So Many Customers, So Few Bottles
Distilleries, importers, distributors, and retailers: we all have the same problem. We have to decide how to allocate the most desirable of our products. Springbank, for example, has to decide how many cases of each rare release they'll send to Germany, Holland, the U.S., China, and every other market where Springbank is sold. Each importer in each country wants as many cases as possible, obviously. Once the U.S. importer gets its allocation, in this case Pacific Edge, they have to decide how many cases to send to each distributor in each state—who also want as many cases as possible. The distributors in each state then have to decide which bars and restaurants deserve the most bottles. Which accounts have been the biggest supporters? K&L? Marty's Corner Liquor Depot? We then get our allocation, from which we have to make the exact same decision. How best to allocate these bottles? First come, first served? Lottery? Best customers? Who knows what the best system is?
One thing I know for sure is that the "one bottle limit" we have going now doesn't work for shit. When I send out my own notices for things like Supernova or the recent High West "Midwinter Night's Dram", I sit there like a hawk; watching the queue until each bottle has been purchased and deleting the orders of those who go back and purchase again. There are all kinds of tricks people try to get more than their fair share. They use different accounts with different credit cards. Their brothers, wives, and sisters create accounts and order the same product (which is why you'll see orders for John Downing, Brian Downing, and Susan Downing all in a row). One guy this week got around our Blanton's one bottle limit by getting his wife out of the car to come and do her own purchase ("But I hate Bourbon," I heard her say as she walked in). He asked, "I can do this right? Have her buy one?" I told him yes, but that I also tend to remember faces; especially when they come back later and ask for something special. He wasn't quite sure how to take that (and he bought two anyway).
The Pliny the Elder beer situation is also becoming like this—guys creating fake accounts and doing all kinds of tricks to try and increase their two bottle per week lot. We've also started to see secondary market flipping, which is really pissing us off. If you knew what a gigantic fucking pain in the ass it was to allocate bottles and make sure these things got distributed fairly, then you would understand our anger when people pull this kind of shit. We know who they are, so don't worry about them getting in your way here at K&L. I'm just wondering if they know that we know (FYI—you guys won't be winning the Pappy raffle). In any case, I've been talking to a number of distributors and distilleries about this issue lately and they're just as annoyed as we are. It's no fun, let me tell you. Bottle flippers are one of the biggest reasons that whisky prices for rare items have risen for the average consumer.
I know a few producers who have doubled their prices because they were tired of all the B.S. The fever pitch keeps getting hotter.