Buffalo Trace Distillery has announced The Prohibition Collection, an annual, limited-edition, multi-bottle collection reflecting whiskeys legally produced and sold at the distillery during arguably the most contentious time period in alcohol history.
Known then as the George T. Stagg Distillery, the debut release tributes five Prohibition Era-brands that have, until now, disappeared: Old Stagg, Golden Wedding, Three Feathers, Walnut Hill and George T. Stagg Spiritus Frumenti.
From 1920 to 1933, the production, sale and transportation of alcohol was banned in the United States due to the ratification of the 18th amendment to the United States Constitution, an era known as Prohibition. Purchasing alcohol was only legal with a medical prescription. At the time, many doctors believed spirits to be a cure for a wide variety of ailments. As such, the U.S. Government granted licenses to six distilleries to bottle medicinal whiskey: one of those distilleries was the George T. Stagg Distillery in Frankfort, KY — which today is known as Buffalo Trace Distillery.
The inaugural Prohibition Collection features five whiskeys, each created in tribute to a historic brand that was housed at the Buffalo Trace Distillery site during Prohibition:
- Old Stagg, a barrel-proof (132.4 proof), uncut and unfiltered whiskey featuring an oaky, vanilla aroma, the company says, and a sweet and mellow taste with notes of leather and dark cherries and a smooth vanilla finish. Old Stagg was originally created in honor of former owner George T. Stagg and replaced O.F.C. Bourbon as the distillery’s flagship brand. Today, the brand lives on as Stagg and George T. Stagg.
- Golden Wedding, a 107-proof rye whiskey that has heavy rye on the nose, the company reports, plus a grainy, herbal taste with notes of dill pickle and rye; and a spicy, smokey finish with a hint of banana. The brand, which dates back to 1869, was originally produced by Schenley Distilling at the Joseph S. Finch Distillery in Pennsylvania. During Prohibition, its bottling was split between Schenley’s Pennsylvania distillery and the George T. Stagg Distillery. In the late 1940’s, the brand was moved to Schenley’s distillery in Canada and would become a Canadian whiskey before ceasing to exist in the late 20th century.
- Three Feathers, a 100-proof, bottled-in-bond whiskey created by Buffalo Trace Master Blender Drew Mayville. Dating back to at least 1812, Three Feathers was first advertised as a premium rye before becoming a bonded and then a blended whiskey. Today’s recreation presents a vanilla, charred oak aroma with stone and light tropical fruit taste, and smokey, caramel and a slight cocoa finish, the company says.
- Walnut Hill, a 90-proof high-rye bourbon featuring a slightly citrus aroma with light corn and oak notes, the company reports, sweet molasses, stone fruit and vanilla taste, and a smokey, woodsy finish. This historic spirit was bottled by the George T. Stagg Distillery during Prohibition with production overseen by President Albert Blanton.
- George T. Stagg Distillery Spiritus Frumenti, a 110-proof wheated bourbon honoring the medicinal whiskey produced at the George T. Stagg Distillery. “Spiritus Frumenti,” which translates as “Spirit of the Grain” in Latin, existed as a generic name for medicinal whiskey during Prohibition. Tasting notes include an aroma of caramelized brown sugar, according to the distillery, fruity yet floral taste with notes of cherry and oak, and finishes with vanilla, wheat and citrus.
“We stand behind our motto, ‘Honor Tradition, Embrace Change’,” says Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace Master Distiller. “Each of these brands disappeared slowly in the years after Prohibition, but they were integral to our survival. Without them, today there would be no Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare or Weller bourbons. The Prohibition Collection is a tribute to these great whiskeys from our past.”
The entire collection is housed in a custom wooden display case, with each of the five 375-ml. bottles inspired by their Prohibition Era packaging and original bottle size. The Prohibition Collection will roll out in limited quantities to its distributor network, which will ship to select retailers, bars and restaurants across the U.S. in October 2023 at a suggested retail price of $999.99 per five-bottle collection.
This follows the Buffalo Trace release of Daniel Weller Bourbon.