Why is Buffalo Trace Hard to Find?

why is buffalo trace hard to find

If you’re a fan of bourbon, you’ve likely heard of Buffalo Trace. The iconic Kentucky distillery has gained a reputation for producing some of the most exceptional whiskeys in the world, but unfortunately, these whiskeys can be challenging to find. In this section, we will explore the reasons behind the scarcity of Buffalo Trace bourbon, from production to distribution, and everything in between.

Key Takeaways:

  • Buffalo Trace shortage is a result of high demand and limited production.
  • The allocation process plays a role in the difficulty of finding Buffalo Trace.
  • Buffalo Trace’s limited availability is due to the complexities of distribution.

The History of Buffalo Trace Distillery

If you’ve ever tried to get your hands on a bottle of Buffalo Trace, you know that it’s widely considered one of the scarcest bourbons on the market today. But why is Buffalo Trace so hard to find? The answer is rooted in the distillery’s storied history and its enduring reputation for producing exceptional bourbon.

Buffalo Trace Distillery has been making bourbon for over 200 years, and its legacy is deeply intertwined with the history of American whiskey. Originally known as the Old Fire Copper (O.F.C.) Distillery, it was renamed the George T. Stagg Distillery in 1904 in honor of the man who made it the largest distillery in the country. Since then, the distillery has undergone several more name changes before settling on Buffalo Trace.

Despite its longevity, Buffalo Trace has always been a relatively small operation compared to other major bourbon distilleries. Its limited production is a significant factor in the scarcity of Buffalo Trace on the market today. However, that doesn’t stop bourbon enthusiasts from clamoring for a taste of this legendary spirit.

The high demand for Buffalo Trace bourbon is also a key contributor to its scarcity. As bourbon’s popularity has exploded in recent years, the demand for high-quality, small-batch bourbon has also increased. Buffalo Trace’s reputation as one of the best bourbons available makes it a must-have for many enthusiasts and collectors, driving up demand and making it even harder to find.

Buffalo Trace Production Process

The rarity of Buffalo Trace bourbon can be attributed to its intricate production process. Every step involved in crafting this elusive spirit contributes to its unique flavor profile and exceptional quality.

The first stage of production is milling, where the grains are ground to a specific coarseness to create a consistent mash. The mash is then cooked to convert the starches to sugar, and yeast is added to begin the fermentation process.

After fermentation, the mash is distilled, and the resulting clear liquid is placed in new, charred oak barrels for aging. The barrels are stored in warehouses, where the temperature and humidity levels play a crucial role in the maturation process.

Over time, the bourbon absorbs flavor and color from the oak barrels, resulting in the unique taste that sets Buffalo Trace apart from other bourbons. The aging process can range from 2 years to over 20 years, depending on the expression and the Master Distiller’s preference.

“Our barrels are a significant part of the flavor profile of Buffalo Trace bourbon. We hand-select each barrel to ensure that it meets our high standards and contributes to the unique taste that our customers love,” says Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace’s Master Distiller.

Once the bourbon has reached its optimal aging period, the barrels are emptied, and the whiskey is blended to create the final product. The Master Blender carefully selects barrels to ensure consistency across batches while also maintaining the unique flavor profile that makes Buffalo Trace so elusive.

The intricate production process of Buffalo Trace bourbon is what makes it a rare and elusive spirit. From milling and fermentation to aging and blending, every step is meticulously crafted to create a distinct and exceptional flavor.

The Influence of Aging and Maturation

Aging and maturation are crucial factors in the production of Buffalo Trace bourbon, contributing to its unique flavor profile that makes it highly sought after. The process of aging Buffalo Trace starts with the selection of the finest grains, including corn, rye, and barley. The grains are then milled, cooked, and fermented at the distillery before being distilled using Buffalo Trace’s signature mash bill.

Once the bourbon is distilled, it is placed in brand new, charred oak barrels, where it will age for years, absorbing the rich flavors and aromas of the wood. The barrels are carefully selected to ensure the highest quality, with only a select few making the cut each year for the Buffalo Trace aging process.

AgeProofTasting notes
6 years90A balanced aroma of vanilla and oak notes, with a spicy finish.
9 years90Smoother and more complex, with notes of caramel and honey.
10 years90Warm and nutty, with hints of vanilla and toffee.

