Buffalo Trace Distillery is on track to produce more bourbon than ever before as progress on its expansion project continues. Its newly constructed still house will begin operating in December 2022 and will allow Buffalo Trace to double its production. The second still house is located adjacent to the distillery’s existing 1930s still house and contains a duplicate of its existing still, standing 40 feet tall and having the capacity of 60,000 gallons a day.
“We’re finishing the electrical work in the new still house now, and then will move into commissioning it for test runs in the next few weeks. If all goes as planned, we will start production before the end of this year. We are excited to double our distillation capacity so we can bring more bourbons to our fans,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller.
Nine years ago, Buffalo Trace Distillery began to meet growing consumer demand for its products, and, to date, its efforts have resulted in an increase in whiskey making at the distillery of 50 per cent. In the coming years, with the completion of Buffalo Trace Distillery’s additional still house, that figure is expected to reach 100 per cent — a real-term doubling of its production capacity compared to a decade ago.
The $1.2 billion expansion encompasses all operations at Buffalo Trace Distillery, having started with a new distribution centre and bottling operation in 2015 and 2019. More recently, it added 14 new barrel warehouses, 12 additional fermenters, additional cookers, a new cooling system, and tripled the size of its visitor centre. In 2022, Buffalo Trace’s additional dry house, hammer mill, additional still house and wastewater treatment plant have been constructed and will be operational by the end of this year.
The wastewater treatment plant will process 1.2 million gallons of water per day. “It’s rare to see this much money invested in a standalone, sophisticated wastewater treatment plant. I am excited to see its start up, because it truly demonstrates Buffalo Trace Distillery’s commitment to protecting the Commonwealth’s water,” said Steve Tolliver, president of Aqua Utility Services, Buffalo Trace Distillery’s regional wastewater operator. The treatment plant will be comprised of a moving bed biofilm reactor, allowing wastewater to be treated efficiently and maintain water quality standards. Wastewater will be treated and disinfected so it’s clean enough to release into the Penitentiary Branch, which leads to the Kentucky River.
“We appreciate our fan’s patience as we’ve been laying down the foundation to produce more American whiskey than we ever have before,” said Sara Saunders, vice president, Buffalo Trace Distillery. “We are still catching up to consumer demand and though our bourbons can be hard to find at times, more is coming! When our new still starts early next year we will double our production…. And then we wait for it to age because one thing we will not do is cut any quality corners by lowering proof or age. We are committed to maintaining the highest quality whiskey at fair prices.”
In addition to increased production, the expansion has added 200 production-focused jobs at Buffalo Trace Distillery over the past four years. With the continued capacity increases, there will be up to 50 more jobs added in the coming few years.