The Next BIG Spirits Boom

The noted leadership guru, Stephen Covey, once wrote you should always “begin with the end in mine.” With that said, we don’t have the answer as to what the next big spirits boom will be. However, it is a question that we’ve been able to answer distillers, marketers, PR people, etc. in the whiskey industry and the comments far exceed the 280 characters for which Twitter allows us to add context. So, here we go…

Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend the breakfast release party for Heaven Hill’s Parker’s Heritage orange curaçao-finished bourbon. As luck would have it, Denny Potter (at the time) master distiller of Heaven Hill sat two seats away from me and we were able to chat throughout breakfast. At one point as the table conversation lagged, I asked Denny this billion dollar question. Denny immediately answered, “gin.” When I asked him to expand on this curious answer. I was expecting rum, or tequila, or mescal, anything but gin. After all, gin is the choice of college kids looking to elevate their drink order in a gin and tonic, not the sippable spirit that whiskey or rum or tequila is. Denny was adamant the answer was gin. He pointed to the increasing interest in gin in parts of Europe, most notably in the UK. He pointed to many distillers being able to produce high quality gins quickly and infuse interesting and novel flavor profiles that extend far beyond the basic juniper that one associates with most shelf bottles of gin. Locally, New Riff Distillery in Covington, KY is doing some great things with their Kentucky Wild Gin. I own two bottles of their different gin expressions and love that the grains were sourced locally and the citrus notes are far different that the standard Tanqueray, Beefeater, etc. gins obtainable from the local liquor store. Our fellow founder of BourbonScript introduced me to Nikka gin about a year ago and that one too has earned a permanent spot in my bar with beautiful and prominent citrus notes. Both are sippable neat the mark, to me, of a quality spirit. However, when Denny was asked if Heaven Hill was planning a top shelf gin to take advantage of this coming boom, he simply answered, “no.” He pointed out that Heaven Hill brands has bottom shelf gins but not plans to enter into the craft space. However, as others have widely noted, gin and vodka drive profits of new distilleries as these clear spirits can be produced and brought to market quickly. No advance planning or extended aging is required.

As one surveys the spirits landscape, it has become apparent that distillers who produce tequila, mescal and rum have also elevated their products to the level of premium products who can compete in this landscape. I’m enamored with Four Square’s bourbon-barrel finished rums (including 2004, 2005, Criterion, etc.). The more I explore the world of rum, I find that many of these are not the Bacardi mixer quality rums that college students go through by the liter mixed with Coke but rather top notch products that stand on their own with increasingly complex tasting notes that sip like the best allocated bourbons. Frequently, I find myself standing in front of my home bar and choosing a neat pour of rum because of the subtle sweetness, the tamer and more pedestrian proofs and the molasses flavors that present so readily! Rum is truly a wonderful counterpoint for the bourbon lover!

Our fellow founder of BourbonScript resides in Arizona and happens to have a tremendous amount of expertise in agave spirits. In addition to introducing me to Nikka gin, he also turned me on to mescal. I’m always shocked when I order a mescal drink in a bar and I’m asked, “are you sure you want that?” or “do you like mescal” as if I’ve ordered a taboo drink that should only be ordered by the bravest of drinkers. When I share that I occasionally crave the dark smokiness of a mescal or the saltiness of pechuga or top shelf tequila not sullied in a margarita, bartenders are frequently surprised that I know my agave spirits. Tequila bars have been around for decades and tequila has not yet achieved the stardom of bourbon and world whiskies. What is holding them back? Who knows!

Industry insiders we have interviewed over the past 2-3 years believe the whiskey boom will end though they struggle to predict when. A distiller interviewed in a MUCH earlier blog entry indicated that their distillery was ramping up production anticipating at least 10-20 years worth of increased interest. Others have told us the boom may end within the next 5 years as production begins to catch up with demand for some allocated products as their planning 5-10 years ago begins to pay off with significant supplies of 10-20 year bourbons aging in their warehouses. We’re often reminded in Kentucky that there are more barrels of bourbon aging here than residents of the state. How big a deal will Weller 12 be once Buffalo Trace has thousands of barrels of 12 year bourbon in their warehouses? While the demand for the top allocated products the distilleries hype the most probably will not subside as they selectively control for supply, many of the second tier or even tier 1A brands will catch up…this per many top distillers! As supply equals or tops demand, the proverbial teeter-totter will shift and prices will likely decrease leading ultimately to reductions in production and hype-followers chasing the next big thing.