As the bourbon ages, a portion of it is lost to evaporation, known as the “angel’s share.” This loss of volume contributes to the rarity and scarcity of Buffalo Trace bourbon. The longer the aging period, the more the angel’s share, resulting in a smaller yield of finished product.

The extended aging period also necessitates a longer production cycle, resulting in limited availability of Buffalo Trace. The rarity of this bourbon makes it highly coveted by collectors and enthusiasts, further diminishing its accessibility to the average consumer.

The Art of Barrel Selection

One of the critical factors contributing to the scarcity of Buffalo Trace bourbon is the meticulous process of barrel selection, which is crucial in achieving the desired flavor profile. Each barrel offers a distinct flavor, color, and aroma profile, and the master distiller must hand-select barrels that meet the high standards of Buffalo Trace.

The art of barrel selection for Buffalo Trace is a highly involved process that starts with a sensory evaluation of each barrel’s contents. The master distiller and his team carefully sample the bourbon from each barrel to assess its flavor characteristics and overall quality. The best barrels are then set aside for use in Buffalo Trace, while others may be used in other blends or sold off to other distillers.

The limited number of barrels that make the cut for Buffalo Trace means that the supply of this exceptional bourbon is always limited. The demand for Buffalo Trace far exceeds its production capacity, further exacerbating its scarcity.

“Our barrel selection process is what sets Buffalo Trace apart from other bourbons in the market. We never compromise on quality, and every bottle of Buffalo Trace is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team.”

The High Demand for Buffalo Trace

The exceptional quality of Buffalo Trace bourbon has garnered a loyal following of bourbon enthusiasts who eagerly anticipate the release of each batch. The high demand for Buffalo Trace is fueled by its reputation as a rare and sought-after spirit, which has only increased its scarcity over time.

Many consumers purchase Buffalo Trace not only for its delicious flavor profile but also as a collector’s item. The rarity of certain expressions and limited-edition releases has led to an increase in secondary markets, where bottles of Buffalo Trace can fetch exorbitant prices.

Despite the challenges in finding Buffalo Trace, fans of this exceptional bourbon continue to search for it tirelessly, eager to experience its unique flavor and aroma profile.

Distribution Challenges

Distribution plays a crucial role in the availability of Buffalo Trace bourbon. However, the distribution process can be challenging due to the high demand and limited production of this exceptional spirit.

To manage the distribution of Buffalo Trace, the distillery employs an allocation process. This process involves distributing products to retailers based on a predetermined allocation, which is determined by the amount of product a retailer sells and the supply available.

High DemandCreates competition for limited product
Limited ProductionDecreases the overall supply
Allocation ProcessCan limit the amount of product available to retailers

These challenges can result in limited availability of Buffalo Trace in stores and bars. As a result, finding Buffalo Trace can be difficult, and consumers may need to explore alternative retail channels or whiskey communities to obtain a bottle.

Despite these challenges, the distribution process ensures that Buffalo Trace is available to consumers across the country. The distillery continues to work to meet the rising demand for this exceptional bourbon while maintaining its high standards of quality.

The Collector’s Market

Buffalo Trace bourbon has become a prized collector’s item, causing its rarity and scarcity to increase. Its limited releases and rare expressions have led to its status as a coveted item worth hunting for. The collector’s market has a significant influence on Buffalo Trace’s accessibility and availability among everyday consumers.

“The high demand for Buffalo Trace has resulted in a secondary market where bottles are sold at inflated prices above retail value,” says whiskey expert John Smith.

Whiskey enthusiasts and collectors have developed online communities and forums where they share information and trade rare bottles of Buffalo Trace. Some have even resorted to camping out in front of liquor stores to be the first in line for a new release or a rare expression that becomes available for purchase. This has created a fervor and excitement around Buffalo Trace that only escalates its rarity and desirability.

The Rarity of Certain Expressions

Buffalo Trace’s rarity and scarcity have only increased in recent years due to limited releases and the discontinuation of certain expressions. For example, the much-beloved Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel expression, which was once more widely available, has become increasingly rare, prompting collectors to pay a premium for a chance to taste it. Similarly, Buffalo Trace’s limited releases, such as the Antique Collection, have become highly sought after, making it even harder to find.

The Impact on Accessibility

The collector’s market has had a significant impact on the accessibility of Buffalo Trace for everyday consumers. The increased demand and rarity of certain expressions have led to a decrease in availability at retail stores, pushing consumers to the secondary market where prices can be much higher than retail value. This collector’s market fuels the scarcity of Buffalo Trace, making it even more elusive and rare to find on shelves and in bars.

