Buffalo Trace Distillery will begin tours of its “Bourbon Pompeii” site this August. Officially called the E. H. Taylor Tour, this will visit three sites at this National Historic Landmark distillery, two of which have not been open to the public for touring previously.
First the tour will visit the Old Taylor House, a small white house built in the 1790s, which is the oldest house in Franklin County, Kentucky. Built by Commodore Richard Taylor, E. H. Taylor’s great-grandfather, the Old Taylor House has been a residence, a small hospital and a laboratory. After it had sat vacant for a number of years, Buffalo Trace restored it a few years ago and now uses it for internal meeting space. It has not been open to the public for touring until now.
The second stop on the E. H. Taylor Tour will be the O.F.C. Building (pictured atop), better known by its nickname: “Bourbon Pompeii.” This building includes the original foundation wall built by Taylor in 1869, and then a second foundation Taylor built in 1873, when he set out to build the industry’s first “modern” distillery.
The fermenting vats inside were found intact and date back to 1883. The foundation and the vats were covered with a cement floor when the building was decommissioned in 1958 and forgotten, until 2016 when Buffalo Trace began work on the O.F.C. Building to turn it into meeting and event space.
That plan was altered upon discovery of this archeological site, although the upper levels of the building will still be used as event space as originally planned. One of Taylor’s fermenters will also be re-lined with copper as Taylor had originally designed it, for usage in the near future.
“These are unique finds, and may arguably be called the oldest, most intact distillery in existence in the United States,” the company states, as “intact remains of early buildings and equipment on most distilleries are completely removed during development and expansion.”
The third stop on the E. H. Taylor Tour will take guests inside Warehouse C, located across from the Visitor Center. This warehouse was built by Taylor in 1884 and is a brick and limestone structure that holds about 25,000 barrels. All of the E. H. Taylor, Jr. line of whiskies reside in this warehouse, along with other brands distilled by Buffalo Trace.
Taylor was known for his innovation and quality, which is “evidenced by his inclusion of steam heat in the warehouses for the winter months, and the fine architectural details found in his buildings,” the company states. Buffalo Trace still heats its warehouses to this day, which forces its bourbons to receive a full cycle of aging year round instead of lying dormant in the barrel when the temperature dips in the 40s.
After visiting Taylor’s barrel warehouse, guests will then return to Buffalo Trace’s Visitor Center, where they will enjoy a tasting to round out their tour. The new E. H. Taylor Tour will last about an hour and is complimentary. It will run Monday-Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Reservations are required for this tour and can be made online here: