Wish you could find more bottles from hot brands like Weller, Blanton’s, and the annual Antique Collection? This news might help.
The producer behind those and numerous other category-defining brands, Buffalo Trace Distillery is making progress on its $1.2 billion infrastructure investment started in 2016, the company says, with four new barrel warehouses built within the past 18 months, and the $50-million bottling hall nearing completion.
Unfortunately, however, it will still be a few more years before this National Historic Landmark Distillery believes it can catch up with consumers’ growing demand.
New barrel warehouses AA, BB, CC, and DD are finished and filled with barrels containing what will eventually comprise 70 million bottles on the “whiskey farm,” the 200+ acres purchased adjacent to Buffalo Trace a few years ago. The fifth new warehouse – “EE” – is taking shape, with construction of number six and seven barrel warehouses planned for 2019.
Each of these new warehouses are insulated and heated during the winter months, a rarity for bourbon warehouses. (All barrel warehouses at Buffalo Trace are heated, a tradition started by E.H. Taylor Jr. in the 1800s, and continuing today.) The reasoning behind heating the warehouses is to keep the bourbon moving in and out of the wood as it ages during cold Kentucky winters, rather than lying dormant when the temperature dips down.
These new warehouses cost about $7 million each to build and another $21 million each to fill with barrels, making this a significant part of the $1.2 billion investment.
A new barrel warehouse is being built every few months for the next several years. But all those aging barrels will require more bottling capacity when they come of age, and Buffalo Trace is in the finishing stages of its $50 million bottling hall, located on site near its new distribution center which was completed in 2015.
“We’ve been increasing production for many years now. We’ll fill more barrels this year than ever before in our 246 year history,” says Senior Marketing Director Kris Comstock. “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 awhile 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 aging process, so we just ask for continued patience.”
Buffalo Trace Distillery also remains committed to not raising prices due to the supply/demand imbalance or diluting proof just to fill more bottles, the company says.