What we know (and believe) is that the whiskey boom is still here to stay for the time being. Drink up! Enjoy! Slainte!

The Open Bottle Effect

We’ve all heard of or experienced the phenomenon of bottles changing their flavor complexion over time once opened. If you search the whiskey literature, industry experts will advise you that once a bottle is less than half full (some say a quarter full), you should drink it or possibly inject an innate gas like nitrogen to prevent the bourbon from oxidizing and ultimately affecting the flavor profile.

I’m a bourbon collector (but mostly drinker). I currently have ~80 bottles open in my home bar and tend to open more before I finish existing ones. Many distilleries have recently announced sherry-cask finished bourbons (Angel’s Envy, Town Branch, etc.). Thinking about those releases and hypothesizing the line up I’d like to have in a blind side-by-side tasting, I was looking through my open bottles of finished bourbons. I poured a solid 2 ounce pour of the Basil Hayden Dark Rye from a bottle that was less than half full and that I haven’t sampled in at least a couple months. From fresh bottles, I detect sweet notes of the port that is added (not finished) to the bourbon as well as a delectable nuttiness that makes me want to pair this bourbon with chocolate. To me, this is not a daily drinker but a ‘special’ occasion sipper for when I want something sweeter and less ‘bourbon-ish.’ However, tonight, I detect the same type of souring that one experiences with a bottle of red wine that has oxidized. The profile has noticeably changed and altered the taste for the worse. I’ve never experienced this phenomenon with a bourbon before and attribute it to the port that is directly blended with the Basil Hayden bourbon. As a scientist, I question the stability of a wine being added to a distilled spirit and recognize that oxidation has taken its effect on the port presumably before affecting the bourbon component of the blend. It’s not yet a ‘drain pour’ but it’s close. For now, I’ll finish this dram but won’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did the first pour from a fresh bottle.


Bourbon Weekly is satire? Lessons Learned…

One evening this week, I found myself in a hotel room scrolling through Twitter reading the latest ‘news’ in the whiskey world when I came upon a post from a Twitter follower from a site called Bourbon Weekly. While the title of the article looked ‘odd,’ the content suggesting that MGP, everyone’s favorite mass producer of whiskies bought and rebranded by craft distilleries and large conglomerates alike was beginning to run low on stock was eerily believable. I live in northern KY only a matter of miles from the nearest distilleries and a mere 15-20 minute drive from the behemoth former Seagram’s distillery in Lawrenceburg that MGP calls home. While they don’t conduct public tours, a Twitter presence with 3000+ followers has afforded us some interesting opportunities not available to the general public. One of those within the past 12 months was the rare chance to peak behind the MGP curtain at the workings of their massive whiskey factory. My tour guide for the day was one of many distillers (they seem to employ master distillers, asssistant distillers and a variety of other folks with distiller in their title). At one point in the afternoon, the topic of conversation shifted not toward production…they seem to have that down to a fine art but rather to their existing supply. My fearless guide, while not revealing any propriety information or trade secrets, shared that MGP has millions of barrels of whiskey aging in their warehouses. He offered that these range in age from day 0 of production to whiskies in the 10-20 year range and hinted that there may be some ‘old’ choice barrels aging well into their senior years in places. I’m sure it comes as little surprise to our followers that if you are a new distillery, recently opened and beginning to produce your own whiskey, that in the meantime, you may work to become profitable by selling a label whose bottle contains ‘juice’ from a mass producer like MGP. Also, it’s not difficult to believe that you likely don’t want 2 year bourbon, you want something aged longer. My guide’s commentary on the whiskey boom (beyond his seeming love for the new and increasing demand for MGP product or what he referred to as job security) also made reference to the bourbon boom having taken its toll on MGP’s supply of aged bourbons.

