One of the nation’s foremost bourbon producers is feeling charitable in 2022. Buffalo Trace Distillery, the decorated spirits-maker out of Kentucky, has pledged to donate 2,200 bottles of their work to charity this year. The most notable five bottles went to auction this March, an extremely rare collection of aged bourbon four decades old.
You’ve probably heard the name Buffalo Trace, whether you like whiskey or not. The label has grown into an iconic player in the American spirits landscape and is now made up of many lauded brands, from the eponymous Buffalo Trace to Eagle Rare, Van Winkle, and W.L. Weller. Some of the best whiskies in the country are turned out by this longstanding giant.
Buffalo Trace contends it has the oldest continuously running distillery in America, dating back to the late 18th Century. It was called the Old Fashioned Copper Facility, hence the O.F.C. acronym you see now and again on certain releases. The bottles they pulled out for auction this year were particularly special.
In March, Buffalo Trace unveiled five large-format bottles starting at around $25,000 a pop. That’s a lot of loot, but keep in mind this is forty-year-old whiskey and in a rather large vessel. The bottles are big, like soccer trophy big, clocking in six liters apiece. That’s about 135 shots for those keeping track at home.
The release comes from 1982 and is the brand’s only vintage-dated bourbon, making it all the more special. They were auctioned as NFTs via BlockBar during a five-day event earlier this spring. All told, a total of $280,000 was raised, with the top bottle garnering a $60,000 bid. Just how good is it?
Harlen Wheatley is a master distiller at Buffalo Trace and touts the sophistication of this rare release. It’s said to boast “extraordinary richness and butteriness with layers of apple, pecans, ripened pear, dark Belgian chocolate, caramel, and a kiss of black cherries,” the kind of complexity most people associate with vintage wine.
“This remarkable whiskey transitions to a memorable finish of dried dark fruit with delightful lingering oak. All the time knowing that you’re tasting history as you taste the last drops,” says Wheatley. “This truly is a once in a lifetime taste experience.”
A precious whiskey such as this deserves an elegant bottle. The OFC 1982 is housed in a hand-cut crystal bottle with custom copper lettering created especially for Buffalo Trace. It’s a towering figure, standing over two feet tall and possessing more than a gallon of the delicious brown spirit. It weighs in at nearly 23 pounds, liquid included. Needless to say, it demands the very best whiskey glasses for maximum enjoyment.
The shape is a thing of beauty and was made specifically for the brand. The winning auction members received the bottle set up in a custom wooden box along with various info about 1982 in particular (the birth year of the CD player, for example). For collectors and whiskey lovers, it doesn’t often get much better than this. And better still, the massive proceeds went to a shortlist of worthy causes.
Buffalo Trace is part of a large and growing family of brands committed to giving back. Drinks producers all over the place are getting into the philanthropic spirit, from rum specialists to gin producers to breweries. It’s a trend we could get used to, as it not only supports meaningful and impactful organizations but puts a real face on a brand.
A different charity was selected for each of the five bottles released from 1982:
- World Central Kitchen – one of the globe’s most famous food providers in disaster areas, feeding those who are living through crises like war and climate change
- The James Beard Foundation – the nation’s foremost advocate of the culinary arts, presently working hard to keep the restaurant industry afloat
- Elton John AIDS Foundation – a worldwide charity taking on HIV, providing care, elevating awareness, and looking to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030
- The Art of Elysium – an artist collective striving for social change via art
- 261 Fearless – a global women’s running organization devoted to uniting and uplifting women through running
“We have been inspired by what our charity partners have done to help communities worldwide and are proud to help further their missions through the release of our exclusive O.F.C Vintage 1982 NFTs,” said Vice President of Marketing for Buffalo Trace Distillery, Sara Saunders. “We are thrilled to bring our rich history and philanthropic efforts to the forefront of today’s technology and we couldn’t ask for a better ally than BlockBar to help us achieve that.”
Getting your paws on one of the proposed 2,200 special bottles Buffalo Trace is planning to release this year will likely require a hefty bet or some savvy online trading. While the main NFT auction has come and again, more bottles will be released throughout the year, with proceeds going toward even more non-profits all over the world. Stay tuned to the brand’s website and outlets like Whiskey Advocate for all the latest and greatest.
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