Ask anyone whether or not spirits really roam the earth, and you’re likely to get a mixed response.
For some, there are absolutely no such things as ghosts. For others, ghosts haunt spaces they are in every day. But for the majority, they’re just not really sure what kinds of spirits you might find wandering between this world and the next.
But for those working in Franklin County’s distilleries, the kinds of spirits they make are much less titillating than the kinds of spirits they see, or think they hear, in their own facilities.
Both Buffalo Trace Distillery and Glenns Creek Distillery have their fair share of unexplained happenings. And both have had their facilities investigated by nationally renowned ghost hunters. But whether ghosts exist still at the sites is for the adventurous to find out.
At Buffalo Trace, ghosts are part of the spirit making process. With a history that dates back to 1787, the distillery has its share of stories. But since being a part of the popular supernatural investigation series “Ghost Hunters” on the Syfy cable channel, Buffalo Trace has seen the popularity of its ghost tours increase.
“Guests sign up for the Ghost Tour year-round, but we always see a bump in interest around Halloween of course. This tour often books up months in advance. We offer the Ghost Tour year-round Thursday-Saturday nights at 7 p.m. Around Halloween, we add a few more tours to the schedule with some nights offering a second tour at 8:30 p.m. We will also offer a few Wednesday evening Ghost Tours this October,” said Kristie Wooldridge, a communications coordinator at the distillery.
According to Lindsey Brewer, one of the ghost tour guides, the distillery is haunted by a number of ghosts. Visitors to the facility, as well as employees, have reported seeing people in turn of the century clothing walking in buildings at the distillery, as well as hearing and smelling things that shouldn’t be there.
Some attribute the otherworldly presence to Col. Albert Blanton, the distillery president who started working at the facility as an office boy and worked his way up the ladder. Blanton died at the distillery in 1959 and employees say he, his wife and other spirits still walk the grounds.
In one story, a supervisor was asked to move bourbon barrels from one part of the warehouse to another to make room for new barrels. As he was directing his crew to get to work, he heard someone tell him to “get out.” When he turned to see who it was, no one was there. After working for a while, he heard the voice again, but this time it said “get out now.”
When he looked around, there was, again, no one there. But this time, he listened to the voice and ordered his crew out into the yard for a break. As the final employee cleared the building, the wall of the warehouse collapsed — something that would have killed the supervisor and his crew had they still been in the building.
“We think he loved this place so much that he never left,” Brewer said. “Some employees have reported hearing people talking in one of the rooms (in Stony Point, the house Col. Blanton built). The room was actually where the Blantons held a number of meetings and parties … Mrs. Blanton was a lady, but it was a family secret that she was also a smoker. In some rooms, you can smell cigarette smoke when there is no one there.”
Brewer said she was giving a tour one day, when an entire tour group heard someone say the word “rye,” but no one was there to speak the word. Also, in one tour, she said, an entire group saw a man in a rickhouse, where the barrels are stored, writing on a clipboard walk through one of the bourbon barrels.
The distillery was the site of an investigation for “Ghost Hunters” in 2013. Almost from the moment they arrived, they noticed activity, according to the hosts of the television show. But the investigators told Buffalo Trace employees that the ghosts there meant no harm, and that they loved the distillery they called home.
For Buffalo Trace, the Halloween season means more interest in the ghost tours, and more opportunity to do other haunting related activities.
“In October, we also host Disturbia at the Distillery, which is a murder mystery dinner event we do each year. We’re hosting two events again this year, one on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26,” Wooldridge said.
Down the road a bit, Glenns Creek Distillery has had its share of unexplained events.
Owner David Meier said he’s had a few experiences at the distillery on McCracken Pike that make him wonder.
“The metal steps outside that lead up to the office have a really distinct sound,” Meier said. “I can tell when someone is coming up those steps. One day, I was here alone and I heard someone walk up those steps, but when I went out to check into it, there wasn’t anyone there.”
Those working at the small distillery, that focuses on hand-crafting each bottle of bourbon it produces, said they’ve heard sample glasses scattering across floors and the voices of people laughing and talking when the facility is empty.
“As to ghost stories — we had some strange things happen for the first year or so when we were here,” Meier said.
The Destination America television show “Ghost Asylum” has investigated the distillery as well.
Centering on a group known as the Tennessee Wraith Chasers, “Ghost Asylum” also focuses on investigating the paranormal. In the episode filmed at Glenns Creek, the group comes to the distillery and finds the ghost of an old distiller and some employees. Meier said the group attempted to “capture” one of the spirits and take it back with them.
“After that we have not had anything happen. Not sure if there is a connection,” he said.
For more information on tours of Buffalo Trace or Glenns Creek, you can contact the distilleries for tour times and costs. Buffalo Trace can be reached at 866-729-3722 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, while Glenns Creek Distillery can be reached at 859-552-3296 or via email at email@example.com.