Fast forward to my discovery of the Bourbon Weekly article. Besides some interesting use of grammar to imply MGP was running low on bourbon, the article seemed believable as the details dovetailed so nicely with a personal account of the bourbon boom’s impact on MGP that my intrepid tour guide had shared. In my fatigued stupor, I retweeted the link to an interesting and awkward response from our followers. “The satire is evident” they wrote. Others suggested that “we thought you were playing into the satire.” I guess the key to good satirical writing is some basis in fact or, at a minimum, some presumption that people may be true. I admit, they got me!

I spent some time today during my travels reading past posts from Bourbon Weekly and enjoyed several of their posts that, while humorous, do reflect the reality of the bourbon craze these days. But, the question remains, is MGP running out of bourbon? The truth is likely somewhere in between fact and fiction. Given their rampant production, there is no question that MGP is barreling tons (literally tons) of bourbon from a variety of mash bills but bourbon doesn’t age over night. I’m sure they have staff dedicated solely to knowing how many barrels are aging where and for how long at any given moment in time…it’s a fine science of balancing the demand for product on the available supply. If you sell 10,000 barrels of 10 year aged bourbon, you can’t replace that over night. We have to wonder if we really will see a slowing of new distilleries acquiring MGP bourbon for bottling over the next few years or a shift toward very young product. Only MGP knows for sure but Bourbon Weekly, you win this round! I believed it because the MGP staff told me they were starting to run out of aged bourbon! Next time, I’ll be a better judge of source material. After all, we at BourbonScript have a reputation to protect as conveyors of accurate information…and the occasional rumor! 😉

Passing through Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport

I’m Delta loyal. There, I said it! For those of us that are Delta loyal, it means connections through Atlanta from time to time…sometimes more depending on your georgraphy. This evening, I rolled the dice on trying to get on an earlier flight home and missed out. With 7 hours to kill, I went exploring for restaurants I haven’t tried here in the airport. I discovered Ecco on the F Concourse. This is an airport satellite of their Atlanta-area restaurants with an gourmet and award-winning menu of entrees, small plates and appetizers. The whiskey list is not the most impressive but with a decent selection, it was not difficult to find and order a High West Double Rye from their menu for a modest $12 charge. My quest for top shelf bourbon will continue but if you’re looking for a gourmet meal, One Flew South on the E Concourse and Ecco (which may be a new favorite) are both great choices. Cheers and safe travels!

Happy 2019

As a new year begins (3 weeks late in this case for BourbonScript), we look forward to a new year by rebooting our blog as an extension of our Twitter and Instagram presence. As we’ve written in the past, the 3 of us behind BourbonScript are all frequent travelers which allow for unique opportunities to drink whisky, craft beer, rum, tequilla, mezcal, etc. in interesting places; to enjoy some of the best bars in the country and their own legendary craft cocktails; great meals at some of the best restaurants in the world and think about spirits pairings, etc. It helps that one of our founders lives in Kentucky a mere 2 miles from the nearest distillery and another founder in Arizona in a region where tequila and mezcal are plentiful. Oh, the options and opportunities!

As I write this entry, I’m completing a whirlwind trip across the country with work meetings in Boston and Atlanta. Sadly, this has meant largely consuming bourbon or, in tonight’s case, rum on airplanes, airline lounges or hotels. The variability of whiskey selections in hotel bars is significant. While I was spending my nights in Boston in a nice hotel, the bar, sadly, stocked only Jack Daniels and some low to middle tier scotch whiskies. As most of you who fly may know, Delta stocks Woodford Reserve on planes but only Jack as their ‘free spirit’ in their Sky Clubs. As I find myself in an Atlanta Hartsfield Sky Club at the moment, I’m sipping on Zacapa 23 rum as a better option to the bottom shelf whiskey. We like rum! Rum has gotten a bad reputation as a spirit best enjoyed by college students, in fruity Tiki drinks or mixed with Coke. Higher quality rums sip like whiskies with a similar smooth finish. In fact, Four Square finishes several of their most popular rum expressions in previously filled bourbon barrels giving these rums a subtle bourbon-esque sweetness that even the most hardened whiskey lover would likely enjoy.

