Buffalo Springs Distillery

RD #105, 7 th District
Scott County, KY

Stamping Ground is a small town in Kentucky’s Scott County. It was so named by its first settlers, who observed herds of bison trampling the grasses around a fruitful spring. Not long after the buffalo departed, the spring was turned to the production of whiskey. There was a distillery on the site for about 100 years.

The one known as Buffalo Springs Distillery was constructed early in the 20th century. It produced several bourbon brands including Boots and Saddle. It came back and was substantially rebuilt after Prohibition. Otis Beam, one of the seven master distiller sons of Joseph L. Beam, was the distiller. Eventually purchased by Seagram, it ceased production for good in the 1960s and stood vacant for many years thereafter.
Buffalo Springs was typical of the many small town distilleries that once abounded in the region. It generally operated from late fall until early spring, employing local farmers for the period between harvest and planting. As one of the few sources of non-farm employment, it dominated the local economy and was a powerful part of the town’s consciousness.
Historical Marker #2091 in Stamping Ground (Scott County) notes the location of Buffalo Springs, which provided an important supply of water for local distilleries.

Large herds of buffalo once wandered what became Kentucky. These large mammals grazed on the rich grasses and native cane in the central part of the state, and sought out salt licks and springs. One such spring was located in what is now Scott County in a town known as Stamping Ground. Thousands of buffalo would congregate at this spring, causing the ground to be plowed by their heavy bodies and sharp hooves. These buffalo also created the trails that eventually turned into many of the region’s first roads.

In the nineteenth century, local industry followed the example of the buffalo and set up shop near the spring. First, as early as 1814, a tannery was located there. Then, two woolen mills were established in the area. In 1869, a firm purchased one of the woolen mill buildings and converted it into a distillery. The operation changed hands a number of times before coming into local ownership in the early twentieth century. Prohibition put a moratorium on the distillery, but it reopened in 1934, when the amendment was repealed.

Buffalo Springs Distilling Company expanded their operations and obtained rights to Buffalo Springs as a water source from the town of Stamping Ground. In 1941, the plant was sold to the George T. Stagg Company, who owned it for ten years before selling to Schenely Distilleries, Incorporated. The distillery ceased operations in 1968, and, in 1973, Stamping Ground bought the property. In 1974, a tornado damaged many of the property’s buildings. The remaining distillery buildings were razed in 2007.

The distillery was orginally established in 1853 by Robert Samuels, in building that has previously served as a woolen mill.

1868: The distillery was acquired by the Criglers of Covington, KY.

1890: The distillery was sold to Morrin, Powers & Co. of Kansas City (Cecil 1999).

Insurance underwriter records compiled in 1892 suggest that the distillery was of frame construction and property included a single iron-clad, bonded warehouse located 100 ft NE from the still.

At that time, it was being operated as Mullins & Crigler.

Internal Revenue recorded warehouse transactions for The Buffalo Springs Distillery as follows:
( explain: origin of these records, letter codes )

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