Freddie Johnson’s family has worked at the Buffalo Trace Distillery for three generations and works as its Chief Tour Guide and V.I.P. Visitor Supervisor. Born in Paris, Kentucky, he spent some of his early childhood with his maternal grandfather who was a coal miner and moonshiner. Freddie cherishes memories of both his father and grandfather working at the plant for five decades.
Freddie and the Johnson family moved to Frankfort, Kentucky when he was five years-old. His father Jimmy Johnson Jr., and his grandfather Jimmy Johnson Sr., worked most of their careers at Buffalo Trace Distillery or what was then known as the George T. Stagg Distillery. Johnson, Sr. worked with and for Colonel Albert Bacon Blanton while his father, Junior worked with and under the supervision of both Orville Schupp and Elmer T. Lee. Freddie enjoyed spending time with Johnson, Sr. outside hunting, fishing, hunting and camping.
Freddie worked for A.T. & T. as a network/operations engineer and was even given a top secret clearance because of a government contract he was working on. He became very successful in the network business that took him to both Atlanta and New York City.
But Freddie set all that aside to when he found out that his father and older brother were sick. He did this to fulfill a promise made to his father, Jimmy, Jr. more than 20 years prior. He gave his word to his father that he would someday come back and work by his side at the distillery during his lifetime. That way they would have had three generations of the Johnson family that worked at Frankfort Distillery.
Freddie took an early retirement from A.T. & T. and moved back to take care of his ailing father and brother. Jimmy, Jr. got him a job as a tour guide at the distillery in 2002. But remember Freddie had been at the distillery his entire childhood way back to when he was five years old. Freddie spins tales of his childhood memories with his father, grandfather, brother and rest of his family in Frankfort. He specifically recalls his fond time with his dad at the distillery and rich history that it possesses as he entertains thousands of visitors each year in many different various tours at the Trace.
In September 2018, Freddie Johnson received the industry’s highest award when he was elected into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame. Freddie becomes only the 8th member of the Buffalo Trace family to join the Hall behind such illustrious names as George T. Stagg, Colonel Albert Blanton, Elmer T. Lee, Orville Schupp and Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle. One of the distillery’s most popular and highly sought after tour guides, Freddie also received the 2015 ROSE (Recognition of Service Excellence) Award and the 2017 Lexington Hospitality Award.