Whiskey Shortages Expected Due to Surging Popularity

by The Drink Nation on May 24, 2013 in Liquor
Whiskey Shortages Expected Due to Surging Popularity

Maker’s Mark caused an uproar earlier this year when it announced plans to water down its popular flagship whiskey label. It wasn’t an arbitrary move — the reasoning behind reducing the alcohol content was to increase supply to keep up with the demand in American whiskey’s popularity. Now that the decision has been reversed (thanks to angry and vocal fans), drinkers can expect to find fewer bottles of Maker’s Mark available on shelves around the country.

The company is not alone. A recent press release from Buffalo Trace Distillery warned of shortages in its key brown spirits brands, which include Blanton’s, Pappy Van Winkle and Buffalo Trace. Though the 225-year-old Kentucky distillery has taken steps to avoid shortages — including installing additional bottling lines, hiring more staff and micro-managing allocations — the increased popularity has made it impossible to keep up with demand.

Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey sales by volume rose over 5% in just the past year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. “Super Premium” products in that category of liquor (a group that includes the above spirits) rose 12.4%. That’s a larger surge than the U.S. vodka market — previously king — which grew 4% overall and 10% in super-premium products.

The fact that brown spirits take time is the main issue here, in addition to larger growth spurt. While vodka can be distilled and produced quickly, whiskey needs to sit in barrels for several years — up to 23 years, in a certain Pappy Van Winkle label’s case — before it’s bottled. Plus, during that time the volume decreases significantly, due to evaporation. So although whiskey producers are working hard to keep up, you might want to stock up on your favorites to make it through the next couple of years.

h/t Huffington Post

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