Buffalo Trace Operates 1883 Fermenter For First Time in 100 Years

Buffalo Trace has found a new way to showcase vintage bourbon.

The company has started up one of Col. E.H. Taylor Jr.’s original fermenters. For the first time in 100 years, the fermenter, which dates back to 1883, has been recommissioned and once again filled with Old Fashioned Sour Mash.

Buffalo Trace Distillery made a historic discovery in 2016 when it uncovered Col. E.H. Taylor Jr.’s intact fermenting vats dating to 1883, the original foundation wall Taylor built in 1869 and a second foundation built by Taylor in 1873. The distillery remnants and fermenters had been decommissioned, covered with a cement floor and forgotten, until the distillery began work on the O.F.C. Building to turn it into more meeting and event space. With this find, the distillery altered its plans and began to excavate and preserve this piece of distilling history. The space now goes by the nickname “Bourbon Pompeii,” the company says.

Once uncovered, the National Historic Landmark distillery set forth to bring one of the fermenters back online. The top of Fermenter No. 7 has been lined with cleaned-up bricks uncovered during excavation, and relined with copper as it would have during Taylor’s tenure. After adding piping to connect the fermenter with the distillery’s microstill, the fermenter was tested earlier this month and then filled with mash for the first time in 100 years on the morning of Jan. 10th.

The distillery plans to use the fermenter to produce Old Fashioned Sour Mash, similar to how Taylor did nearly 150 years ago. The distillery applied for a patent on this sour mash process and received patent pending status in 2017.

The O.F.C. Building, including the recommissioned fermenter and other distillery remnants, are part of the distillery’s complimentary E.H. Taylor Tour, which runs Monday through Friday by reservation.

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