For Immediate Release
BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY PASSES THE TORCH
Master Distiller Gary Gayheart retires
FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY – Buffalo Trace Distillery recently marked the end of an era, hosting a retirement dinner in honor of Master Distiller Gary Gayheart. Gayheart retires following 36 years of service at Buffalo Trace and more that 44 years in the industry.
President Mark Brown, Vice President/General Manager Richard Wolf, Master Distiller Emeritus, Elmer T. Lee and Buffalo Trace’s new Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley were present to honor Gayheart and present him with a plaque for his years of dedication. Wheatley has trained under Gayheart for the last ten years and is ready to carry on the rich tradition of Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Also present to honor Gayheart were his wife, Linda, their two daughters, Gabrielle and Melissa and son-in-law, Derek Nesselrode.
Gayheart attended the University of Louisville and during that time he became interested in the distilling process, having visited several distilleries during his schooling. In 1961 he earned a degree in chemistry from U of L and after graduation, joined Fleishmann Distilling Corp. in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Gayheart worked at the Owensboro plant for eighteen months and then was transferred to a new plant in Plainfield, Illinois, where he developed and supervised the plant’s quality control program. In 1969, he joined Schenley Distillers Frankfort, Kentucky plant as a replacement for the soon to retire master distiller. Gary worked in distilling, quality control and barrel warehousing to gain the necessary experience and expertise to insure continuity and quality of the plant's products. Upon Al Geiser’s retirement in 1972, Gary became the plant’s new Master Distiller and in early 1980, he assumed Distiller’s responsibility for Schenley’s Bernheim plant in Louisville, dividing his time between the two plants.
In 1983, Schenley sold the George T. Stagg Distillery, its whiskey and a number of brands to a group of private investors. This new company retained Gary as distiller and he participated in the introduction of Blanton’s, the world’s first single barrel Bourbon. In 1992, the distillery and its whiskey were sold, this time to the Sazerac Company, Inc. of New Orleans. All of the employees were retained, and the distillery began a program of brand expansions and new product introductions, such as Rain Vodka, the only vodka distilled from organic corn. In 1999, the distillery was renamed Buffalo Trace and with Gary as Master Distiller has garnered many awards, such as Distillery of the Year in 2000 and Whiskey of the Year in 2001 and 2002 as well as 2005 Distiller of the Year.
About Buffalo Trace
Buffalo Trace Distillery is a family-owned company based in Franklin County, Kentucky. The distillery's rich distilling tradition dates back to 1787 and has included such legends as E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee. Buffalo Trace is a fully operational distillery producing bourbon and vodka on site, and was recently named to the National Historic Register. The distillery is also part of the Sazerac family of companies, which has operations in New Orleans, Louisiana; Franklin County, Kentucky; Fredericksburg, Virginia and Loomis, California. For more information, please visit www.buffalotrace.com.
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