Film worthy family-run bourbon maker to release whiskies

By Attracta Mooney

A family-run whiskey maker that recently played a part in Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ken Burns’s documentary Prohibition is to release a number of its limited edition bourbons this month.

Buffalo Trace Distillery produces the Van Winkle bourbon whiskey portfolio, comprising four bourbons, each aged between 10 and 23 years, and they will hit selected retail stores by the end of November.

The Kentucky-based distiller, which has netted awards from Whisky MagazineMalt Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine, is one of the largest producers of bourbon in the world.

It is part of the Sazerac group of companies, a family business controlled by the Goldrings, who purchased the distiller in 1992.

Burns, whose works Brooklyn Bridge and The Statue of Liberty were both nominated for best documentary Oscars, and his crew spent several days filming at Buffalo Trace, where they interviewed tour guide Freddie Johnson and his father Jimmy, who died this year aged 94. Three generations of the family have worked at the distillery.

Van Winkle has also strong family roots – the Van Winkle family’s involvement in the bourbon industry began in the late 1800s, but it was forced to sell in 1972. However, the family retained rights to one pre-prohibition label, which it resurrected. In 2002, the Van Winkles entered a joint venture with Buffalo Trace Distillery, where all of Van Winkle’s whiskey production now takes place.