Cheers and here is to a very successful and productive 2019 for all!

Alcohol Consumption and Cancer Risk – What You Need to Know…

We are board-certified in oncology and may as well be board-certified in whiskey, so we are uniquely positioned to give some perspective on this topic in light of guidelines published today linking alcohol and cancer (LoConte NK, et al. J Clin Oncol 2017). (1) data linking alcohol consumption and cancer is mostly retrospective epidemiological. This means establishing cause-effect is rife with error. (2) alcohol is commonly consumed along with other known risk factors (e.g.: tobacco), marring effect of alcohol vs other contributor(s). (3) definition of alcohol use varies widely in U.S. and abroad; lumped in with alcohol use is binge drinking – a separate risk factor for many health maladies. (4) the cause of most all cancers is not well-elucidated (except for tobacco) and ascribing a single activity as a risk factor is dangerous. We at BourbonScript do not espouse excessive drinking, but thoughtful consumption. Also, living a healthy lifestyle has many benefits. This text is not meant to diminish the ASCO statement, but simply add granularity to a very complex issue.

For those interested in the complete article, it is available here:

The 50 State Challenge…

For those that have followed us for a while, we are (obviously) lovers of bourbon but we also love travel, food and the finer things in life. Our jobs take us routinely to interesting places and we try to leverage those opportunities to eat and (most importantly) drink local. As I was trying to decide which bourbon/whiskey to drink tonight as I watched the NCAA basketball tournament, I had a thought…what if hunting bourbon/whiskey could be more than a challenge to find the rarest, most valuable bottle? What if it were to diversify one’s collection and drinking options to include a mass- or micro-distilled bottle or bottles of whiskey from every state? The saying is that, in life, the journey is more important than the destination. In the bourbon/whiskey world that journey could include opening horizons to local or regional products that are not routinely available in one’s local store, restaurant or bar. My inner scientist loves this as well. How do the stills, the type of barrel, the climate, even the building materials of the rickhouse affect the final product?

Having been a drinker and collector for many years now, I have amassed a collection of nearly 350 bottles of whiskey. Nearly 100 of those bottles are currently open and being enjoyed, in moderation, over time. While I settled on a ‘bottom shelf’ but truly outstanding Kentucky bourbon tonight (Heaven Hill 6 year white label), I found myself looking at the bottles and thinking about the state of their distillation. Most were obvious: Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Colorado, California, Utah, etc. Most bottles are from large, well known distilleries. However, some of my favorites come from the off-the-path places, including the whiskey from Alpha Tango craft distillery in Indianapolis, IN. That whiskey in particular may not garner the highest score from Whiskey Advocate but the story is important to me. I’ve written about Alpha Tango before. A distillery owned and operated by a disabled veteran. A female master distiller willing to stop her work at the still to give me a tour and talk about a shared love of whiskey. A small building that I’d driven by 100 times and never bothered to stop. As I sip their whiskey, which is, don’t get me wrong, a quite solid and very nice sipping whiskey, I feel more connected to the story than I do when I pour a dram produced by a mega distillery and available on every local store shelf. I hope that the challenge of the journey does more than check a box that says that I achieved my goal. I hope it brings more stories and memories, like Alpha Tango, that  connects me to the distiller’s art into which they poured their heart and soul to create.

There is a quote from Shawshank Redemption that says, “If you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further.” Maybe you, the reader, is willing to become an active participant in this journey. While I haven’t catalogued my collection to know what states I have and which I am missing, if you have a  favorite local bourbon/whiskey (preferably a craft distillery), please feel free to respond in the comments, to Tweet us or to email us. In return, we’ll keep you posted here with a tally of which states we’ve completed and a review of our finds.



