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Bourbon distillery Buffalo Trace makes headway with US$1.2 billion expansion

Work on the 246-year-old distillery continues in a critical attempt to increase bourbon supply for the future and keep up with demand.

New Grain Dryer Lifted into Dry House:Bourbon distillery Buffalo Trace makes headway with US$1.2 billion expansion

Buffalo Trace distillery, based out of Kentucky, has made progress in its $1.2 billion expansion, which includes the construction of an additional still, more barrel warehouses, added fermenters and an expansion of the dry house operation.

Over the past year, a second still house has been built next to the existing 1930s structure. At 40 ft tall, it has doubled production capacity and holds 60,000 gallons.

The National Historic Landmark also added eight new fermenters which went online in January of this year, bringing the count up to 24. Set up next to the old fermenters erected in 1933, the new and larger constructions hold 93,000 gallons each.

Built in 1884, the distillery’s oldest aging warehouse property has also been repurposed after over two decades out of use. Warehouse B’s new role as a dry house means that none of the distillery’s byproducts go to waste, as pent mash dried on site can be sold to farmers for livestock feed.

On top of this movement towards reducing waste, Buffalo Trace has broken ground on a $40 million wastewater treatment facility allowing it to become self-sufficient in disinfecting water released back into the Kentucky river.

Despite these improvements, Buffalo trace still has a way to go in catching up with demand, which is expected to take another few years.

“The bourbon category continues to grow at a rapid rate, and while we have been increasing production across our portfolio for the last several years, we are still catching up to consumer demand,” said Sara Saunders, vice president of marketing.

“While we are producing and shipping a record amount of product, we understand the frustration from fans that our brands aren’t easy to find or readily available. We take pride in the quality of our product above all else, and we believe that there is no substitute for aging. Unfortunately, this lengthens the lead time of getting product into consumers’ hands.”

Despite the short closure that COVID-19 forced on the distillery in opening to the public, Buffalo Trace has seen more than 235,000 visitors since its reopening last July.

Developments on the current expansion include more barrel aging warehouses planned for the future, as well as a new mill house to match the new distillation capacity.

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