Buffalo Trace Making Progress on Expansion – But Don’t Expect More Bourbon Anytime Soon

Buffalo Trace Distillery continues forward with its $1.2 billion expansion, having added more barrel warehouses, begun construction of an additional still, added fermenters, expanded the dry house operation and much more over the past year. 

That said, the distillery noted in a news release that it will still be a few years before bourbon supply catches up with demand. So don’t expect a sudden windfall of Blanton’s Single Barrel.

“The bourbon category continues to grow at a rapid rate, and while we have been increasing production across our portfolio for the last several years, we are still catching up to consumer demand,” said Sara Saunders, vice president of marketing, Buffalo Trace Distillery.  “While we are producing and shipping a record amount of product, we understand the frustration from fans that our brands aren’t easy to find or readily available. We take pride in the quality of our product above all else, and we believe that there is no substitute for aging. Unfortunately, this lengthens the lead time of getting product into consumers’ hands.”

Buffalo Trace also has made progress on several other projects, including adding a second still house  adjacent to Buffalo Trace’s existing 1930’s still house. This addition will double the production capacity for the distillery, with a duplicate still standing 40 feet tall and having the capacity of 60,000 gallons.

In addition, eight additional fermenters were added and went online in January 2021, joining the four new fermenters added in December of 2019 and bringing Buffalo Trace’s total fermenter count to 24. The new fermenters are 93,000 gallons each, slightly larger than the twelve older fermenters Buffalo Trace still uses, which have been in place since 1933.  

Another project that started in the past year involves repurposing the oldest aging barrel warehouse on property, Warehouse B, to a new dry house. Warehouse B was built in 1884 but has sat empty for two decades after it was determined that it was not ideal for aging whiskey according to modern standards. An all-brick warehouse, it is located at the back of the distillery near the cookers and fermenters, making it an ideal location for drying spent mash to sell to farmers for livestock feed and allowing the distillery to repurpose the building while maintaining its historic integrity.

A new cooling system is also underway, along with a $40 million wastewater treatment facility, allowing it to be self-sufficient in its treatment of wastewater. New barrel aging warehouses HH, II, and JJ have also been added in the past year and LL and MM are under construction. Warehouses KK and NN are in the planning stages.   

Since most of Buffalo Trace’s bourbons age eight to 10 years, more warehouses continue to be built as production increases.  A total of 10 new barrel warehouses have been built to date since 2017, each holding 58,800 barrels and costing about $7 million each to build and another $21 million each to fill with barrels. 

More barrel aging warehouses are also planned for the future, as well as another craft bottling hall which will allow Buffalo Trace to produce more single barrel and small batch bourbons.

“We’ve made great strides in our expansion so far, but we still have a long way to go in order to meet the needs of our fans,” said Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley. “We continue to take all the proper steps to ensure every barrel is of the highest quality as we increase supply.” 

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