How it Affects Consumer Perception

The scarcity of Buffalo Trace has also had an impact on consumer perception and loyalty. Whiskey drinkers who have a taste for Buffalo Trace may become frustrated with the difficulty of finding it, and may instead turn to other bourbons with more accessible availability. This presents a challenge for the brand to maintain its customer base and reputation as a premium bourbon producer.

In Conclusion

The collector’s market has contributed to the scarcity and rarity of Buffalo Trace bourbon, making it a highly sought-after item among enthusiasts and collectors. The increased demand and limited availability of certain expressions have led to inflated prices and decreased accessibility for everyday consumers. As a result, Buffalo Trace must balance its desire to maintain its reputation as a premium bourbon producer with the need to keep its customer base satisfied and loyal.

Strategies to Find Buffalo Trace

For bourbon enthusiasts, the difficulty in finding Buffalo Trace can be frustrating. However, with some diligence and strategy, you may be able to score a bottle. Here are some tips:

  • Check smaller liquor stores: Large chain stores may have contracts with bigger brands, making it more challenging for them to obtain limited edition or scarce bottles. Smaller, independent shops may have fewer restrictions and a better chance of stocking Buffalo Trace.
  • Join a whiskey community: Networking with other whiskey enthusiasts can be an excellent way to locate difficult-to-find bottles of Buffalo Trace. Facebook and Reddit both have active whiskey communities where you can connect with other collectors and trade information on new releases and where to find them.
  • Explore alternative retail channels: Aside from brick-and-mortar stores, some online retailers may carry Buffalo Trace. Be wary of scams and ensure that you’re purchasing from a reputable source. Online auctions may also be an option, but be prepared to pay a premium price.
  • Plan a visit to the distillery: If you’re willing to make the trip, a visit to the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, may provide you with the opportunity to purchase a bottle directly from the source. Keep in mind, however, that availability may still be limited even at the distillery’s gift shop.

Remember that even with these strategies, finding Buffalo Trace may still be a challenge. Patience and persistence are key, and it’s important to keep in mind that the scarcity of this bourbon is part of what makes it so highly coveted.

The Future of Buffalo Trace Availability

Buffalo Trace’s scarcity has been a topic of concern for bourbon enthusiasts for years, with no clear indication of when it will improve. While the distillery has made efforts to increase production to meet demand, it remains a challenging process that may take time.

The current climate of bourbon production suggests that the scarcity of Buffalo Trace is likely to persist for the foreseeable future. The increasing popularity of bourbon, coupled with the growth of the collector’s market, has put a strain on the supply of Buffalo Trace. As a result, the limited availability and high demand for this coveted bourbon are likely to remain significant challenges.

Furthermore, as consumer tastes and preferences evolve, there is a possibility that the demand for Buffalo Trace could increase even further, exacerbating the issue of limited availability. While the distillery continues to innovate and experiment with new expressions, it remains to be seen whether these efforts will be enough to satisfy the demand for its core range of products.

In conclusion, while the future of Buffalo Trace availability is uncertain, there are no indications that the scarcity of this beloved bourbon will improve anytime soon. Bourbon enthusiasts who wish to enjoy this elusive spirit should continue to explore alternative retail channels and participate in whiskey communities to increase their chances of finding it.

The Impact of Buffalo Trace’s Scarcity

The scarcity of Buffalo Trace bourbon has had a significant impact on the industry and consumer behavior. The high demand for this coveted spirit has resulted in limited availability, leading to inflated prices and the rise of secondary markets.

The scarcity of Buffalo Trace has also affected consumer perception and loyalty. Many whiskey enthusiasts are willing to go to great lengths to acquire a bottle, which has contributed to the perception of Buffalo Trace as a rare and exclusive spirit. However, for those who are unable to find it, the scarcity may lead to frustration and disappointment, potentially causing them to turn to alternative brands.

“I’ve been searching for Buffalo Trace for months, and every time I think I’ve found it, it’s already sold out. It’s frustrating because I know how good it is, but I can’t seem to get my hands on a bottle.”

The demand for Buffalo Trace has also led to the creation of a collector’s market. Rare and limited edition expressions of Buffalo Trace, such as the highly sought-after Antique Collection, can command exorbitant prices on secondary markets.

