Hats off to the folk at Buffalo Trace for seeing an opportunity where others have seen a problem. A statement yesterday (22 May) from the Bourbon producer, which is owned by US firm The Sazerac Co, warned that stocks are running low at the distillery in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

“Despite the increase in distillation over the past few years,” the unit said, “demand for Bourbon is outpacing supply.”

QUICK! To the liquor store, before they whack up their prices or water it down and ruin it!

Actually, reading on, it seems we can all calm down. 

“This announcement is not meant as some sort of scare tactic to get people hoarding Bourbon,” said Kris Comstock, Bourbon marketing director at Sazerac. “We always want to be upfront with our fans. We won’t take drastic measures to mitigate the shortages, such as raising prices excessively, lowering the proof or reducing the age of our whiskies.”

Phew. So, no crazy prices or product adulteration? Great.

“There simply may be times when some of our brands are missing from store shelves,” Cornstock continues, before going on to assure us that “any Bourbon shortages from Buffalo Trace will be temporary, as new barrels are coming of age and are being bottled daily at the distillery, and will soon find their way to the liquor store shelves and bars.”

Hang on - should I panic or not? I’m not sure any more.

The last sentence of the statement doesn’t help to allay fears: “Buffalo Trace estimates the Bourbon shortage could start at any time and may last a few years, based on current sales trends.”

So, it’s all as clear as mud, then. At least, whatever happens, we’re clear on one thing: Buffalo Trace will not do what Beam Inc did with Maker's Mark earlier this year.

Where that leaves me as a Bourbon consumer, however, is anybody’s guess.

Expert analysis

Whiskies: Growth Opportunities in All Markets

Whiskies: Growth Opportunities in All Markets

The whiskies category is taking slow but stable steps up, resilient to negative economic conditions, helped by premiumisation trends and widening demographics. The premium appeal of the category on we...read more