When our southbound road trip brought us through the rolling hills of Kentucky, we fortuitously (OK, intentionally) found ourselves passing through Bourbon Country. In this revered space between Louisville and Lexington, limestone-filtered water, fertile soil and a long history of pioneering distillers produce the finest bourbon whiskey in the world.
And when we came across the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, we knew we had found yet another charming backdrop to bring our holiday collection to life. Here along a path carved by buffalo and followed by early Americans, the smell of sweet mash warms the air, inviting you to settle in, take a step back in time and become part of a new legacy in the making.
While many distillers have come and gone, Buffalo Trace has been operating continuously for more than 200 years – the only distillery in the nation with that distinction. Even Prohibition didn’t halt operations here: The distillery served up doctor-prescribed whiskey for “medicinal” purposes. Today Buffalo Trace produces bourbon as well as rye and vodka brands – some made from generations-old recipes and others born from the experiments of modern-day master distillers at the site’s aptly named Warehouse X.
We laced up our most comfortable shoes and got to exploring the grounds of the distillery, which dates back to 1773. It’s easy to get lost in the history of buildings like the Old Taylor House – the oldest residence in Franklin County – and the Burgoo House, built for cooking delicious Kentucky burgoo and bread for parties. But to truly experience Buffalo Trace, you want to taste that sweet mash and walk among the racks of barrels, with sunlight streaming through the windows of the brick warehouse.
Complimentary guided tours take you behind the scenes (and the science) to see why Buffalo Trace has won more awards than any other distillery in the world. Yep, the world. You can walk, quite literally, through the bourbon-making process, from grain selection to fermentation, distillation, barrel storage and hand-packaging of the bottles.
And if you’re like a couple of us with a passion for bourbon, guides and displays offer a deeper dive into the craft. Learn how Buffalo Trace preps its charred white oak barrels (which give bourbon its distinct mellow flavor and amber color) and how even the construction of each warehouse affects the flavor of the whiskey housed inside. Or sneak a peek inside Warehouse X, where the master distiller gauges how variables such as temperature, air flow and humidity affect whiskey quality.
A day at Buffalo Trace isn’t complete of course without a tasting, and the complimentary sampling (which includes an epic non-alcoholic root beer) left us wanting to bring home a few bottles for someone special, who hopefully will share with us.
After such a memorable experience, we decided to partner with our friends at Buffalo Trace for the Buffalo Trace x Frontgate giveaway. Christmas will come early for one bourbon lover, who will receive a Buffalo Trace Lazy Susan, a pair of Frontgate Chilling Whiskey Glasses and two one-of-a-kind Frontgate Majestic Wreaths, hand-decorated with bourbon stave accents by the Buffalo Trace homeplace team. To enter, just like this post, tag two friends and follow @frontgate and @buffalotrace on Instagram by midnight Nov. 15. The winner will be announced on Nov. 18.
READ MORE FROM OUR CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY
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A conversation with former film critic Michael Blowen on caring for more than 200 celebrated horses.