‘Whiskey Apocalypse’ Threatens Blogger’s Favorite Coping Mechanism

 

shutterstock_173900870The prophecies were true: a “whiskey apocalypse” threatens to ravage the lives of brown beverage producers and enthusiasts alike. Hootch experts explain that the public is downing bottles of premium whiskey faster than the barrel-aged libations can be produced.

“Despite the increase in distillation over the past few years,” says the Buffalo Trace Distillery, “bourbon demand still outpaces supply.” That goes for fine scotch and other top-shelf potables as well, all of which became trendy overnight. “Ten years ago everybody drank vodka, and Scotch was something you kept around for when your dad visited. Now, whiskey of all kinds has become a fetish object of the young, urban, and image-conscious.”

The Four Horsemen of the Whiskey Apocalypse are sporting Selvedge denim, fancy beards and ironic fedorae:

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.

Making matters worse, the American oak used to make bourbon barrels and impart its unique flavor is getting hard to find due to surging popularity and poor weather for logging.

“There is definitely a shortage of barrels on the marketplace,” said Paul Hletko, founder of Few Spirits in Evanston, Illinois. “I have friends that have had to spend US$100,000 on new stainless steel tanks to put their new make spirit into while they wait for new barrels. People have been talking about it for a few months, but the full pain is just starting to be felt.”

Which chapter of the Book of Revelation are we on now?

Regardless, I’m stocking up on booze, canned goods and ammo so I can survive this dystopian hellscape. (Since my fallback drink is gin, I better grab some olives while I’m at it.)

There are 32 comments.

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  1. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: “There is definitely a shortage of barrels on the marketplace,” said Paul Hletko…

     So? Simply re-use your barrels like Scotch producers do.

    Oh, right, that’s against the law, for some reason.

    • #1
    • May 28, 2014, at 2:17 PM PDT
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  2. C. U. Douglas Thatcher

    On the other hand, if whiskey is trending, that means this glut of demand is temporary. Eventually those youngsters will turn to some other sort of booze.

    • #2
    • May 28, 2014, at 2:24 PM PDT
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  3. Doctor Bass Monkey Inactive

    Whiskey Apocalypse? My reign of terror has begun!

    • #3
    • May 28, 2014, at 2:30 PM PDT
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  4. Brian Watt Member

    A whiskey apocalypse? Time to consult Oracle.
    Oracle

    • #4
    • May 28, 2014, at 2:45 PM PDT
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  5. Albert Nonymoose Inactive

    While a shortage of good whisky will be unpleasant, the silver lining is that perhaps finally folks are realizing that vodka is the training wheels of spirits.

    • #5
    • May 28, 2014, at 2:46 PM PDT
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  6. C. U. Douglas Thatcher

    Archie Campbell:

    While a shortage of good whisky will be unpleasant, the silver lining is that perhaps finally folks are realizing that vodka is the training wheels of spirits.

    Now now. While whiskey has plenty more drinking songs, vodka is more conducive to heavy metal:

     

    • #6
    • May 28, 2014, at 2:53 PM PDT
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  7. Michael Brehm Member

    Hold on everyone, I don’t smell a problem here, only an opportunity. To be truly “unique” and “authentic” hipsters shouldn’t be drinking top shelf booze like a bunch of suburbanites, they should be drinking “Ricochet Bootlegger’s Reserve” the best, worst ten-week-old, bathtub-aged rotgut we can manage to bring to market. A truly inferior liquor with a premium price tag. We’ll rake it in, hand over fist. Whaddaya’ll say?

    • #7
    • May 28, 2014, at 3:21 PM PDT
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  8. Brian Watt Member

    Michael Brehm:

    Hold on everyone, I don’t smell a problem here, only an opportunity. To be truly “unique” and “authentic” hipsters shouldn’t be drinking top shelf booze like a bunch of suburbanites, they should be drinking “Ricochet Bootlegger’s Reserve” the best, worst ten-week-old, bathtub-aged rotgut we can manage to bring to market. A truly inferior liquor with a premium price tag. We’ll rake it in, hand over fist. Whaddaya’ll say?

    Well, I had been developing my own line of fine spirits.
    WattMoonshine2

    • #8
    • May 28, 2014, at 3:40 PM PDT
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  9. Palaeologus Inactive

    Ummm….raise your prices top shelf whiskey purveyors.

    There, I fixed the Whiskey Apocalypse.

    I mean really… a 20% uptick? This is a problem? A decade is a crazy-long lead time, but still.

    • #9
    • May 28, 2014, at 4:04 PM PDT
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  10. Carey J. Inactive

    Misthiocracy:

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: “There is definitely a shortage of barrels on the marketplace,” said Paul Hletko…

    So? Simply re-use your barrels like Scotch producers do.

    Oh, right, that’s against the law, for some reason.

     It’s against the law for bourbon, but as long as Canadian whisky is 80 proof, more or less brown, and doesn’t have any flavor, it’s all good.

