As a Kentuckian, I take great pride in the various bourbon distilleries in this great state. Thankfully, Buffalo Trace has embraced that history with one of their newer tours! While renovating a storage space in 2016, the crew at Buffalo Trace came across a wonderfully preserved distillery from the Pre-Prohibition Era called the OFC Distillery. Now, they’ve made the site tour-friendly and invite visitors to see it and try some bourbon while they’re there.
Bourbon has a deeply rooted tradition in Kentucky. From the beginning, the ingredients and methods of distillation have been a point of pride. Historically, bourbon is made with fresh, limestone-filtered water. In 1858, Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. decided that he wanted to open a distillery, so he broke ground on a distillery on the banks of the Kentucky River in Frankfort, KY. This gave him a water source and a strategic location for transporting his product.
Taylor opened his distillery in 1869, naming it “OFC”, after the old-fired copper vats that he used to line the mash pits in his distillery. The distillery became so successful that it outgrew itself in the 1870s. A major rebuilding began in 1873 and the new building was considered to be the crown jewel of Taylor’s empire (which included two other distilleries). Unfortunately, the newly constructed distillery burned in 1882. The OFC Distillery was immediately rebuilt on an even grander scale and the final phase of the distillery opened in 1883.
The distillery temporarily closed at the start of Prohibition, but was reopened shortly after to produce medicinal whiskey. After Prohibition, the distillery continued making bourbon until sometime around the 1940s, when the building was decommissioned and leveled.
The Buffalo Trace Distillery is one of the most beautiful distilleries I’ve ever been to. Buffalo Trace site on a huge chunk of land with rolling hills covered in the iconic Kentucky Bluegrass. Tours at Buffalo Trace are all completely free, with a wide range of tours offered. If you’re wanting to see the OFC Distillery, you’ll need to reserve the E.H. Taylor Tour, which departs every Monday-Friday at 2:30 PM. Once the tour has finished, you’re able to sample some of the bourbons that Buffalo Trace makes (as long as you’re 21+). At Buffalo Trace, you can have your history and drink it, too!
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