Buffalo Trace Expected to Double Distillation Capacity as $1.2 Billion Expansion Continues

by Jim Casey

As Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, continues its $1.2 billion expansion, the iconic bourbon maker is expected to produce more juice than ever before. Of course, Buffalo Trace is responsible for producing some of the finest spirits in the bourbon-drinking universe, including Pappy Van Winkle, W. L. Weller, Col. E.H. Taylor, Eagle Rare, Stagg Jr., and its namesake bourbon, among others.

Nine years ago, the $1.2 billion expansion at Buffalo Trace Distillery began. And, to date, those efforts have resulted in a 50 percent increase in whiskey making at the Distillery. In the coming years, that number is projected to double with the completion of Buffalo Trace Distillery’s additional still house.

“We’re finishing the electrical work in the new still house now. And then will move into commissioning it for test runs in the next few weeks,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller at Buffalo Trace. “If all goes as planned, we will start production before the end of this year. We are excited to double our distillation capacity so we can bring more bourbons to our fans.”

Billion-Dollar Bourbon

The $1.2 billion expansion encompasses all operations at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Expansion started with a new distribution center and bottling operation in 2015 and 2019, respectively. More recently, the Distillery added 14 new barrel warehouses, 12 additional fermenters, additional cookers, a new cooling system and tripled the size of its visitor center. In 2022, Buffalo Trace’s additional dry house, hammer mill, additional still house and wastewater treatment plant have been constructed and will be operational by the end of this year.

The newly constructed still house will begin operating in December 2022 and allows Buffalo Trace to double its production. The second still house is located adjacent to its existing 1930s still house. It contains a duplicate still of Buffalo Trace’s existing still. The still stands 40 feet tall and has the capacity of 60,000 gallons a day.

The expansion has added 200 production-focused jobs at the Distillery over the past four years. With the continued capacity increases, there will be up to 50 more jobs added in the coming few years.

The distillery’s 14 new barrel warehouses (photo courtesy Buffalo Trace).