskey supply can meet demand as the firm forges ahead with its US$1.2 billion expansion plan.

Buffalo Trace’s new warehouses can hold 58,500 barrels each

The distillery’s owner, Sazerac, pledged the investment, which will be phased over the course of a decade, in 2018. Buffalo Trace said it is currently in the middle of the investment and has made “great strides” in the past year.

According to Kris Comstock, senior marketing director, consumer demand for Buffalo Trace’s whiskeys continues to increase, despite the company’s move to boost production.

He said: “We understand fans are frustrated when they can’t find our brands on liquor store shelves. While we are bottling and shipping record amounts, overall demand outstrips supply, and as a result our brands will continue to remain allocated to ensure every state receives some each month.”

Buffalo Trace said allocations of brands like Eagle Rare, Weller, Blanton’s and EH Taylor were “increasing faster” every year. The distillery has also released a number of new expressions, including Weller Full Proof and Weller Single Barrel, Double Eagle Very Rare, Blanton’s Gold, Old Charter Oak, and several others.

“We promise we are doing everything we can to make more, as evidenced by [the] progress we’ve made in the past year with our expansion,” said master distiller Harlen Wheatley. “But great Bourbon does take time to age, and we won’t comprise age, taste, or proof just to fill more bottles. We’re just asking our fans to remain patient as we wait for our stocks to mature.”

Expansion progress

Over the past 12 months, Buffalo Trace has installed four cookers, four fermenters, opened a new ‘high-speed’ US$50 million bottling hall, and completed construction on three more barrel warehouses.

Before the end of 2019, Buffalo Trace began cooking corn in its four new 22-foot cookers, which offer 80,000 gallons of cooking capacity – more than two-and-a-half times the volume of the old cookers.

During summer 2019, four new 93,000-gallon fermenters were added to the 1800s building that formerly held the larger bottling operation. A new cooling tower was also added.

The 110,000-square-foot bottling hall was completed in late 2019, offering “improved efficiency, flexibility and overall quality” for the distillery’s brands.

The new barrel warehouses, EE, FF and GG, can hold 58,500 barrels each and cost around US$7m each to build, and another US$21m each to fill. Barrel warehouses HH, JJ and II are in various stages of construction now, Buffalo Trace said.

In addition, 15 new barrel warehouses will be built on the ‘Whiskey Farm’ area adjacent to the distillery. Every warehouse at Buffalo Trace is heated during the winter months to keep the Bourbon moving in and out of the wood to produce more flavour and colour as barrels mature during the cold Kentucky winters.

Buffalo Trace also plans to install eight more fermenters, a new dry house, a water treatment facility, a second still house and more barrel warehouses. In the future, another bottling hall will be added for the creation of more single barrel and small batch Bourbons.

The Buffalo Trace Distillery also reopened to the public on 1 July with a newly expanded visitor centre, which is three times bigger in size compared to the previous space.

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