Bain’s South African ‘bourbon’

This week’s work travel finds me in Orlando attending a conference. For those that know the local foodie landscape in Orlando, you are aware that there are some amazing dining options with truly world-class chefs. My first evening in town this week, my work colleagues mentioned dining at Disney. For those that have followed us for a while, you know that we are not huge fans of most restaurants on the Walt Disney World property. Crowds, kids, characters and noise generally do not combine well for an outstanding dining experience. As foodies, these are the experiences I crave while on the road. However, my colleagues had done some research and chosen Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Jiko describes itself as an authentic South African dining experience at Disney. I’m often even more skeptical of themed dining experiences at Disney. A little research of my own identified that Jiko’s wine cellar has one of the largest selections of South African wine in the United States. Further, their menu features many authentic dishes with recipes and ingredients imported by Jiko to meet their needs. The cocktail list also features native ingredients. For example, their margarita replaces triple sec with an African liqueur. Imagine my surprise when the waiter, having learned of our interest in whiskey, could not wait to introduce us to a master whiskey taster on site from Bain’s Whiskey. The waiter instructed that we would be tasting a South African ‘bourbon.’ As you all are aware, the “Bourbon Act” more formally known as The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits defines bourbon in 27 CFR 5.22 as originating in the United States. Therefore, Bain’s can not legally be called a bourbon.

From Bain’s website, they column distill and age their single-grain, 100% South African maize (corn) whiskey in first-fill bourbon casks for 3 years and follows this by a second aging in first-fill bourbon casks for an additional 18-30 months. The result is a smooth 86 proof whiskey.

Nose: butterscotch, caramel, chocolate

Entry: sweet, buttery

Finish: short with chocolate, toffee, caramel

Score: 85 (B)

The experience, however, was much greater than a grade of B. The gentleman who we met with was presented to us as a ‘master taster.’ Together, side by side we sipped the Bain’s and discussed the flavor profile. The beauty of whiskey tasting was reflected in the different flavors we each detected. While I thought, consistently in fact, that I got these beautiful full-bodied chocolate notes, he described it buttery like popcorn. Here, we agreed on ‘buttery’ as an adjective to describe this nicely mid-brown whiskey. As we have so often noted on our Twitter feed, whiskey brings people together and builds relationships. The 10 minutes we spent enjoying the Bain’s became a teaching moment for my colleagues as to how to ‘properly’ taste whiskey and a topic that has continued this entire week. I’d score the experience a 100 (A+).

Bain’s is available in the US with a retail price of ~$38/bottle.

For love of the craft…

As a work traveler, I look for opportunities to learn, to experience and to drink whiskey wherever I go. One week may offer a tour of a mega distillery, the next may bring a tasting at a small liquor store or drinking mass produced bourbon at a sporting event. However, locating the out of the way or largely unknown distillers is a true joy and thrill of the hunt. I have been driving by a craft distillery called Hotel Tango in Indianapolis for months…maybe, dare I say, years. The story of the distillery is unique. They are the first distillery owned and operated by a disabled combat veteran. On this slow work day, I stopped in and met Maggie, their master distiller for a tour of their distillery and a discussion of their products.

Maggie shared that Hotel Tango began with unfinished spirits. Vodka, rum, gin and moonshine formed the foundation of their hard liquor distillations with limoncello and orangecello other additions to their family of spirits. On this day, Maggie had a batch of moonshine heating on their 150 gallon still with the wonderful aroma of cooking mash filling their small distillery room. The moonshine is a true 100% corn whiskey bottled and sold unaged. Predictably, it has a very distinct moonshine nose to it and the bite of a corn whiskey.

While Hotel Tango will be moving to a larger facility soon with mash tuns and additional stills, their current location has offered the opportunity to experiment with one-off products that have, undoubtedly, helped to develop their loyal customer base. I learned that their distribution is currently limited to 5 or 6 states with Texas serving as their 2nd largest market. However, the new location will allow them to expand in size and volume and reach many new markets.

