Although Prohibition in the United States didn’t officially begin until 1920, temperance had been attempted in some form or another across the country since the American Revolution, with even 23 states having some laws against the sale or production of alcohol by 1916. Before the entire country shut down its production, however, there were still around 3,000 distilleries nationwide, with some 200 of those in Kentucky alone. After Prohibition’s repeal in 1933, only a handful remained, shifting production to “medicinal” purposes. As the longest consistently operational distillery in the U.S., Buffalo Trace (formerly George T. Stagg Distillery) has revived five now-extinct whiskey brands that were around during and prior to Prohibition.
The limited-edition release of the annual Prohibition Collection of whiskeys consists of Old Stagg, Golden Wedding, Three Feathers, Walnut Hill, and Spiritus Frumenti. If Old Stagg sounds familiar it’s because the name was transposed for Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection release, George T. Stagg, honoring the brand’s original founder. Old Stagg, however, is a barrel-proof expression with notes of leather, dark cherries, and vanilla. Dating as far back as 1869, Golden Wedding eventually went caput in the late 20th century, but it had been produced in Canada since the 1940s. This version captures its Prohibition-era profile with an herbal profile consisting of rye and dill on the palate.
Marked by a trio of ostrich feathers, Three Feathers has the oldest provenance, dating back to at least 1812. Since it was known for being a bottled-in-bond and blended whiskey, Buffalo Trace follows suit and makes it both, proofed at 100 and presented with a profile of stone fruit, tropical fruit, smoke, and caramel. Walnut Hill is another unusual case, as it was bottled by George T. Stagg Distillery in the 1930s and overseen by then-president Albert Blanton (yes, that Blanton). This recreation has a profile of molasses, vanilla, and stone fruit. Lastly, Spiritus Frumenti is a nod to the company’s medicinal whiskey during Prohibition, since the name was used to refer to it at the time. This version is fruity and floral with notes of cherry and oak.
Housed in a classic wooden display case, each bottle is 375mL in size and given a vintage label design inspired by their own during Prohibition. The Prohibition Collection is priced at $1,000 when it rolls out to retailers next month.