Distilling has been happening at the Buffalo Trace Distillery (formerly O.F.C. Distillery and Carlisle Distillery) site in Frankfort, Kentucky since the 1800s. And with people leading the charge like Col. E.H. Taylor it has always been a place that has attracted a lot of visitors. Even with the Covid temperature checks and mask requirements in 2020 and 2021 Buffalo Trace has not only returned to a steady flow of bourbon lovers, they’ve exceeded their pre-pandemic number of visitors.
Buffalo Trace Distillery Welcomed 340,000 Guests in 2021
Buffalo Trace Distillery set a new visitation record, welcoming more than 340,000 guests to the National Historic Landmark Distillery in 2021. This is a 134% increase in the number of visitors it welcomed in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and a 16% increase in the number of visitors it welcomed in 2019. Since 2010, visitation to Buffalo Trace has increased by 556%.
A Q & A with Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Director of Homeplace Development
Q: Does Buffalo Trace Really Offer Free Distillery Tours?
A: Yes. But you have to book ahead. Tours book quickly.
Q: Why Does Buffalo Trace Distillery Offer Free Tours?
A: “It is our philosophy that we are inviting you into our home as a guest, and we are honored that guests have chosen to visit us,” said Director of Homeplace Development Meredith Moody.
“As a good host we choose to offer our tours and tastings complimentary at all Sazerac facilities.”
Buffalo Trace completed a massive expansion of its Visitor Center in 2020 during the onset of the pandemic. The Visitor Center tripled the size of the previous Visitor Center.
To further accommodate the increasing number of guests as they arrive to the Distillery, Buffalo Trace is renovating its historical Freehouse, located in the visitor parking lot into a full welcome center. Over the past year, this space has served as the visitor COVID health and safety check-in. The renovations, which are anticipated to be completed next month, will allow the Distillery to check-in visitors for all activities within the same space by early March. The building will retain its historically significant design features and be updated to support the modern needs of visitors, including reservation check-in and WiFi. Plans also include updated landscaping and murals for photo opportunities for arriving visitors.
“We are thankful that, despite the challenges the last couple of years have brought, our fans continue to feel comfortable at the Distillery and are traveling from all over to visit us,” Director of Homeplace Development, Meredith Moody said. “We look forward to incorporating our new Welcome Center into our visitor operations in the coming months and are excited to welcome even more guests throughout the year.”
Buffalo Trace Distillery $1.2 Billion Expansion Continues
Visitation to the Distillery isn’t the only thing growing. Buffalo Trace is continuing to produce even more bourbon, and is making significant progress on its ongoing $1.2 billion distillery expansion to increase production for future bourbon demand.
“Whether virtually or in person, we love sharing our rich history and award-winning products with our guests,” Moody said. “We are continually working to better accommodate our growing number of visitors and are excited to see what 2022 brings.”
In order to better accommodate social distancing, the Distillery is limiting tour group sizes and accepts tour visitors by reservation only. As the number of guests visiting the Distillery has increased, Buffalo Trace has accordingly increased the number of tours and tastings offered, though tours continue to book quickly. All Buffalo Trace Distillery tours are complimentary and include a socially distanced tasting.
The Sazerac Company offers free tours at The Sazerac House in New Orleans, Louisiana, A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky and Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.