Is the great bourbon shortage really real?
After writing about it last week, we got some rather irate emails from readers, alleging that we were being fed a marketing scam. (There’s some scepticism out there on the internet, as well.) After all, there’s still plenty of bourbon in the liquor stores today!
First off, we reached out to Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace Distillery, which has been the source of most of the “bourbon shortage” hype.
“Yes, I can assure you the bourbon shortage is VERY real, not a ploy at all,” a spokesperson told Business Insider “Our intent was never to get people worked up, or to start hoarding it, we did it out of a very genuine desire to let people know this was on the horizon.”
That said, there aren’t a ton of specifics to be had, as the distillery won’t give out sales numbers. However, the spokesperson did say that growth in the category was around 6.7 %. Citing numbers from the “industry’s bible,” the spokesperson said 17.6 million cases of whiskey were sold in 2013, and that figure “is expected to reach its 20 million case high in the next few years.” The Beverage Information Group did not return requests for confirmation of these numbers.
The whiskies that Buffalo Trace produces range from 4 years of ageing to 23 years.
The shortage, according to the company, is coming from the ageing process: demand is a lot higher than they expected when they decided how many barrels to age 8, 10, 15, or 20 years ago.
The shortage is likely coming in the older vintages, which is why a lot of people don’t “see” it at the liquor store. The more popular, broadly available stuff is younger, and therefore not hugely affected, says Robert Haynes-Peterson, a longtime wine and spirits writer and editor. But nonetheless, he thinks the shortage is real.
“It’s not going to affect your everyday options – the lower level Johnny Walker or Jack Daniels or whatever,” he told Business Insider, “But [it] definitely affected some of the smaller stuff (Blanton’s, Boker’s, Russell’s Reserve, etc) and older stuff (6 year and over for bourbon, 15 year and over for Scotch).”
Do you have more info on the whiskey shortage? Get in touch at [email protected]