Interview Date: October 16, 2008
Interview with Jimmy & Freddie Johnson, a father and son who have both worked for the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Each Johnson talks about growing up in Kentucky and explains how he began working at the distillery. Jimmy describes what the distillery was like in the 1940s and 50s and talks about how he worked his way up to the position of foreman. Jimmy talks about his treatment at the distillery as an African American, explaining that racism was never tolerated during his time working at Buffalo Trace. Both Jimmy’s and Freddie’s remarks emphasize the continued importance of community at the distillery.
Jimmy describes Col. Albert Blanton, an important former president of the distillery as well as the namesake of Blanton’s Single Barrel, and his contributions to Buffalo Trace. The Johnsons make it clear that although there have been some changes to the distillery over time, the fundamental process of making bourbon whiskey remains the same.
About Jimmy Johnson
Jimmy Johnson, ninety-four years old, is a retired foreman who worked for many years at Buffalo Trace, primarily in the warehouses. Jimmy was born and raised in the Frankfort, Kentucky area. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who worked at the distillery before him. Jimmy has two sons and is also a veteran of World War II.
Favorite bourbon: “Whichever one he can get close to.”
About Freddie Johnson
Freddie Johnson, son of Jimmy Johnson, was also born and raised in Frankfort. Johnson moved away from Kentucky after graduating from college to work as a design engineer. He later moved back to Frankfort, where he became a tour guide at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, making him a third generation Buffalo Trace employee.
Favorite bourbon: Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare
Link to full interview video and transcript on the Kentuckiana Digital Library