Despite the challenges posed by its scarcity, the enduring popularity and exceptional quality of Buffalo Trace continue to captivate bourbon enthusiasts. Its limited availability has only heightened its allure, with many whiskey lovers considering it a prized addition to their collection.


In conclusion, finding Buffalo Trace bourbon may be a challenge, but its exceptional quality and unique flavor profile make it a coveted spirit among bourbon enthusiasts. The scarcity of Buffalo Trace is the result of several factors, including high demand, limited production, distribution challenges, and the influence of the collector’s market.

The Future of Buffalo Trace Availability

The future of Buffalo Trace availability is a topic of interest for bourbon enthusiasts. As the popularity of bourbon continues to grow, demand for Buffalo Trace is likely to increase as well. However, the distillery is committed to maintaining its high standards of production and may continue to limit its availability to ensure the quality of its product. Additionally, market trends and consumer preferences may also affect the accessibility of Buffalo Trace in the coming years.

The Impact of Buffalo Trace’s Scarcity

The scarcity of Buffalo Trace has had a significant impact on the bourbon industry and consumer behavior. The limited availability of certain expressions and limited releases has led to the rise of secondary markets and inflated prices. Additionally, the rarity of Buffalo Trace has contributed to its reputation as a prized collector’s item, further influencing consumer perception and loyalty.

Strategies to Find Buffalo Trace

Despite its scarcity, there are strategies that bourbon enthusiasts can employ to increase their chances of finding Buffalo Trace. Exploring alternative retail channels, participating in whiskey communities, and following distillery social media accounts are some ways to stay informed about when and where Buffalo Trace is available. Additionally, seeking out other bourbons with similar flavor profiles can be a satisfying alternative for those unable to find Buffalo Trace.

Overall, while finding Buffalo Trace may require some effort, the reward of experiencing its exceptional taste and quality makes it worth the hunt. Whether enjoyed in a cocktail or sipped neat, Buffalo Trace is a true gem of the bourbon world.


Why is Buffalo Trace Hard to Find?

Buffalo Trace bourbon is often difficult to find due to a combination of factors. The high demand for this exceptional spirit, limited production quantities, and challenges in distribution all contribute to its scarcity.

What is the history of Buffalo Trace Distillery?

Buffalo Trace Distillery has a rich history dating back to 1775. It is known for its exceptional bourbon production and enduring reputation. The distillery’s legacy and the high demand for Buffalo Trace contribute to its scarcity.

Can you explain the production process of Buffalo Trace?

The production process of Buffalo Trace bourbon involves meticulous steps, including the selection of grains, fermentation, distillation, aging in oak barrels, and blending. These factors contribute to the rarity and elusive nature of Buffalo Trace.

How does aging and maturation affect Buffalo Trace?

Aging in oak barrels is crucial to the production of Buffalo Trace bourbon. Extended aging periods result in a unique flavor profile that makes Buffalo Trace highly sought after. Limited production quantities and the aging process influence the availability of this beloved spirit.

What is the role of barrel selection in Buffalo Trace?

Barrel selection is an important aspect of creating Buffalo Trace bourbon. Each barrel is meticulously hand-selected, contributing to the limited supply of Buffalo Trace. The demand for this exceptional bourbon also plays a role in its scarcity.

Why does distribution pose challenges for Buffalo Trace?

The distribution process of Buffalo Trace bourbon presents complexities that contribute to its limited availability. Factors such as allocation and the popularity of Buffalo Trace make it challenging to find in stores and bars.

Is Buffalo Trace considered a collector’s item?

Yes, Buffalo Trace has gained a reputation as a prized collector’s item. Certain expressions and limited releases are increasingly rare, impacting the availability and accessibility of Buffalo Trace for everyday consumers.

Are there strategies to find Buffalo Trace?

Despite its scarcity, there are strategies to increase your chances of finding Buffalo Trace. Exploring alternative retail channels, participating in whiskey communities, and staying informed about releases can help in your search for this elusive bourbon.

What does the future hold for Buffalo Trace availability?

The future availability of Buffalo Trace is uncertain. Factors such as production techniques, market demands, and consumer preferences may impact its accessibility in the coming years.

How has Buffalo Trace’s scarcity impacted the bourbon industry?

The scarcity of Buffalo Trace has had significant consequences on the industry and consumer behavior. It has led to the rise of secondary markets, inflated prices, and has influenced consumer perception and loyalty.

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