2015 Bourbon Report

It seemed poetic that the Distilled Spirits Council released their annual report on Groundhogs day. I almost copy and pasted my post from the 2014 report to save time from typing out the same information. Visit any bourbon bar or new craft distillery and you’ll know bourbon is booming. Check your local liquor store and you’ll find five new brands in the “super premium” category. The empirical data is evident but it’s still interesting to take a look at the actual numbers.

You can read the full report on the Distilled Spirit Council site.

Take a look at sales by category. The largest growth is in the “Super Premium” category with a increased revenues of $400M.


Other interesting facts. My comments are in bold

  • Millennials of legal drinking age interest in discovery driving innovation and premiumization. Darn kids with their skinny jeans and Twitter account driving up my bourbon prices.
  • Modernized alcohol laws expanding consumer access and choice. We still have a dated system but progress is good.
  • Growth of micro-distilleries generating excitement in spirits category. From 92 in 2010 to more than 750 in 2015. I’m betting big on Craft. I think there will be 4-5 Craft distilleries that make a big impact. Those 92 distilleries that were around in 2010 should have some excellent product by now.
  • Bourbon, Tennessee, Rye & White/Corn had combined sales of $2.9B. Yes, that’s a “B”. And that’s supplier side so who know what the retail number is.
  • Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey was $2.5 of the $2.9B
  • Rye whiskey jumped close to 20% to $129M. Still small compared to bourbon but people are starting to catch on the how great rye whiskey is.


    Those distilleries operating in 2010 should have good stuff by now, but I think most have been too busy selling “moonshine” and 3 month old whiskey that underwent an accelerated “aging” process to have any 5 year old whiskey available.

    I’m hoping there at 5 or so that had a little foresight. I know guys like Smooth Ambler, Blacones and Wyoming whiskey did

    What I don’t understand with some of these craft distilleries is their future pricing model. Essentially, you have a number of these craft shops selling 2 or 3 year old whiskey at $75 a bottle. What happens when they start putting out their 10, 12 or 15+ year product?….I doubt anyone is going to be willing to pay $250+ for a 10 yr old craft bourbon when they can get something from a big shop for much cheaper (thinking of all the fancy wood boxed Cowboy bourbon gathering dust). Yet even as I write that, you still have people dropping serious coin on these young whiskies so who’s to say they can’t get that much for older stock once it finally arrives. At what point, if ever, do they begin to fall in line with the big boys and their price structure.

    I think that’s the direction we’re heading. Eventually, they’ll have to compete based on price and quality. For now, there’s so many new drinkers they can put out decent product with a fancy label and $100 pricetag and still sell. Price elasticity is incredible if you’re a producer.

    great article as always but would it be possible to make pictures bigger in the future? Typically i am very interested in the charts you post but typically end up downloading the images and doing a grainy zoom in to read the contents clearly.

    Blake, could you please mention what the names of the five new “super premium” whiskies are? In my mind, they are the limited editions, like the BTAC, EC 18 23, crappy (so sorry, I meant Pappy). I understand if you want to keep them on the DL. 😉 Plus, I feel the “craft” distillers are just trying to make a quick buck and putting out swill. Age it for 6-8 years then see what they got. None of what I tried taste like the Willett 2 and 3 rye has the potential for. IMO.

    Easy w/ the big words… We’ve all drank enough whiskey to have some (at least minor) brain damage!! I had to go and look up “Empirical”!! 🙂

    Just an example but I didn’t have 5 specific releases in mind. Examples would be Blood Oath, Orphan Barrel line, Pikesville, 1792 variations, etc.

    This industry is spinning out of control with prices. It’s absolutely ridiculous the price tags on some of these aged bottles. Bourbon/whiskey are quickly becoming a luxury for the rich.If the prices keep increasing, I will move on to something else, like aged rums, which forme, is just as tasty. It’s too much happy horseshit in the Whiskey business now….too many smoke and mirrors and greed Eventually, they will cause their own downfall….more people will get tired of this hunting and butt kissing shit just to get a bottle of so called premium stuff. Sometimes, it’s just not worth the headache, physical effort and cost (unless you’re a goddamn flipper) to get a bottle. People will soon move on to something more obtainable. ….because what’s going on now is pure nonsense. These distilleries whining about not having enough stock are full of it.

    ….and what will cause people to leave the whiskey industry will be out of anger, frustration, cost/pricing and they will get tired of the chase and move on…

    Just ask the Vodka industry. …..I can’t wait….maybe then, these distilleries will learn a valuable, but costly lesson about supply and demand.

    Greed conquers so much… Perhaps I should stick with the whiskey that I like best and try the avoid the advertising shills… I thinks a word, even if old-fashioned.

    Ha, well the bourbon space in my house is quickly being taken over by kids so that leaves little room for bourbon photoshoots :). It’s not intentional

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