As the bourbon boom continues to ripple through the world of whiskey, Buffalo Trace Distillery is making big plans and even bigger investments to ensure that it keeps up with growing demand. That big investment has climbed to higher than $200 million allocated to expand distilling operations over the next seven years with a focus on cooking, bottling, fermenting, and expansions in land and barrel warehouses.
So far, two buildings that were originally barrel warehouses then repurposed for other uses have been reclaimed and turned into Warehouse T and Warehouse U, each with a capacity of 50,000 barrels of bourbon. Currently Warehouse T is completely full with Warehouse U filling to capacity by June 2016. Following the filling of those warehouses are Warehouse R and S that combine to hold a total of 100,000 aging barrels. Those are expected to be filled in the next 12 months.
Warehouses R, S, T, and U were all originally barrel warehouses, but were sold off and converted to office buildings in the ‘80s following the collapse of the bourbon industry in the ‘70s. Mark Brown, President of Buffalo Trace Distillery reflected on the cyclical nature of the industry, saying that “It is very gratifying to see the buildings once again being used for their original purpose.”
Other former barrel aging warehouses that are being converted back to their original uses are Warehouses N, O, and P which were most recently used as storage leading up to the opening of the distillery’s distribution center which opened in summer 2015. In addition to the seven warehouses that are being repurposed (well, re-repurposed), Buffalo Trace will begin construction on new barrel warehouses in 2017 on 200 acres of farmland that it acquired recently. The plan includes a total of 30 new warehouses at a rate of one new warehouse every five months for the next ten years.
Of course, this is all in anticipation of future shortages, but Buffalo Trace is still striving to make sure that customers are taken care of in the present. Buffalo Trace sets itself apart from most other distilleries as it planned ahead for the shortage, allocating its bourbons to ensure that each state receives a monthly supply of bourbon.
“We’re still looking at shortages across the board for all of brands, and although the volumes are increasing, allocations will continue,” Kris Comstock, distillery spokesperson, explained in a media advisory. “We spread what we have around as best we can. In many instances, we are literally waiting for barrels to come of age since we aren’t willing to compromise on quality and taste.”