Shortages, Price Increases

I've been having this conversation with our customers for some time, but for those of you who don't come into the store here's the issue: the planet's rediscovery of brown booze is causing some serious shortages.  How many American whiskies are we down right now? Rittenhouse Rye, Sazerac, Wild Turkey Rye, Elijah Craig 18, Black Maple Hill, Vintage 17, and the list goes on and on.  Cognac and single malt producers are also feeling the heat, running short on big name expressions that customers have drunk freely for years.  I've gone on about this issue in previous posts, so I'll spare you all the back story - just get ready for more shortages and more price increases as a result of the current drought.

When an older whisk(e)y sells out (i.e. Old Pulteney 21) do we really expect the producers to bring it back for the same price?  Wishfully thinking, we would say yes.  However, with demand for the "whisky of the year" as high as it is, why take $100, or even $120 a bottle when they know people will happily pay $160? I'd expect a substantial price increase the next time we see this whisky again.  To make matters worse, I just found out this week that Yamazaki is now tightening its belt and will immediately be allocating its whiskies to top accounts.  That means we'll likely get about one case of 12 year each month, while the 18 year old looks to be completely wiped out for the foreseeable future.  The question again here is: do they raise the price in response to the shortage?

Why do I expect InverHouse to raise the price on Old Pulteney 21?  Because I just got word that the 17 year old will be going from $85 to over $100 per bottle early next month.  To me, the 17 year old is the better whisky, but it has nowhere near the demand of the 21.  If they think they can get $100+ for the 17, due to the new-found success of the 21, then there's no telling how much they think the 21 is actually worth in today's market.  If you're a fan of these malts, now would be a good time to grab what's left before the price goes up any higher.  I just cleaned out California, so we'll be able to sustain the old price on OP17 once the delivery comes next week.  Yamazaki 18 fans, however, need to snatch up what's left immediately.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll