On my travels I’m asked sometimes about the current “bourbon shortage”, and to some it could seem like there is one. But there’s more bourbon out there than we’ve had in the last several decades. There might be a shortage of some of the specific bourbons that you want though; that’s fair. But there are more people out there looking for bourbon now than there ever was in decades too. Just in my area alone there are bourbon societies sprouting up, and that means more and more enthusiasts are looking for those bourbons you and I told them about, but noto to tell anyone else.
So now there’s hundreds of us sworn to secrecy…but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves to want to tell a good friend or family member too (or maybe our boss). Maybe you have someone over to your home bar and see’s us drinking the 6 year 90 proof they say they’ve never seen, or a 10 year Bottled In Bond they’ve never heard of. And what’s that Rye up there I’ve never heard of? All they have to say at my bar is “I’ve always heard rye is harsh and hot so I never tried it.” And I’m pulling down a flight of rye whiskeys to win them over.
So here’s what I think we can expect to see this year in whiskey. There will be more Bourbon, rye, corn, wheat, and other whiskeys in 2016 than there was last year. Extra aged whiskeys (over 6 years) will still be available and more than last year, but there are more people looking for them, so it will feel like there is less of it than before.
You might see some age statements coming off brands. Don’t be upset; taste them and still appreciate them for what they are and the price they are offered. There will be some brands that keep their age statements, and I’d say what you can expect from them is that the price might increase, but not a whole lot. Either way, let’s all agree not to hoard, and purchase what we will drink and share with others, and not sell on the secondary market. Trading for other whiskeys is fine in my book, but just being a profiteer in whiskeys I don’t agree with.
Whiskey is made to be drank, shared, and enjoyed with friends and family. To celebrate with as we have with champagne at occasions. So I see that 2016 is a year that folks start appreciating some of the younger whiskeys that have been out there a while and maybe over looked. I’m NOT saying you should have to settle for younger whiskey. Still go out and seek out, get on lists, swap, share older whiskey all to your hearts content. But really find some four to seven year old whiskeys that really makes you appreciate American Whiskey for what it is.
Referring back to an earlier article of mine, “The Engines That Drive The Bourbon Trains” I think you’ll be surprised that amount of not just good bourbon and whiskeys that are out there, but just how good they really are, from all the distilleries.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is I think there will be more to see and taste from the smaller distilleries. Many of them now have 2 years or more age on their own whiskeys. Most know that to achieve longevity they can’t just source their whiskeys anymore, and some of their own aged expressions are going to be hitting the shelves. I’ve tasted many as I’m honored to be on tasting panels for the American Craft Spirits Association, and I think you’ll find that many of them are really finding their sweet spots.
So here’s to a great upcoming year for American Whiskey. With more whiskey available now than there has been in decades it will truly be a great year indeed!
Bernie Lubbers – The Whiskey Professor