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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bourbon Shortage? Relax, It May All Be Over Soon

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Are you tired of the water shortage? The lime shortage? The Nutella shortage? The bourbon shortage? It’s getting depressing, this litany of delicious things we might no longer be able to have thanks to the crazy world we live in..

Scratch that last one, potentially. The New York Times reported that the incipient whiskey emergency, wherein distillers have been increasingly unable to meet demand, might not be so dire. Remember when Maker’s Mark threatened to dilute itself and people went bananas? That was premature, even when factoring in the requirement that bourbon age for two years in a charred oak barrel. Production in Kentucky, where some 95 percent of all bourbon is made, is surging, and in 2013 the state’s inventory reached 5 million barrels for the first time since 1977. (For the record, there are 4.4 million humans in Kentucky; you do the math.)

The crisis looked grim for awhile, which is a strange reversal of fortune. As Esquire noted, bourbon, whiskey, and scotch used to be so unpopular that “in the 1990s, they were putting 11-year-old juice into Rebel Yell.” Industry giants like Diageo are now plowing millions into Scotland, and to tide us all over in the meantime, artisanal-sounding producers are resorting to the same shady labeling practices the bottled-water industry has long used. That “ultra small-batch bourbon”? It might actually have been bought from a company that specializes in industrial alcohols, so be careful.

It'll probably all even out. The best part for die-hard bourbon lovers would be for tastes to change once again just as this golden-brown tsunami ripples across the liquorscape. Imagine a complete critical reappraisal of vodka and a bursting of this latest bourbon bubble, resulting in cheap, plentiful Boulevardiers and Manhattans. And if you play a really long game, start hoarding as soon as you can for when the cycle comes around again, because bourbon stops aging once it’s bottled.

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Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40

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