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Wednesday
Aug012012

How Will the Midwest Drought Affect Bourbon?

If you haven't been following the current disaster going on in the midwestern United States, then perhaps you should take a look at what we can expect when prices on grain start going through the roof.  Corn, in general, is taking a serious beating right now with analysists wondering how the shortage is going to affect food prices.  I was listening to NPR on the way to work the other day and the speaker was talking about how we should divert corn from projects like ethanol energy production, putting those supplies back into actual consumption to help stabilize the market.  What I didn't hear anyone talk about, however, was the American whiskey market and what we can expect when there's not enough corn for distillation.

We're in a very interesting dilemma right now.  Currently, we're experiencing a shortage of aged Bourbon stocks, so you would expect distilleries to up their production as a result.  However, how can they increase production to supply demand if there isn't any corn available?  If prices on corn start skyrocketing should we expect the price of whiskey to follow?  I've been corresponding with Buffalo Trace Distillery to see if I could get their take on it and Mark Brown, CEO and President, had this to say:

"High corn and grain prices in general, depending on how individual distillers account for the corn used in the making of their respective whiskeys will inevitably push prices higher, not by an exorbitant amount but consumers should definitely expect to see some price increases coming through."

It's definitely a subject of concern in Kentucky right now.  I'll be checking in with Four Roses and a few other producers very soon to get their take on it as well. 

-David Driscoll