Tour guide Fred Mozenter made bourbon fun during our Buffalo Trace distillery tour. He has been sharing his passion for bourbon at the Frankfort distillery for the past seven years
Imagine our surprise when we arrived for our Buffalo Trace distillery tour in Frankfort, Kentucky and met our tour guide from … wait for it … Philadelphia.
With a southern drawl and a warm, welcoming smile, the tour guide seemed every bit like a local at first glance. We totally assumed that he was born and bred in Kentucky until he dropped the bomb that not only was he from Philadelphia but also that he had once lived just five blocks from the house that we left behind when we answered the call to travel.
Located just 660 miles from Philadelphia, Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort feels like another world. Instead of high rises and parking lots, horse farms and distilleries dot the grassy landscape of rolling green hills.
Originally called the O.F.C. Distillery and later the George T. Stagg Distillery, Buffalo Trace makes many bourbons beyond the signature liquor including cult favorite Pappy Van Winkle and Blanton’s. Inspired by the wild buffalo that once roamed freely along the Kentucky River on passes called traces, parent Sazerac Company renamed the company to Buffalo Trace in 1999.
Getting to the Buffalo Trace Distillery Tour
We know how we got to Buffalo Trace from Philadelphia – a simple detour from Cincinnati to Nashville during our epic road trip. After visiting Graeter’s, the country’s greatest ice cream company, it was a no-brainer for us to visit Buffalo Trace, arguably the country’s greatest bourbon distiller.
But how did tour guide Fred Mozenter get to Buffalo Trace from Philadelphia? It’s not exactly a normal path to move from Philadelphia to Frankfort. And how did he end up with a coveted job working at the distillery where he traded his Philly accent for a southern drawl?
It turns out that Mozenter worked for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) as a store manager for 34 years before taking an early retirement package. Upon retiring, he decided to pursue his true passion – bourbon. That passion led him to Kentucky and his second career at Buffalo Trace. Hired because he could “make bourbon fun”, Mozenter has been giving tours at Buffalo Trace for the past seven years with no end in sight.
History and Fun at the Buffalo Trace Distillery Tour
During the tour, Mozenter educated us about the company’s storied history which dates back hundreds of years and survived prohibition. The oldest continuing operating distillery, Buffalo Trace distributed bourbon for “medicinal purposes” during prohibition. Today, the distillery displays memorabilia from its history including site maps and pictures detailing the long, eventful past.
The hard hat tour shows bourbon in its various stages from corn mash to liquid gold. Starting with the cookhouse and the huge fermentation vats, the tour is hands on – literally. During the tour, participants get to taste fermenting mash and wash their hands with freshly distilled bourbon, activities that let all five senses experience the distilling process.
95% of all bourbon is distilled in Kentucky and the state’s limestone water gives bourbon its distinct flavor, Mozenter said. The remaining 5% is made elsewhere in the United States, but the taste is not the same without Kentucky’s limestone water.
“All bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbons,” he said.
At the end of the tour, we tasted four different liquors distilled at Buffalo Trace including Clix vodka and a decadently rich bourbon cream. As an unexpected treat, we indulged in Buffalo Trace chocolates made by a local chocolatier, Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory.
Tasting Tip: Since man cannot live on bourbon and chocolate alone, grab a Grilled Kentucky Hot Brown at Gibby’s in downtown Frankfort after the Buffalo Trace distillery tour. Located just two miles from the distillery, Gibby’s is a local institution and a perfect spot for lunch.
Gibby’s is located at 204 W Broadway St, Frankfort, KY 40601, United States.
We will long remember Buffalo Trace’s distillery tour, especially when we drink their bourbon. We will especially remember tour guide Fred Mozenter. Just like his getting the job at Buffalo Trace, us meeting him was “meant to be.” Hearing his story validated our decision to follow our dreams of traveling and tasting the world.
Cheers to chance encounters and good bourbon!
We reserved the complimentary hard hat Buffalo Trace distillery tour in advance. Free reservations are necessary and can be made here.
Buffalo Trace Distillery is located at 113 Great Buffalo Trace, Frankfort, KY 40601, United States.