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Bourbon boom causes periodic shortages at Buffalo Trace Distillery

Distillery official says shortages will be temporary

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 22, 2013) — Bourbon whiskey consumption has been on a roll, and Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries are struggling to keep up with demand.

This is the case at Buffalo Trace Distillery, producer of brands such as Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace, and Pappy Van Winkle.

Historic Buffalo Trace Distillery is located in Frankfort, Ky.
Historic Buffalo Trace Distillery is located in Frankfort, Ky.

Despite the increase in distillation over the past few years, demand for bourbon is outpacing supply. Bourbon must be matured in new oak barrels and Buffalo Trace ages many of its barrels for eight to ten years, and some even as long as 23 years. That’s a long time to wait for a bottle of bourbon. With the amount of bourbon lost to evaporation each year a barrel is half empty after 10 years. This is the price paid for well-aged whiskey, but not good news for a world thirsty for every drop of bourbon coming out of this 226-year-old distillery.

“We are making more bourbon every day. Our warehouses are filling up with new barrels. Waiting for the bourbon to come of age is the hard part. While we wait, there could be temporary product shortages, even on favorites like Buffalo Trace, and Eagle Rare,” said Kris Comstock, marketing director.

“This announcement is not meant as some sort of scare tactic to get people hoarding bourbon. We always want to be upfront with our fans. We won’t take drastic measures to mitigate the shortages, such as raising prices excessively, lowering the proof or reducing the age of our whiskies,” Comstock added. “We’ve made a commitment to quality that we’re not willing to compromise. What this means is that there simply may be times when some of our brands are missing from store shelves.”

Comstock said any bourbon shortages from Buffalo Trace will be temporary, as new barrels are coming of age and are being bottled daily at the distillery, and will soon find their way to the liquor store shelves and bars.

Over the years, the distillery has taken several steps to try to prevent any shortages, such as increasing distillation, installing additional bottling lines, hiring more people, and managing brands on allocation. Buffalo Trace will hire another person dedicated to watching and balancing bourbon inventory with sales. Because of these efforts, Buffalo Trace Bourbon continues to become more available each year, as well as Weller, Eagle Rare and Blanton’s. It just might not be enough. Buffalo Trace estimates the bourbon shortage could start at any time and may last a few years, based on current sales trends.

Buffalo Trace Distillery is a family-owned distillery based in Frankfort that produces bourbon, rye and vodka. Its distilling tradition dates back to 1787.