Photograph: Magnus

Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery is a distillery located in Frankfort, Kentucky. Since 1870 it has been known by several names, including most notably, the George T. Stagg Distillery and O.F.C. Distillery. Its flagship bourbon, Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey was introduced in August 1999. Buffalo Trace Distillery stands as the oldest distilling site in the United States. Located on what was once an ancient buffalo crossing on the banks of the Kentucky River in Franklin County, the distillery’s namesake is a tribute to the American bison that created paths followed by America’s early pioneers. The Sazerac Company, a New Orleans, Louisiana-based producer and importer purchased the distillery in 1992 and is now the parent company of Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The distillery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places under its old name, George T. Stagg Distillery.

The Buffalo Trace Distillery is home to the world’s smallest bonded storage warehouse, Warehouse V. This warehouse only stores a single barrel of whiskey at a time.


Records indicate that distilling started on the site that is now the Buffalo Trace Distillery sometime before 1773 by Hancock Lee, who died in 1776. The oldest building on the site, the Riverside house, was constructed in 1792 by Commodore Richard Taylor and is still standing today. The first true distillery was constructed in 1812 by Harrison Blanton. In 1870 the distillery was purchased by Edmund H. Taylor and given its first name, the O.F.C. Distillery. Taylor sold the distillery eight years later to George T. Stagg along with the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery. This second distillery was sold within the year to James Graham in order to add more land to the O.F.C. Distillery. In 1886, Stagg installed steam heating in the storage warehouses, the first climate controlled warehouse for aging whiskey in the nation.

In 1972 Gary Gayheart became the master distiller. After his retirement in 2005, he was succeeded by Harlen Wheatley.

Has also been named “Old Fire Copper Distilling Company”, “E. H. Taylor & Company”, “George T. Stagg Distillery”, “Schenley”, “Old Stagg Distillery”, “Leestown Distilling Company, Inc.” & “Ancient Age Distillery”. Named Buffalo Trace Distillery in June 1999.

Merged in 2002 with Old Rip van Winkle.


While Buffalo Trace Distillery is mainly known for its bourbon, it also produces other spirits such as rye whiskey and vodka. “Buffalo Trace” is the flagship bourbon made by Buffalo Trace Distillery. It was introduced in August 1999, two months after the distillery changed its name from the George T. Stagg Distillery. Buffalo Trace is made from corn, rye, and barley malt, and aged in charred oak barrels. Approximately 25–30 barrels are selected and mixed before bottling. It has won numerous awards since its introduction.

The following spirits are produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery:

Ancient Age
Buffalo Trace
Eagle Rare
Elmer T. Lee
George T. Stagg
Hancock’s President’s Reserve
Old Charter
McAfee’s Benchmark
Rock Hill Farms
Van Winkle
W.L. Weller
Thomas H. Handy

About the distillery

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