The Makers: we speak to Buffalo Trace’s Harlen Wheatley


This month in The Makers, we skip across to the US of A, to take a look at that great American spirit, bourbon.

We’ve already looked at the iconic Wild Turkey distillery and spoken with Maker’s Mark chief operating officer, Rob Samuels — today, we’re talking with Buffalo Trace’s Harlen Wheatley. Read on…

The Buffalo Trace Distillery has a long heritage— it’s been making whisky for some 200 years, and is the oldest continuously operating distillery in America.

They make the famous Buffalo Trace bourbon there, as well as other bourbon marks such as Eagle Rare, George T Stagg, and the elusive and sought after Pappy Van Winkle.


Here we speak to Harlen Wheatley about the distillery set up.

Can you tell us a bit about the stills you use to make your bourbon?
We use 2 stills for all our bourbons and whiskies. One is a 7ft diameter continuous still where we run our first distillation and the other is a 10,000 gallon pot still for our second and finishing distillation. They were both put in in the early 1960s.

What is it about your production process that makes the bourbon unique?
Really every step of the way is unique even though the overall process follows the rules set for by the federal government. From pressure cooking, vacuum cooling, fermenter size and mix along with our large distillation system makes it unique. We also have unique warehouses of all shapes and forms that allow us to produce different flavors based on the environment.

Do you accept visitors to the distillery, and if so, when’s the best time to visit?
Yes, we are open 7 days a week for tours. All tours and complimentary and end with a complimentary tasting. You can find out more information and make a reservation for a tour online at


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