Bourbon’s Big Dilemma
Bourbonrs face tough decisions these days. The bottles we want are often impossible to find. Once we find them they’re often too expensive. I keep asking myself “Would I rather pay secondary prices at retail or never see a bottle on the shelf?” Unfortunately, that’s the choice in bourbon today. There seems to be no third option.
How bourbon has gone from your granddads brown water to a veblen good is quite remarkable. Some search for bourbons because of their high price and use it as a status symbol. Who cares if it taste good. It cost me $500 and came in a wooden box! That mindset still perplexes me.
Bourbon growth pushed more distilleries and retailers to increase price tags. Their rationale? “People are paying it on the secondary so why shouldn’t we be the one to profit.” Should the flipper or the businesses in the three tier system reap the benefits? That could be the distillery, distributor or the retailer. Part of me hates to see increased prices at retail. I’m holding out hope for the occasional rare bottle at MSRP. The other side wonders if increased prices would push out some of the hype and balance the market a little. Granted, there’s no perfect solution. But, everyone would agree that something needs to change.
As distilleries continue to fill as many barrels as possible they’ll still sell scarcity. Beam has filled 500,000 barrels of whiskey in the last two years. Yet, they were able to release Booker’s Rye as one of the most anticipated Limited Editions of the year. To their benefit the whiskey is great. I liked seeing it priced at $300. That means there is a small chance I will be able to find a bottle. Yes, it would wipe out my bourbon budget for months but I know it if it were priced at $70 there’s zero chance I’d find a bottle.
The question is this: who should profit from bourbons popularity? Would you rather a store carry a bottle at secondary prices or never see the bottle on the shelf? I’ll take your answers in the comments 🙂
I’d rather see it somewhere in the middle I guess, make it to where the flippers profit less so they don’t try so hard, but don’t let it get out of control like the secondary market.
If mildly higher prices on the shelf would push flippers out of the market, I would be ok with that. I enjoy the hunt, but it has become harder and harder these days. I get really frustrated however when the local stores start asking $120 for Elmer T. Lee because they saw someone price it that way on wine searcher.
YUP!! Went to one shop last night ETL – $69.00 & WLW Reserve Litre. $40.00. Went a store literally 3 miles down the street — ETL – $42.00 / WLW Reserve Litre $29.00. Do you go back & call out the gouger???
Two weekends ago I found ETL for sale for $139.99 at a higher end liquor store. Literally the next day I found 3 bottles at a local grocery store for $32.99. I apologize for being a hog but I bought all three bottles.
It’s okay. I just found two bottles at my local Total Wine today and bought both of them. I’m going to sleep well tonight too! They were priced at $37
Don’t waste your gas. Now you know where to shop. At least they sell WLW in your state. Since we cannot get it ( i have brought it by mail a few times) My go to is Elijah Craig 12. We are really becoming buddies.
Just an FYI in case you did not know but Elijah Craig 12 is no longer 12.they removed the age statement off the front some time ago and recently removed it from the back label and have announced it will be a blend including some younger than 12. I have 6 bottles of the 12 before the change and would tell you I would sell them to you for $100 each but I don’t think this is the place . Seriously just bought them at Costco for $27 each for personal consumption.
My bottle of Elijah Craig 12 y.o. cost me $15 on sale at the North Carolina ABC stores. I will admit it was a few years ago.
LOL. 100$ for EC12?
Are you out of your flipping mind?
Not worth it in the least.
(I hope that Scott was joking – if not – Bill, come to Ohio and I’ll give you an EC12)
Hey Lu’…..bought some ETL today for $33.99 each. ..up $4 from last year……I bought 5…left many on the shelf for others….not too bad. The price on the Weller Reserve litre is hysterical!!!!! “Crack is whack” yall”!!!
Apparently I should be buying up WLW Reserve, cause around here I can find it for $17 for a 750ml
I’m okay not seeing it on the shelf. I too hold out hope and hunt for retail unicorns and I’ve have hit a couple times, but usually I don’t. Luckily, local bars do have unicorns so I get a chance to go and taste them and that is enough for me. If the store carries the bottle at secondary I will never have a chance and I’d rather have a small chance vs no chance.
