Buffalo Trace $1.2bn expansion progresses

Kentucky distillery Buffalo Trace is “marching ahead” with its US$1.2 billion expansion plan as the construction of a US$50 million bottling hall nears completion.

The distillery’s owner, Sazerac, pledged the investment, which will be phased over the course of a decade, last year.

In addition to the bottling hall, which will be completed in August, four new barrel warehouses have been built on Buffalo Trace’s grounds in the past 18 months. Each warehouse will contain enough barrels to fill 70m bottles.

The fifth warehouse is “taking shape”, while work on warehouses six and seven is planned for later this year.

Each warehouse, built at a cost of US$7m and filled at a cost of US$21m, is insulated and heated during the winter months, allowing greater interaction between the casks and liquid inside. A new warehouse is being built every few months for the next several years.

The new 110,000-square-foot bottling hall is based near Buffalo trace’s distribution centre, which was completed in 2015.

To increase production, the distillery will add a new cooling tower this summer, in addition to four new cookers, which are twice the size of its existing cookers, and four new 92,000-gallon fermenters – the largest in the distilling industry. Meanwhile, the dry house will receive new handling equipment and a new evaporator.

Buffalo Trace will also expand its visitor centre, which had a record year in 2018, welcoming 231,523 guests.

Supply issues

According to senior marketing director Kris Comstock, Buffalo Trace will fill more barrels this year than ever before. However, “demand continues to outpace supply”.

He said: “Many of our Bourbons are aged for eight years or more, so although we have far more than a decade ago, demand continues to outpace our supply of mature Bourbon.

“There will be more available every year, but it will be a while before bottles are readily available on liquor store shelves. While we’re flattered these brands have become so popular, we do understand the frustration our fans are experiencing when they see empty store shelves.

“We promise we are doing everything we can, but we can’t speed up the ageing process, so we just ask for continued patience.”

Buffalo Trace has also reiterated its “commitment” to not raising prices due to supply issues, and not diluting the alcoholic strength of its products.

To see the progression of work on Buffalo Trace’s investment, click on the video below.

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