While we discussed their current whiskey which was released in November of 2016, Maggie shared that it is a blend of 3.5 year bourbon sourced from Ohio and their own 1 year aged whiskey. It is a 90 proof, smooth whiskey. It finished with a nice rye flavor profile on the back of the tongue. Impressed by its flavor profile, I brought home a bottle and look forward to pouring it this weekend! I inquired about bourbon and learned that their first batch of bourbon is aging in the warehouse and will be ready for distribution within the next few months. I look forward to the opportunity to my return visit and sampling this new addition.

Beyond discussing production and spirits, Maggie and I had visited about the state of the bourbon/whiskey boom. Maggie shared that she believes we may be at the tail of the peak of the boom but believes that there will be an additional peak beyond the valley that is surely in the future. Like many distillers, she was quick to add the need to project the marketplace many years, if not decades, into the future. Until then, Hotel Tango will continue producing craft runs of spirits, made by hand, enjoyed by spirits lovers and cultivating a following that will likely only grow as their production increases in the months and years to come.

For more information on whiskey tango and their founder/owner Travis Barnes, visit: Thank you for your service to our country, sir. To our shared love of whiskey, we say Cheers!

A Master Distiller’s View on Bourbon Pricing

**At the time of this publication, Beam has revised their price increase schedule for Booker’s. New prices will be phased in over the next 2-3 years.** However, the interview that follows still reveals an interesting perspective from a competing master distiller. All comments are used with the permission of the master distiller.


Beam’s upcoming price increase for Booker’s is old news now having been announced a month or more ago and reviewed, analyzed and critiqued by every blog post, commentary and whiskey magazine in circulation. With Beam’s official statement now internet fodder, I interviewed a master distiller about Beam, Willett and how changes in pricing affect sales.

On a routine recent stop at one of my favorite local liquor stores, I ran into one of the most prominent master distillers in the bourbon business. Fortunate for me, his appearance was not well advertised and no one other than the owner was in the store. We had met previously and after some polite pleasantries about business and what’s coming in the near future from his own mega-distillery, I asked if I could ask him some questions regarding the state of recent announcements in the bourbon world. A conversation that began with politically correct ‘stock’ answers quickly evolved into his personal feelings about some of these changes and, having been pre-warned that I’d like to use his answers in a blog post, he asked that if I used his comments that I refrain from naming him publicly.

Bourbonscript (BS): What are your thoughts on Beam’s announcement of a significant price increase for Booker’s?

Master Distiller (MD): Remember that when the bourbon boom began, distilleries were not prepared for the increase in demand. After we recognized that the increasing demand was more than a passing fad, most of the major distilleries added additional capacity. We added employees, we added stills, we added rickhouses, we added bottling capacity. Given the age of most bourbons commercially sold today, most distilleries entered into, minimum, 20 year plans to meet the perceived demand. This is true for _______(his own distillery) and for Beam and most everyone else. If I recall correctly, Booker’s is 6-8 years aged which means that a plan to have enough barrels of the right age and enough bottles on the shelf in 2017 would have been laid out in 2009-2011. So, if we take the press release at face value, this means that Beam either significantly failed in planning for their 2017 release or they are going to have an excess of barrels aged in the range that they need for Booker’s. I’d be more comfortable if they announced that, effective immediately, they were reducing production translating into reductions in availability in 2023-2025. What I think they’re doing by reducing bottling in 2017 is increasing inventory of those additional barrels that remain in their rickhouses, which means that in 5-10 years, we see Beam release an aged, production-limited expression akin to Buffalo Trace’s BTAC series. A Booker’s 17 or Knob Creek 17, maybe. They’ve already had some success with this with their Rye release this year. Beam has lagged behind other producers in not having a ‘flagship’ top shelf brand and while many are criticizing them for attempting to make Booker’s that brand, I think you have to look to the future and what they intend to do with those remaining barrels for your answer on creating a premium brand.

