Exclusive tour takes visitors into newly excavated distillery under Buffalo Trace Distillery
Buffalo Trace distillery and Mint Julep Tours are digging into the rich history of bourbon with a tour of the ruins discovered under the Frankfort whiskey maker. WDRB got a sneak peak before next month's tour.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- During a recent renovation, Buffalo Trace Distillery unearthed the ruins of a distillery from the 1800s. Now visitors on an exclusive Mint Julep Tour can go inside the excavation site in November.
The red brick buildings of Buffalo Trace Distillery house world famous bourbon that's barreled in Frankfort. But step inside a warehouse hidden in the far back corner of the property, and be transported back in time.
"It's the only attraction like this in the world where you can walk into a still working distillery and see ruins of a distillery under one of its warehouse buildings," said bourbon archaeologist Nick Laracuente.
"Bourbon Pompeii" was unearthed back in 2016 as the distillery prepared to renovate the building into a party space. Instead, they stumbled upon ruins dating back to the 1800s.
"When we broke ground starting to remove elements of that concrete floor, we found the old distillery components that had been buried so long ago and forgotten," said Laracuente.
The bourbon archaeologist has been on the dig site since the beginning. "It was all dirt. There was actually bulldozers parked inside this room," he said.
As they dusted off the dirt, Laracuente and his team discovered the foundation of legendary E.H. Taylor's original distillery from 1869. Further exploration uncovered the old distillery's brick pillars and remnants of walls that survived fire, floods and demolition.
"It was a life changing for me. I realized this is a once in a lifetime experience to come and work on something as buried as this," said Laracuente.
After months spent refurbishing the finds, the ruins are now part of the daily Buffalo Trace tour. Visitors walk high above on catwalks, but a new exclusive experience by Mint Julep Tours will take visitors deep into the rare archaeological treasure.
"We were blown away so we knew it was something special and unique that there was no where else in the world where you could experience this history," said Chasta Feller.
The excavation site features structures from 1869, 1873 and 1883 once buried beneath the still visible concrete floor allowing visitors to explore up close and personal.
"Historians, history buffs, bourbon drinkers and folks who have frequented the Bluegrass a lot would love something new and different," said Feller.
Relics from the century old space give those on the tour a look at how the father of the modern bourbon industry started it all.
"It's unique because it reminds us that after doing all the distillery tours in Kentucky, there's still so much more to learn about bourbon in general," said Laracuente.
The holy grail of the restoration is fermenting tanks almost completely intact after all these years.
"When, in the coming year or so, when one of these vats is reactivated, we'll get to taste what E.H. Taylor was making a hundred so odd years ago," said Laracuente.
The ruins are now giving bourbon lovers of today a taste of the past.
The exclusive tour leaves Thursday, Nov. 2 from the Galt House Hotel at 3:45 p.m. and returns at 9:30 p.m. The cost is $175 per person. A portion of the proceeds from each ticket will benefit the Woodford County Heritage Committee.
For more information or to make reservations, click here.
More tours are expected in 2018.
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