Bourbon's Beggars

The last few months I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of the spirits world. I’m hooked on the magnificent and diverse realm of rum and the weird wide world of brandy. These spirits have a true sense of place and their merits have gone underappreciated for decades. Few things offer a higher dollar to deliciousness ratio or a better combination of history, authenticity, terroir and artisanal quality. Inspite of the incredible inroads these exciting categories have made in the modern zeitgeist; another can still offer an unmatched experience for the serious drinker. Bourbon as a whole was exactly that twenty years, an undervalued overproduced commodity whisky that only a tiny sliver of the drinking classes accepted as highbrow enough to merit serious consideration. It offered its lucky lovers stupendous amounts of pleasure, while the laymen sat back smuggly and said, "$50 for a bottle of bourbon. What are you stupid?" As bourbon has drifted into the mainstream, the already limited amounts of top quality bourbon have become that much more allocated. People who once lived and died by the unique bluegrass booze are often the very people searching these new categories for a way to achieve the same enjoyement.

It’s been frustrating for a lot of people, seeing great products that used to be staples become allocated and unavailable. Watching the primary market prices jump above the illicit secondary market levels. Sitting helplessly while age statements are removed and origins are obfuscated. It’s frustrating on our end when suppliers raise prices, although I have to give credit to Kentucky, they've done an incredible job of keeping prices consistent while demand explodes. Those extra dollars aren't usually going back to the distiller, but instead to your local retailers who rightfully covet special proudcts when they're lucky enough to acquire them. Economics 101 tells us that Kentucky's commitment price parity will inevitably breed scarcity. So for anyone buying booze on the bulk market to bottle, business has gotten pretty tough. We’ve seen the wholesale price of interesting products like the second batch of Kentucky Owl 11 Year Straight Rye, which jumped by nearly 80% for exactly that reason. We've had to raise our price and make less money per bottle than the last batch, but we're still the lowest in the country. In most cases, our price for the new batch is lower than retailers who are selling the first batch which cost them significantly less. Honestly the quality and rarity of this age stated Kentucky rye likely merits the high price from a business stand point, yet there’s still some psychological block that makes me want to apologize to people for the higher price while they continue to buy it.

It’s not at all doom and gloom in Kentucky though. We’re about to prove that over the next couple of months. This category continues to offer absolutely outstanding value and a drinking experience difficult to replicate even in the newly fashionable world of rum or brandy. Whether it’s the five casks of Four Roses arriving soon or the eight barrels of Russell’s Reserve we’ve secured nothing delivers like Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. If you’ve got about $50-60 to spend on a nice bottle of booze, it’s easy to argue that bourbon remains the best choices. The category gives diminishing returns on investment as the prices escalate particularly if you're not careful how you spend your money, but if you know where to look and the timing is right – ain't no better way to spend $50 than this badass little whiskey.

1792 "Full Proof" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #2111 Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) $50

-David Othenin-Girard

David Othenin-Girard