    • #10
    • May 28, 2014, at 4:24 PM PDT
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  11. doc molloy Inactive

    Back to the bad old days of Thunder Road perhaps..

    • #11
    • May 28, 2014, at 6:50 PM PDT
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  12. Zafar Member

    Whiskeypocalypse. Good name for a bar, I reckon.

    • #12
    • May 28, 2014, at 8:19 PM PDT
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  13. Troy Senik Contributor

    In a lesson about the law of unintended consequences, Jon Gabriel has just made me rethink my position on euthanasia.

    • #13
    • May 28, 2014, at 10:33 PM PDT
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  14. Troy Senik Contributor

    Archie Campbell:

    While a shortage of good whisky will be unpleasant, the silver lining is that perhaps finally folks are realizing that vodka is the training wheels of spirits.

     “Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets.” — Ron Swanson, my spirit animal

    • #14
    • May 28, 2014, at 10:34 PM PDT
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  15. Guruforhire Member

    Aged rum is where its at.

    Plus no bar has it, so you can do your best snobbish “Pfft” and your well practiced eye roll.

    • #15
    • May 29, 2014, at 5:19 AM PDT
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  16. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    Archie Campbell:

    While a shortage of good whisky will be unpleasant, the silver lining is that perhaps finally folks are realizing that vodka is the training wheels of spirits.

    ”Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets.” — Ron Swanson, my spirit animal

    Moonshine is a clear alcohol, no?

    • #16
    • May 29, 2014, at 8:36 AM PDT
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  17. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Carey J.:

    Misthiocracy:

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: “There is definitely a shortage of barrels on the marketplace,” said Paul Hletko…

    So? Simply re-use your barrels like Scotch producers do.

    Oh, right, that’s against the law, for some reason.

    It’s against the law for bourbon, but as long as Canadian whisky is 80 proof, more or less brown, and doesn’t have any flavor, it’s all good.

    If it’s good enough for Don Draper …

    • #17
    • May 29, 2014, at 8:36 AM PDT
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  18. Seawriter Member

    Seems to me the problem is limited to only one kind of whiskey – American-made corn whiskeys. So what’s the problem? Just expand your whiskey horizons. There are wide varieties of Scotch whiskey, Irish whiskey (a personal favorite of mine) and as Misthiocracy points out Canadian whisky. If you want good ol’ United States product, there is rye whiskey.

    Experiment. Broaden your experience.

    By the way, how many Ricochetti realize that before Prohibition the state that distilled the greatest amount of whiskey in the United States was Illinois?

    Seawriter

    • #18
    • May 29, 2014, at 9:10 AM PDT
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  19. C. U. Douglas Thatcher

    Seawriter:

    Seems to me the problem is limited to only one kind of whiskey – American-made corn whiskeys. So what’s the problem? Just expand your whiskey horizons. There are wide varieties of Scotch whiskey, Irish whiskey (a personal favorite of mine) and as Misthiocracy points out Canadian whisky. If you want good ol’ United States product, there is rye whiskey.

    Experiment. Broaden your experience.

    By the way, how many Ricochetti realize that before Prohibition the state that distilled the greatest amount of whiskey in the United States was Illinois?

    Seawriter

    I’m a great lover of Scotch whiskey, so this “crisis” is less worrisome to me than for the Bourbon lovers out there. On the bright side, for our young millennial and Bourbon-loving friends we now have an open door to discuss free markets and the effect of government regulation on a product. I’ll do that while I smugly drink a nice, peaty Scotch.

    • #19
    • May 29, 2014, at 9:26 AM PDT
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  20. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    C. U. Douglas: I’m a great lover of Scotch whiskey, so this “crisis” is less worrisome to me than for the Bourbon lovers out there.

     Scotch and Irish Whiskey are also being threatened by this plague. It’s truly horrifying.

    • #20
    • May 29, 2014, at 9:59 AM PDT
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  21. C. U. Douglas Thatcher

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    C. U. Douglas: I’m a great lover of Scotch whiskey, so this “crisis” is less worrisome to me than for the Bourbon lovers out there.

    Scotch and Irish Whiskey are also being threatened by this plague. It’s truly horrifying.

    Hmm, I suppose aging is the factor here. Scotch and Irish whiskeys might not suffer the bourbon barrel issue, but it’s hard to project demand 10-20 years down the line when your batches are ready. They could be stuck with a glut of liquid once the trend dies, like housing developers were stuck with empty, unsold houses when the demand for new homes died while building plans continued for a couple years.

    Still, I won’t be scared until a USA Today article or a 20/20 report tells me how this will horribly change everything.

    • #21
    • May 29, 2014, at 10:04 AM PDT
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  22. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    C. U. Douglas: Still, I won’t be scared until a USA Today article or a 20/20 report tells me how this will horribly change everything.

    I really enjoy Scotch, but the Arizona climate isn’t conducive to enjoying it fully. There is nothing better than a peaty single malt on a cold, wet, windy evening. That leaves about four nights a year of Phoenix drinking weather. Bourbon is my go-to from mid-fall to mid-spring, but I have already shifted to warm-weather favorites like gin & tonics.

