What can we expect in 2016 in American Whiskey

Bernie_Tasting1On 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!

Stay Bonded

Bernie Lubbers – The Whiskey Professor


About bernie
-Whiskey Professor for Heaven Hill -2009 and 2012 Icons of Whiskey Award Winner - Whiskey Ambassador of the Year US and Global

5 Comments on What can we expect in 2016 in American Whiskey

  1. Someone from Heaven Hill warning us that some whiskeys will lose their age statements, along with the label change, has me a bit more worried about Elijah Craig 12.

    • Well, that might just happen, but remember…these are tough decisions. So they can keep the age statement on Elijah Craig, and then it might be hard to find since it would be allocated and the price goes up, or they can take it off, use a mingle of ages to try and keep the flavor profile as close as they can, and then keep it in good supply and the price down. These are the challenges all distilleries are facing in the surge of demand for these brands.

  2. Kraig Rogers // January 14, 2016 at 9:42 pm // Reply

    I appreciated your comment about rye whiskey. Avoided it for years until I tried it. Now several brands our on my top 10 whiskey list.
    Also want to put in a plug for the small cortisan distillers, such as Stillwrights in Fairborn Ohio. They produce an awesome small batch (currently #3 soon to be released #4) wheated bourbon that you won’t soon forget. Very small operation but big on quality and hospitality-they love showing you and letting you sample their products.

  3. a while back i discovered bourbon again after many years of thinking i liked single malt scotch. Elijah Craig was my first find, then Makers and the most solid find Larceny. You might notice all wheated, then i discovered Buffalo trace and still believe in my opinion the best bourbon but Basil Haydens not so much aren’t the 2 about the same thing

    • That’s awesome. A lot of people that enjoy Single Malts seem to gravitate toward the wheated bourbons. Of the ones you mentioned, Makers and larceny are wheated bourbons. You might give Bernheim Wheated Whiskey a try then. Elijah Craig is a rye bourbon, and the extra age gives it a unique flavour. Basil Haydens is a high rye recipe, and BT is also a bourbon rye.


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