Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky has announced The Prohibition Collection: An annual limited-edition, multi-bottle collection honoring the whiskeys that were legally produced and sold at the distillery during Prohibition between 1920 and 1933. Known as the George T. Stagg Distillery at the time, the debut release tributes five Prohibition Era-brands that have, until now, disappeared: Old Stagg, Golden Wedding, Three Feathers, Walnut Hill and George T. Stagg Spiritus Frumenti.
During Prohibition, the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol was banned in the United States due to the ratification of the 18th amendment to the United States Constitution. Although it was still legal to own alcohol during the time, purchasing alcohol was only legal with a medical prescription. Many doctors believed spirits to be a cure for a wide variety of ailments and were happy to write prescriptions to cure things like the common cold. As such, the U.S. Government granted licenses to six distilleries to bottle medicinal whiskey: one of those distilleries was the George T. Stagg Distillery.
What we know today as Buffalo Trace Distillery has had many names over the years. Its beginning as a commercial distillery dates back to 1858 making it the longest continually operating distillery in America. It began as the Swigert Distillery until it was acquired by Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr., and then he renamed it the O.F.C. Distillery in 1869. In 1878 the distillery was purchased by George T. Stagg and it was renamed the George T. Stagg Distillery in 1904. In 1969 it was renamed the Ancient Age Distilling Company. Sazerac, today’s owner, purchased the distillery in 1992 and renamed it the Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1999.
Related Story – The Complete Buffalo Trace Distillery Timeline – 1773 to Today
The Buffalo Trace Distillery ‘Prohibition Collection’
The inaugural Prohibition Collection features five whiskeys, each created in tribute to a historic brand that was once housed at the Buffalo Trace Distillery site during Prohibition
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Old Stagg Uncut & Unfiltered Whiskey
Old Stagg Whiskey is a barrel-proof whiskey that clocks in at a whopping 132.4 proof (66.2% ABV), uncut and unfiltered it features an oaky, vanilla aroma; sweet and mellow taste with notes of leather and dark cherries and a smooth vanilla finish. Old Stagg was originally created in honor of former owner George T. Stagg and replaced O.F.C. Bourbon as the Distillery’s flagship brand.
Today, the brand lives on as Stagg and George T. Stagg, both barrel proof whiskeys that have their roots in this Prohibition era brand.
Golden Wedding Brand Rye Whiskey
Golden Wedding is a 107-proof (53.5% ABV), rye whiskey that has heavy rye on the nose; a grainy, herbal taste with notes of dill pickle and rye; and a spicy, smokey finish with a hint of banana. The brand, which dates back to 1869, was originally produced by Schenley Distilling at the Joseph S. Finch Distillery in Pennsylvania. During Prohibition Schenley purchased the George T. Stagg Distillery in 1929. Golden Weddings bottling was split between Schenley’s Pennsylvania distillery and the George T. Stagg Distillery. In the late 1940’s, the brand was moved to Schenley’s distillery in Canada and would become a Canadian whiskey before ceasing to exist in the late 20th century.
Three Feathers Bottled-in-Bond Blended Whiskey
Three Feathers Blended Whiskey is a 100-proof (50% ABV), bottled-in-bond whiskey created by Buffalo Trace Master Blender Drew Mayville. Dating back to at least 1812, Three Feathers was first advertised as a luxurious rye before becoming a bonded and then a blended whiskey. Today’s recreation presents a vanilla, charred oak aroma with stone and light tropical fruit taste, and smokey, caramel and a slight cocoa finish.
Walnut Hill Whiskey
Walnut Hill Whiskey is a 90-proof (45% ABV) high-rye bourbon featuring a slightly citrus aroma with light corn and oak notes; sweet molasses, stone fruit and vanilla taste; and a smokey, woodsy finish. This historic spirit was bottled by the George T. Stagg Distillery during Prohibition with production overseen by President Albert Blanton.
George T. Stagg Distillery Spiritus Frumenti
George T. Stagg Distillery Spiritus Frumenti whiskey is a 110-proof (55% ABV) wheated bourbon honoring the medicinal whiskey produced at the George T. Stagg Distillery. “Spiritus Frumenti,” which translates as “Spirit of the Grain” in Latin, existed as a generic name for medicinal whiskey during Prohibition. Tasting notes include an aroma of caramelized brown sugar; fruity yet floral taste with notes of cherry and oak; and finishes with vanilla, wheat and citrus.
The Prohibition Collection is a Tribute to Our Past
“We stand behind our motto, ‘Honor Tradition, Embrace Change’,” says Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley. “Each of these brands disappeared slowly in the years after Prohibition, but they were integral to our survival. Without them, today there would be no Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare or Weller bourbons. The Prohibition Collection is a tribute to these great whiskeys from our past.”
“At Buffalo Trace Distillery, we build brands based on real, authentic stories firmly rooted in the rich history of excellent whiskey making in America,” says Andrew Duncan, Global Brand Director for Buffalo Trace Distillery. “When we discovered these brands – and others – in our distillery’s history, we could not wait to bring them back to life and tell their stories again. By aging and selling barrels from numerous distilleries all over the country, the Buffalo Trace Distillery site played a key role in keeping American Whiskey alive during one of the most unique periods in the history of the spirits industry.”
The entire collection is housed in a custom wooden display case, with each of the five 375ml bottles heavily-inspired by their Prohibition Era packaging and original bottle size: even the back cartons feature the cut-out for doctors to apply the prescription for medicinal whiskey, without which one could not legally purchase alcohol.
When will the Prohibition Collection be Available and What Does it Cost?
The Prohibition Collection will be rolling out in limited quantities to its distributor network, which will ship to select retailers, bars, and restaurants across the United States as of October 2023 at a suggested retail price of $999.99 (five 375ml bottles); state taxes will vary per market.
Buffalo Trace Distillery is an American family-owned company based in Frankfort, Kentucky. The Distillery’s rich tradition dates back to 1775 and includes such legends as E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee. Buffalo Trace Distillery is a fully operational Distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is a National Historic Landmark as well as is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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