Buffalo Trace: ‘No end in sight’ to Bourbon shortage

12th May, 2014 by Amy Hopkins

Buffalo Trace has claimed that its Bourbon shortages “still remain” and there is “no way to predict” when supply will catch up with booming demand.

Sazerac Buffalo Trace distillery expansions

Buffalo Trace has issued a statement claiming there is “no end in sight” to its Bourbon shortages

The distiller issued a statement last week updating the industry and consumers on its Bourbon inventory shortages.

After first admitting to a shortage of stocks last year, Buffalo Trace has undertaken various initiatives to increase supply, but the distiller claims that the entire Bourbon industry is now “feeling the full effects” of an inability to meet demand.

Numerous distillers have since admitted to a shortage of stocks in recent months as the popularity of Bourbon soars globally.

While Mark Brown, CEO of Sazerac, Buffalo Trace’s parent company, said that a continuing high demand for Bourbon meant that the distillery was still around “100,000 barrels short of where it needed to be”, Maker’s Mark controversially said it would lower its abv to stretch supplies – a decision swiftly reversed.

Harlen Wheatley, master distiller at Buffalo Trace, said in the recent statement: “We’re making more Bourbon every day. In fact, we’re distilling more than we have in last 40 years. Still, it’s hard to keep up.”

“Although we have more Bourbon than last year when we first announced the rolling blackouts, we’re still short and there is no way to predict when supply will catch up with demand.”

Fans urged to be patient

In order to help push production, Buffalo Trace has added more bottle lines and hired more staff, including a full-time barrel allocation manager to balance stock inventories with sales volumes.

“We taste, approve and bottle what barrels we have available each month,” said Kris Comstock, Bourbon marketing director at Buffalo Trace.

“There are shortages, because Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, and Blanton’s sell out quickly, but no shortage should last more than one month before reinforcements arrive.”

“We’re asking for continued patience from our fans. The recent surge in demand is quite flattering, but we just need to keep in mind these Bourbons were put into the barrel many years ago.”

Comstock added that other highly allocated whiskeys such as Pappy Van Winkle and the Antique Collection will continue to be released annually every fall.

Angel’s share

The company also said since many of its barrels are aged for eight to 20 years, a significant portion of its liquid is lost due to evaporation.

“The increase in sales, coupled with the aging process and evaporation loss, leads to a shortage with no end in sight,” its statement concluded.

A widespread shortage of American oak has added further problems for Bourbon distillers to negotiate.

A shortfall in the amount of lumber delivered to cooperages over the past six months has heavily impacted the number of new American oak barrels available to distilleries.

The Spirits Business recently reported that Bourbon distillers predict the shortage will be “short lived”, but is expected to last two years.

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