In another sign of the continued boom of American brown spirits, tourism numbers at Buffalo Trace Distillery have hit record highs.
The National Historic Landmark Distillery welcomed more than 340,000 guests in 2021, the company reports. That is a 134% increase in the number of visitors hosted in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and a 16% increase in visitors from 2019.
Since 2010, visitation at Buffalo Trace has increased by 556%, the company reports.
The distillery completed a massive expansion of its visitor center in 2020 during the onset of the pandemic, tripling its size. This allows for easier social distancing and provides ample space and comfort for guests exploring the gift shop or sampling in the new expansive tasting rooms, the company says.
With visitation continuing to grow, the distillery will make further adjustments.
To accommodate the increasing number of guests as they arrive, Buffalo Trace will renovate its historical Freehouse — located in the visitor parking lot — into a full welcome center. Over the past year, this space has served as the visitor Covid health and safety check-in.
The renovations, which are anticipated to be completed by mid-February 2022, will allow the distillery to check-in visitors for all activities within the same space by early March. The building will retain its historically significant design features, while receiving updates to support modern needs of visitors, including reservation check-in and WiFi.
Plans also include updated landscaping and murals for photo opportunities for arriving guests.
“We are thankful that, despite the challenges the last couple of years have brought, our fans continue to feel comfortable at the Distillery and are traveling from all over to visit us,” says Director of Homeplace Development, Meredith Moody. “We look forward to incorporating our new Welcome Center into our visitor operations in the coming months and are excited to welcome even more guests throughout the year.”
Meanwhile, Buffalo Trace continues to produce even more bourbon, making significant progress on its ongoing $1.2 billion distillery expansion.
In step with the increasing bourbon production and number of guests visiting onsite is the number of virtual visitors.
Buffalo Trace enhanced its social media based #WhiskeyWednesday series in 2021 to include two new formats, called Trace Talk and Homeplace History. Over the course of the year the campaign reached more than 4.1 million viewers worldwide, the company says.
Trace Talk episodes sit down with celebrities and influencers and features the distillery’s brands. It has included guests such as NFL legend Joe Thomas, Olympic medalists Lee Kieffer and Gerek Meinhardt, and comedian Rocky Dale Davis. The #WhiskeyWednesday episodes are viewable on the Buffalo Trace Distillery Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages.
“Whether virtually or in person, we love sharing our rich history and award-winning products with our guests,” Moody says. “We are continually working to better accommodate our growing number of visitors and are excited to see what 2022 brings.”
Tours of Buffalo Trace Distillery remain complimentary. In order to better accommodate social distancing, the distillery limits tour group sizes and accepts tour visitors by reservation only. As the number of guests visiting the Distillery has increased, Buffalo Trace has accordingly increased the number of tours and tastings offered, though tours continue to book quickly.
Registrations for the Trace Tour, Old Taylor Tour, Bourbon Barrel Tour and Expansion Tour are possible through buffalotracedistillery.com/visit-us.html. All tours include a socially distanced tasting. A complete list of safety procedures, along with information about enacted sanitation measures and protective equipment in use, is available here.