A Whiskey Shortage is Coming—Stock Up Now

Keep calm and buy bourbon. Read More

By / May 13, 2014

Keep calm and buy bourbon—because it’s going to be a scarce commodity soon, according to Esquire. Apparently we’re buying whiskey faster than suppliers can produce it, which makes sense when you consider the fact that single-malt scotch and bourbon have become stratospherically popular in recent years (thank you, hipsters!), but can take over a decade to produce.

Jason Sheehan of Philadelphia Magazine explains:

See, whiskey—good whiskey—is kind of like the ultimate slow food. It takes years to produce the aged stuff, and even though whiskey distillers are generally pretty good about being able to see into the future and match supply to demand, what none of them saw coming 10 years ago when today’s aged whiskey was first being put to bed was the massive spike in whiskey drinking occurring today. As just one example, the folks at Buffalo Trace note that while bourbon overall is seeing a 5% growth rate (a nice, manageable number with current stock levels), the thirst for premium brands (of which Buffalo Trace is but one) is up something on the order of 20%. Which would’ve been great if, 10 years ago, someone had gone around to all the whiskey producers and told them that they really ought to up their production and storage by 20% to compensate for some mystical time when every hipster worth his mustache and tiny hat would be drinking Redbreast and Pappy like water.

Alas, the explosion of whiskey bars in Brooklyn couldn’t have been foreseen. And in addition to supply and demand issues, there’s a shortage of bourbon barrels in the Unites States thanks to climate change (winters are longer and harsher, which is affecting the growth of American oak trees), so distilleries don’t have the means the keep up with production, even if they have the spirits ready to go.

What does this mean for consumers? Stock up now to ensure your future l’chaims.

Image: Shutterstock