Buffalo Trace Distillery, a national historic landmark in Frankfort, welcomes thousands of visitors to its campus every year. In addition to the rolling hills, brick and limestone warehouses, and iconic water tower, tourists get to interact with some of the people dedicated to the production of Kentucky’s signature spirit. In this edition of Kentucky Adventures, 91.3 WUKY’s Alan Lytle introduces us to a man who uses his broad knowledge and family history to create the ultimate bourbon experience.
Colonel Taylor, George T. Stagg, Pappy Van Winkle, Albert B. Blanton, Elmer T. Lee; they’re all names synonymous with these hallowed grounds, and this man makes sure you know about them all.
Kentucky native Freddie Johnson was born in where else but Bourbon, County. He serves as an unofficial brand ambassador of sorts and he’s a third generation employee at Buffalo Trace. His grandfather worked alongside Colonel Blanton, his dad Jimmie was a friend and coworker of Elmer T. Lee, so who better to give me a guided tour of this massive operation?
Sprinkled in amongst his artful explanations and demonstrations of how bourbon is distilled, barreled and bottled, this master story teller throws in more than a pinch of history.
But Johnson is quick to point out the bourbon business has seen its share of ups and downs, and the current boom is a more recent phenomenon.
Now a steady stream of visitors line up almost every day for what’s billed as a “bourbon experience.”
As our journey together nears its end, Freddie reminds me of two universal truths, courtesy costs nothing but counts for everything, and you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
If you’re fortunate enough to land a tour with Freddie, it’s a Kentucky Adventure you won’t soon forget.