My friend SKU took a poll this week among whisky enthusiasts, asking whether they would rather keep whiskey pricing the same, but drink a younger and possibly lesser product, or face price increases and shortages, but keep the whiskey the same. The majority of responses seemed to prefer the latter. I'm glad that's what consumers would rather have because that's exactly what they're going to get (and you still might get the lesser quality thing along with it!). There have been another series of price hikes recently and there are more on the way. Why haven't you noticed them, possibly? Because as a retailer you absolutely do not want to be the first one to raise your prices, so we generally eat the difference to keep stability. You want to buy in against the increase so that you can maintain your costs for as long as possible. For example, if your William Grant rep tells you that Balvenie is taking an increase in price, you might want to go deep on the Balvenie 12 Doublewood. That's a competitively-priced whisky with wide availability.
So, being relatively intelligent whisky buyers, David OG and I have done our best to buy in and buttress against these increases. However, as the old Led Zeppelin song goes, "cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good, when the levee breaks, mama, you got to move." Here's a list of a few whiskies that have recently taken price increases or have increases planned for March 1st (at least for CA distribution). Some might only go up a few bucks, others might be in the neighborhood of $7 to $10 a bottle.
Ardbeg - all expressions
Aberlour - all expressions
Balvenie - all expressions
Bruichladdich - all expressions
Diageo malts - all expressions
Glenlivet - all expressions
Glenfiddich - all expressions
Highland Park - all expressions
Macallan - all expressions
Laphroaig - all expressions
Yamazaki - all expressions
So far Kentucky is remaining relatively stable. We haven't seen anything more than a dollar or so a bottle increase from any one producer. There's been very little to complain about with the American whiskey market, in my opinion, especially when compared to some of the huge increases we've seen with Scottish single malt. In any case, there's no sign of slowing down the money train. David OG and I have to go over all of our pricing this weekend to see what we can do to prevent any upward response on our part.