TIME Food & Drink

Bourbon Shortage Has Whiskey Industry Over a Barrel

Buffalo Trace Distillery
Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace, a 228-year-old distillery in Kentucky, has issued a statement that bourbon shortages show no signs of letting up anytime soon. But before long, it will be consumers who pay the price as demand continues to outpace supply

In what will come as no surprise to whiskey enthusiasts, Buffalo Trace issued a statement on Thursday declaring that bourbon shortages show no signs of abating for the foreseeable future. The spirit’s unprecedented popularity has created a growing demand that the current supply is utterly incapable of matching. For the time being, Buffalo Trace — a 228-year-old distillery in Frankfort, K.Y. — will continue to supply all markets monthly allocations of Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare and Blanton’s each moth, as well as continue the annual release of its super-premium whiskeys, including Pappy Van Winkle, every fall.

Though the impact of the shortage may not immediately be felt by the average consumer, trouble is on the horizon. Specific conditions much be met in order for a whiskey to be classified as bourbon, most notably that the spirit must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. According to The Spirits Business, the industry has been experiencing a shortfall in necessary lumber for the last six months. Add to that a growing interest amongst drinkers — both in the U.S. and around the world — in aged bourbon, and a shortage is the only logical outcome.

While there is little danger of bourbon disappearing from store shelves entirely, a shortage could either inspire distillers to age their bourbon for a shorter period of time (thereby losing less of the product to evaporation) or, more likely, raise prices on the bourbon they already produce. Either scenario would prove costly for distillers and consumers alike.

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