History Repeats

I had a conversation with a guy in the store today who said: "I feel like all the whiskies I usually enjoy drinking are going down in quality. They're all losing their age statements, or they're just not as interesting as they once were."

To which I said, "That's the nature of the whiskey business."

He kind of stared at me, a bit confused, until I said: "In the history of this industry, there have been consistent shortages and gluts. The shortages occur when the population rediscovers their love affair with whiskey and rapidly buys what's available. The gluts occur after the market reacts to that newfound popularity, waters down the mature supply, and ultimately lowers the quality in order to meet greater demand. It's inevitable."

"Why don't they just make more?" he asked.

"They are making more. But they have to guess how much more they'll need down the line, and they don't always guess correctly. They're trying to predict demand in 2025 and beyond. History has shown us, however, that strong sales don't last forever."

"If they just made more 20 year old Bourbon, I'd be fine with that," he replied.

"But they can't ever make enough 20 year old Bourbon for everyone without diminishing the quality of the product. That's why people eventually stop drinking whiskey: because sales ultimately take priority over quality. These people are running businesses. The nature of business is always to grow, sell more, and expand."

"So when's the next whiskey glut going to happen?" he finally asked.

"As soon as everyone stops drinking it and moves on to something else," I said.

"When will that happen?"

"As soon as you get tired of diminishing quality."

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll