Monday, April 27, 2015

Sazerac Plans 'Farm-to-Table' Experience at Buffalo Trace

Last fall, following the lead of several craft distilleries, Sazerac announced plans to farm corn, rye, and barley on land adjacent to its Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. At that time, Sazerac announced the acquisition of 233 acres for that purpose. Yesterday, it announced that another 49 acres have been purchased.

Buffalo Trace plans to use the new acreage to create a farm-to-table "Single Estate" experience by growing its own grain to make its own bourbon.

The new farm-to-table bourbon will be a separate, stand-alone product with its own brand identity. The name, age, price, and other details have yet to be determined.

The Buffalo Trace site is now 439 acres large and the planned farm may not be the final use of the additional property. "These recent land purchases hold a lot of potential for us," said Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley. "We are very excited to begin our farm-to-table venture and see what the future has in store." The site has substantial Kentucky River frontage.

How about this? In the old days, distilleries often raised cows or pigs, feeding them with stillage. Stillage, the spent mash that is left over after all of the alcohol has been extracted, makes a high-protein feed for livestock. Some farmers still collect it in wet form from the distilleries, generally for free. Other distilleries dry it, which allows them to sell it as animal feed, but which is very energy intensive. No distillery today has a feed lot on site. Buffalo Trace could be the first.

NOTE: According to a reader, Short Mountain Distillery in Woodbury and Southern Pride Distillery in Fayetteville, both in Tennessee, are feeding livestock on site with stillage.


Gary A. Turner said...

Great idea Chuck! I would think that the manure from some pigs/cows be beneficial as well to the production of the corn/rye/barley. And - they could become involved in the branding (thinking of what Booker's is doing with batch names, could have batches named for the various pigs/cows, which tourists would naturally want to take pictures with). And when those animals are ready to be harvest . . . bourbon jerky using the bottle/batch-namesake?? Lots of potential!

Unknown said...

The last statement is NOT true. Ragged Mountain Distillery has been feeding cattle on site for about a year now. There are probably others as well

Chuck Cowdery said...

Emphasis unnecessary, Dave. I don't claim to know everything and am grateful to receive new information.

Anonymous said...

Come on Chuck. Reporting about yet another rip off idea by one of the big 4. I think you might need to get out a little more:) .

Sam Komlenic said...

What's the ripoff? As a distillery historian I find the idea intriguing, since, as Chuck says, there were plenty of distilleries back in the day that kept herds on site as a value added product that consumed spent grain.

I applaud Buffalo Trace on their foresight/hindsight!

C. Briar Williams said...

Hi Chuck. Just a heads up that at Coppersea Distilling in New York's Hudson Valley we are also growing/malting our own grain and will be getting our first round of heritage breed pigs to feed on our stillage this Saturday! We're excited to add elements like composting and livestock that close the loop and keep fertility and profitability on the farm/distillery.

Anonymous said...

The ripoff is big Saz yet again pretending how small they are, by copying the processes that small distillers are developing and marketing.

Really simple. Hundreds of millions of dollars pretending they care about anything other than grabbing more market share by scabbing off the work of craft distillers. Who by the way, barely receive the time of day from the bloggers.

Gary A. Turner said...

I'm confused . . . couldn't we argue that "craft distillers" are "scabbing off the work" of the big boys, who despite a big downturn in the industry consolidated and kept innovating long enough to revive demand for bourbon & rye (and the "craft distillers" are jumping on the bandwagon that they got rolling)?

And of course they are trying to grab more marketshare. Welcome to economics 101. Frankly, I'm tired of reading about all of the craft distillers since very few of them have put out products worthy of a lot of discussion (but charge as if their whiskey is some premium product). Whisky Advocate had an entire issue on the craft movement.

I think if one group is benefiting from the other, you have them backwards. Buffalo Trace started the Experimental and Single Oak projects a long time ago, before anyone could name 3 craft whiskey distillers.

akendeall said...

I don't care whose idea it was. I think it's great that the micro-distillers ran with an idea and that that idea was solid enough for the big guys to replicate.

But the real excitement comes from the idea of drinking a more sustainable whiskey. It is an incredibly energy-intensive endeavor, so any reduction in carbon footprint will be welcome...

So long as the juice is tasty!

Anonymous said...

I see the tank trucks from Purnell's sausage plant in Simpsonville traveling
on Hwy 127 frequently hauling stillage from Wild Turkey of Four Roses, haven't followed to see which one.

Erik Fish said...

Ultimately, the "Who did it first?" debate isn't going to matter much. The more distilleries experiment with it, large and small, the better.
I do suspect, though, that once the farm-to-table whiskeys start getting released, the pattern will likely be that the "craft" distillers will tell the better story and have the higher prices, and the "big boys" will have the better product, although I'm sure there'll be exceptions.
Has anyone checked whether MGP has started buying up land in Indiana yet :) ?