World War Two caused many distilleries to go out of business. As part of the war effort, they were required to make making high proof alcohol for munitions and other war needs such as synthetic rubber. The problem was that the amount of profit on these spirits was limited by the government, so many distilleries had too much debt to survive on the small amount of profit allowed. The economics forced them out of business and Schenley was happy to acquire more distilleries. It gave Schenley additional aging alcohol to support their brands while they too were prohibited from making beverage alcohol. The Buffalo Springs Distillery was acquired by Schenley in 1941.
Buffalo Springs Distillery in Stamping Ground, Ky. was re-opened at the end of Prohibition. It was built as a modern distillery with several warehouses. The main distillery was designed with large sections of walls made of glass blocks to allow natural light into the distillery. Their main brands were “Buffalo Springs” and “Boots and Saddles” Bourbons. Schenley chose not to support these brands and they were off the market by the end of the 1950s.
After the war, Schenley invested a lot of money in the distilleries they owned. The executives were looking forward to the growing market for Bourbon after the war was over and the economy was growing. They took photographs at their distilleries and then had aerial photographs made so decision makers could understand the whole site better as they decided how to invest in construction. It was determined that the Stamping Ground, Buffalo Springs Distillery needed very little investment at that time. It was on the edge of town, but there was little property for expansion. When the Korean War broke out, Schenley filled the warehouses at all of their distilleries including Buffalo Springs. They were afraid of another war-time Prohibition.
That never happened and at the end of the war Schenley had massively over-produced. They started to close distilleries and the Buffalo Springs Distillery was one of the first to be shut down. By the mid-1960s the distillery was sold. By the end of the 20th century the buildings were in ruins and they were eventually torn down.
Cover Photo Courtesy of Rosemary Miller, Distillery Image from the Archives of Michael Veach