    • #22
    • May 29, 2014, at 10:11 AM PDT
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  23. Jerry the Bastage Inactive

    Prices will rise, demand will slack off, prices will drop. Then, I’ll corner the market.

    • #23
    • May 29, 2014, at 10:19 AM PDT
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  24. Doctor Bass Monkey Inactive

    monkgiraffe

    This is the first sign of the Whiskey Apocalypse.

    • #24
    • May 29, 2014, at 10:26 AM PDT
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  25. Koblog Inactive

    Which chapter of the Book of Revelation are we on now?

    Congrats, Jon, on proper usage. It’s not Revelations.

    • #25
    • May 29, 2014, at 2:29 PM PDT
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  26. Albert Nonymoose Inactive

    C. U. Douglas:

    Archie Campbell:

    While a shortage of good whisky will be unpleasant, the silver lining is that perhaps finally folks are realizing that vodka is the training wheels of spirits.

    Now now. While whiskey has plenty more drinking songs, vodka is more conducive to heavy metal:

    [Snip video link]

    But doesn’t that speak to my point? Metalheads drink vodka for the same reason everyone else who doesn’t otherwise like booze does: it messes them up with the minimum of “boozy” taste. AFAICT, the ultimate goal among vodka producers is to smooth the product out until it has essentially no taste.

    At least Method Man appreciates something about vodka other than its intoxicating effects:

    “I’ve learned/ that when you drink Absolut straight/it burns/enough to give my chest hair a perm.”

    Or maybe he’s complaining, but I’d imagine that he likes this effect as a counterpoint to all the weed.

    • #26
    • May 29, 2014, at 2:55 PM PDT
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  27. Albert Nonymoose Inactive

    Misthiocracy:

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    Archie Campbell:

    While a shortage of good whisky will be unpleasant, the silver lining is that perhaps finally folks are realizing that vodka is the training wheels of spirits.

    ”Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets.” — Ron Swanson, my spirit animal

    Moonshine is a clear alcohol, no?

    My former boss, who is from Kentucky, used to have moonshine at his poker nights. It was made by a friend of his, primarily for his Grandma, and so one batch was made by soaking grapes in it for a few months. It smelled exactly like grape Kool-Aid, but didn’t really taste like anything. But with ‘shine, it’s not the drinking it that’s pleasurable to me, but rather that warmth that spreads out from your belly just after drinking it. Nothing else gives that sensation.

     Also, I’m a Ron Swanson fan, but I do like gin.

    On the bourbon tip, as long as the price of Bulleit doesn’t skyrocket, I’ll be OK. I have some stuff in reserve, though no Pappy 20, unfortunately. On the rye side, I think WhistlePig should soon have their own rye ready for sale (up until now they’ve been selling the rye of the distiller they bought. Or at least that’s my understanding of things, so please correct me if you’ve heard differently.)

     On the affordable scotch side, I really like the Glenrothes Select Reserve. It’s a blend, but only from their own barrels, so it’s different from other blended scotches, which are blended with scotches from other distillers. It’s pretty good if you like Speysides.

    • #27
    • May 29, 2014, at 3:16 PM PDT
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  28. Koblog Inactive

    Ya know, Ricochet is about “conversation,” right?

    Yet it’s impossible to reply to someone’s comment directly underneath. It’s simply too much trouble to get the quote…and then it looks strange on the page. Then the whole thing appears way down at the end of the comments string. Simply not even close to a real conversation. This is worse than overlapping texts.

    It’s more fun over at Instapundit and PJ Media in general, I’m sad to say.

    • #28
    • May 29, 2014, at 5:52 PM PDT
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  29. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Koblog:

    Ya know, Ricochet is about “conversation,” right?

    Yet it’s impossible to reply to someone’s comment directly underneath. It’s simply too much trouble to get the quote…and then it looks strange on the page. Then the whole thing appears way down at the end of the comments string. Simply not even close to a real conversation. This is worse than overlapping texts.

    It’s more fun over at Instapundit and PJ Media in general, I’m sad to say.

    Sounds like you would prefer … nesting.

    • #29
    • May 29, 2014, at 6:34 PM PDT
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  30. James Of England Moderator

    Misthiocracy:

    Koblog:

    Ya know, Ricochet is about “conversation,” right?

    Yet it’s impossible to reply to someone’s comment directly underneath. It’s simply too much trouble to get the quote…and then it looks strange on the page. Then the whole thing appears way down at the end of the comments string. Simply not even close to a real conversation. This is worse than overlapping texts.

    It’s more fun over at Instapundit and PJ Media in general, I’m sad to say.

    Sounds like you would prefer … nesting.

     If you’re new to the site and didn’t hear that in the proper tone, imagine the hiss of a vampire in classic horror movies as they are exposed to a dramatically flourished cross, or sunlight falls near them from a curtain pulled down across the room. 

    • #30
    • May 30, 2014, at 2:55 AM PDT
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