#FreddieBourbonHOF18 Petition Successful!
At the beginning of the year, a petition began circulating around social media on behalf of Buffalo Trace Distillery tour guide, Freddie Johnson. Freddie, a third generation guide of the distillery, had not yet been acknowledged by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) Bourbon Hall of Fame. Steve Akley, Kentucky Colonel and owner/founder of the ABV Network, decided to right the wrong and started the petition and a groundswell of support to have Freddie recognized. “It was an incredible honor to help create awareness… We had 890 signatures on our online petition. We supported this effort by publishing a special edition of our publication Bourbon Zeppelin dedicated to the contributions of the Johnson family,” Akley said.
“He’s the ultimate ambassador.”
-Steve Akley, ABV Network
While Sazerac, the parent company of Buffalo Trace, is notably not a member of the KDA and therefore not an official stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, don’t miss the opportunity to visit this gorgeous distillery. To call Freddie a fan favorite is a gross understatement. Freddie is pure magic and, if your haven’t toured Buffalo Trace with him, you simply haven’t lived your best life.
From Buffalo Trace:
In 2002 Buffalo Trace Distillery received a rare gem when Freddie Johnson joined the team as a tour guide. Freddie was in the middle of a successful career as a network/operations engineer in Atlanta, GA when he put all of it aside to fulfill a promise made to his father, Jimmy, more than 20 years earlier. He had promised his father that he would work at the Distillery during his lifetime so they could say they had three generations of the Johnson family that worked at Buffalo Trace. Freddie took early retirement and moved back to care for his father and brother. Jimmy got him a job as a tour guide at the Distillery in 2002 but Freddie had been in and around the Distillery since he was five years old, coming to work with his father and grandfather and playing on the grounds and in the old warehouses.
Little did Buffalo Trace Distillery know it had gained a future star of the bourbon industry. This year, 16 years after Freddie started at Buffalo Trace, he received one of the bourbon industry’s highest honors by being inducted to the Bourbon Hall of Fame on September 14, 2018.
Freddie is a man of honor, knowledge, kindness, compassion and humor. Not a person walks by Freddie without a big smile and wave. Freddie has become a celebrity around the National Historic Landmark Distillery.
Freddie weaves together his childhood memories with the Distillery’s rich history as he entertains thousands of guests each year on various tours around Buffalo Trace. One of the Distillery’s most popular and highly sought after tour guides, Freddie is a third generation employee, by his paternal grandfather, Jimmy Johnson Sr., and father, Jimmy Johnson Jr., all working at what is now known as Buffalo Trace Distillery. This past April Freddie carried on another family tradition by rolling away the Distillery’s seventh millionth barrel of bourbon produced since Prohibition, an honor his father started with the first millionth barrel produced, and continued until the sixth millionth barrel in 2008.
The Bourbon Hall of Fame honors remarkable achievements that continue to drive the bourbon industry’s new Golden Age. Recipients have world-class leadership, vision, dedication and integrity that has forever transformed this country’s signature spirit. These qualifications come naturally to Freddie.
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association created the Hall of Fame in 2001, in conjunction with the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, to recognize individuals and organizations that have made a significant and transformational impact on Bourbon’s stature, growth and awareness.
Being inducted to the Bourbon Hall of Fame is the highest honor given by Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry.
“The Hall of Fame is a great honor, and only fitting for it to be bestowed on Freddie, said Matt Higgins, visitor center manager. “We’ve known and our guests have known for years what a special individual Freddie is; it’s so nice he’s being officially recognized for his dedication to the craft.”