Buffalo Trace Aiming For A Patent For Its Sour Mash Whiskey Process

Buffalo Trace, many moons ago, decided to get into sour mash whiskey production in a way that’s somewhat different then traditional sour mash expressions. It now has decided to go after a potential patent for its spin on this bourbon style, recently gaining patent pending and looking to expand production, partially in an old school way.

The distillery said it was recently awarded patent pending for its sour mash process which, while proprietary, “does differ from the standard sour mash process traditionally used in distilling in that this sour mash is naturally soured through the holding time instead of forcing the souring with the addition of spent mash from the still as is traditionally done.” It began production of such whiskeys back in 2002, with the first bourbon being bottled some nine years later as part of the inaugural release of the E. H. Taylor, Jr. collection.

Fermentation going on inside a Buffalo Trace tank (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Fast forward to today and Buffalo Trace is continuing to move ahead with making additional stocks of Old Fashioned Sour Mash process bourbons, which will likely be released under the E. H. Taylor, Jr. line in the future. As part of this production it plans to use one of its very original fermenting vats, recently found buried on property dating back to 1882, to make whiskey similar to how it would have been done nearly 150 years ago.

“It really is extraordinarily fortuitous how this all came about,” said Mark Brown, president and chief executive officer, Buffalo Trace Distillery, in a prepared statement. “We’ve been working on the patent application for Taylor’s process for making Old Fashioned Sour Mash since 2015, and then in 2016 we discover his fermenters inside a building he had built, with an intact foundation dating back to 1873. It was obvious once we found them and realized what it was we needed to go back and re-create the Old Fashioned Sour Mash process as Taylor did it, in his early fermenters.”

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It will be several years, noted Buffalo Trace, before this sour mash patent may be approved, provided the distillery decides to proceed with the full patent application, or just keep the existing “patent pending” status.