Last week, I was invited to the grand opening of the O.F.C. Building and Bourbon Pompeii reveal at Buffalo Trace Distillery, which is located in Frankfort, Kentucky. I was super excited because Buffalo Trace is one of my favorite distilleries, and I have been anticipating the reveal of Bourbon Pompeii, ever since they mentioned they discovered it. Unfortunately, I lost some of my videos and some photos that I took, because my phone was on the fritz and I had to restore it. Basically, everything from the past two months is gone. Sad face. Luckily, I’ve been using my DSLR more frequently and not necessarily relying on my iPhone.
For those that may be unfamiliar with bourbon and Buffalo Trace, Buffalo Trace is the oldest continuously-operating distillery in the United States. It is claimed that the location of Buffalo Trace was once an ancient buffalo crossing on the banks of the Kentucky River, so they in turn named the distillery after the American bison. Buffalo Trace has been known by other names over the years. Records indicate that on the site of what is now Buffalo Trace, distilling began in 1775 by Hancock Lee and his brother Willis Lee, who died in 1776. The oldest building at Buffalo Trace is called the Riverside House and it was constructed in 1792 by Commodore Richard Taylor and is still standing. The first distillery was constructed in 1812 by Harrison Blanton. In 1870, the distillery was purchased by Edmund H. Taylor and given its first name, the Old Fire Copper (O.F.C.) Distillery. Taylor sold the distillery, along with the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery to George T. Stagg. The second distillery was sold within the year to James Graham, so more land could be added to the O.F.C. Distillery. In 1886, Stagg installed steam heating in the storage warehouses, which was the first climate controlled warehouse for aging whiskey in the nation. The Buffalo Trace brand was introduced in August 1999.
Remember how I mentioned the O.F.C. Building? That’s indeed the same as the Old Fire Cooper Distillery dating back in the 1800s. This is where the “Bourbon Pompeii” was discovered. To really understand this discovery, first you might need a little history on the O.F.C. distillery. The first O.F.C. Distillery was built on site by Taylor in 1869. It was then torn down in 1873 and rebuilt to be even bigger. The second O.F.C. distillery was destroyed by a fire caused by lightning in 1882. When Taylor began rebuilding from the fire, he knew he was going to make something special. He made it his goal to perfect the creation of fine bourbon and he knew he would show his masterpiece to the world. He himself described it by saying, “The fermenting room of the O.F.C. distillery is believed to be the handsomest and best in America.” While I’m sure was a little bit biased towards his own distillery, many of his contemporaries agreed.