As for the price increase…bourbon drinkers know Booker’s. They know what they have always paid for a bottle and unless you can convince them that the quality is significantly better (which it won’t be), sales will dip as those loyal supporters change to lower priced labels that they perceive to be of similar quality. Look for sales of Rowan’s Creek, Noah’s Mill, Makers 46, etc. to increase as sales of Booker’s drops.

BS: Buffalo Trace’s price increases on Pappy Van Winkle doesn’t seem to have affected sales.

MD: Pappy was already a limited production premium brand before the bourbon boom began. Yes, you could find bottles on the shelf in many stores because consumers weren’t willing to pay high prices for bourbon. Now, it’s the face of bourbon and every distiller and every distillery is attempting to reproduce the success of Pappy. You can’t compare Booker’s and Pappy because the cache is not there for the brand.

BS: What do you think of distilleries charging secondary market prices in their gift shops?

MD: We’ve always sold our products in our gift shop at MSRP as have many of the other distilleries in Kentucky. If there was any markup, it was minimal in an attempt to not compete with the local liquor stores that are our life blood. Beam began doing this a few years ago with their Heaven Hill limited releases and with their Elijah Craig aged expressions. Now, we’re hearing that Willett is selling their Family Estate series at secondary market prices. I suspect this is an effort to curb the resale of their releases and bring some of those secondary market profits back to the distillery. I commend Drew for seeing the opportunity to increase profits for the distillery. However, that greed can also destroy a brand. None of us are supportive of stores that price gouge or flippers who sell our products on the secondary market but, the bourbon boom will end at some point and our research shows that public opinion of distilleries and of those of us that make the bourbon is better if we prove that we have stood with the consumer instead of only attempting to make a quick buck. I’d rather a consumer be angry at a flipper that sold them a bottle for three-times retail than me for selling it to them at that price in our gift shop. I hope that when the bourbon boom ends those consumers keep coming back and buying my bourbon over the competitor’s because they see that we didn’t try to screw them over just because we could.

BS: Tell me more about your thoughts on stores that price gouge.

MD: Tell me where they are! We get reports on stores that price gouge every day. To a certain degree, it is the prerogative of the store to set the price of their bottles at whatever they want to charge. The free market will dictate whether or not consumers will pay their price. Some of the price guidance stores get comes from the distributors but many owners watch the secondary markets and think they can get away with charging those prices. If you’re in New York City or Las Vegas or Los Angeles, you might sell a $2000 bottle of Pappy, but in central Kentucky, no one is buying it in a retail store at that price. We’ve been clear that we are opposed to stores that sell our products at prices higher than what we recommend. Look, we know when we produce an limited release product, not every store can have a bottle on their shelf. We want those bottles in the hands of the bourbon lover that will drink and enjoy that product. It’s our craft. It’s our art. I want my bourbon to be drunk not stared at on a wall someplace. A store charging secondary prices means that the average bourbon lover can’t have access to that bottle. It means that it doesn’t get enjoyed except by a store owner who wants it to decorate their wall. That’s not why I do what I do. I assure you that we take claims of price gouging seriously and we have our own employees and our distributors investigate these reports. If you know of a store that received bottles of an expression every year then you saw them charge secondary market prices and now they’re not getting any from us, it’s because I’ve slashed their allocation.

BS: Do you think the market can sustain high prices for bourbon indefinitely?

MD: In the near term, yes. The demand has continued to increase each year. With limited supplies and significant demand, people will continue to pay whatever the market commands to obtain a bottle of their favorite bourbon or the bottle of bourbon that they perceive to be a idol others will be impressed by. We continually evaluate the marketplace as we plan for each new batch of bourbon we produce. As I said earlier, we have to plan many years in advance and predict what we think the market will support at that time. I’m still planning for a busy bourbon market in the early 2020s. However, the boom will end. There will be a time, probably within the next 10 years where there will be more product than demand. When that happens, I wouldn’t want to be the guy that staked my retirement on investing in bourbon. There will still be premium products and there will be a limited market that will pay for those products. I expect you’ll see top shelf bottles sitting on the shelves of stores like this.

BS: Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk with us about the state of the bourbon market now and in the future.