As long as I can get my “fave five” I am good. If I come across something that’s been on my “to try” list, then so be it; I will get 5 friends together, get the bottle, and give it a swish. However, I will be glad when the drinking populace goes back to vodkas and wines and gives the bourbon world back to its rightful heirs.
Eric- which are your Fave Five ?
I am all for distillers, distributors, and retailers increasing their prices on hard to get products.
I think in the end they will find the right price balance that will help reduce the 2nd market activity and pricing. In meantime, the additional profits can be used for further expansion, hire more employees, etc.
Also, the higher the price at retail, the riskier it becomes for someone to hoard those products to sell on the secondary market. They have to put out more money to buy it, inventory it, and when they sell it their margins are reduced. The cost of doing business may not be worth it at that point. Especially when there is the risk of getting stuck with a large qty of inventory that they weren’t planning on drinking themselves;-)
As an example, I am all for paying $40 to $50 for Elmer’s or OWA. It would not be my everyday sipper but it would be nice to have in the house. I am pretty sure you wont see many bottles of those products on the secondary market when selling at that MSRP. Now if the retail MSRP for OWA becomes $70, I think you will find that you will have a lot in stock on retail shelves. The market has spoken, so distillers, distributors, and retailers will need to adjust their prices downwards accordingly.
My 2 cents.
I would much rather the prices be high at retail so the distiller makes the profit rather than the swill scum secondary flippers.
If it is illegal to scalp concert and sports event tickets, how is it not illegal to scalp whiskey? I hate the idea of injecting the government into things, as I live in Ohio and all of the states around me are under state liquor list operation If the distiller does not pay the state, they do not get on the list of suppliers for that state. This adds NOTHING to the process but another money grab! I would be happy to pay $120 for a bottle of Elmer!!! I have never even SEEN one outside Buffalo Trace distillery!!! Lets talk about the BTAC and Pappy, while we are at it! All of that whiskey is in four digits now if you can find it at a flipper. And, ya know what? I got this aversion to being price-raped. Folks with some kind of secret connections grab up all the limited stock and then meter it out to the thirsty world at obscene prices. Stitzel-Weller and Buffalo Trace of late are holding the price at an affordable “special treat level”, but I still have never seen BTAC or Pappy on the shelf. I am going take a shot at making my own starting with some closely related top shelf products and some specially roasted oak for more flavoring. I will keep you all posted on how it goes. Chemical Engineering degree finally paying off.
It is illegal for private individuals to sell spirits to each other, they just do it anyway.
And a lot of the people getting these bottles are bars who do steady business with the retailers and are able to get first crack when they’re released. The per glass markup means big, big profits for bars and the retailers are going to keep the people who buy by the case happy before any individual customers.
I prefer the chase at retail prices. I’m unwilling to pay exuberant secondary prices, I don’t see that there’s value in paying 3-10X retail for most bourbon. But when you do find a gem in the wild it’s even more special. If the distillers and retailers sell at secondary prices, I feel the market will shift quick and they will be sitting on boatload of bourbon they’ll be selling for pennies in several years. Retailers will have a nice shelf trophy but that doesn’t breed loyalty and returning customer’s. People want to find the gem and that is probably why liquor stores have even more traffic than ever, in turn increasing more people through the door and the likeliness that they leave buying something even if it’s not the gem they were looking for. Overall, I think retail needs to stay retail, don’t get greedy. Secondary is a risk and also a small percentage of sales compared to retailers. Those are my thoughts but at the end of the day I live for the chase but only the retail cost.
Look it’s hard to see the retailers charging secondary prices, often more than secondary, for bottles that are going to sit on the shelves until someone with more money then sense buys them! Or worse, they just sit there… BTAC at $80 is too low, Pappy at $50 – $300 is too low, but is it better to see PVW 20 year at $2,500 on a retail shelf so you can say you saw one? No! It’s crazy that some shop owner feels he’s got a right to ask that for it! And does s/he have that right? HELL NO!
The money doesn’t belong in the shop owners hands, it belongs in the distillers hands! Those same shop owners are the ones fueling the secondary markets with the bottles they refuse to sell at a huge markup in their stores or sell at MSRP. They know they can make 6-8 times MSRP online. Retailers ARE the problem IMHO.
What is the top price you would consider purchasing a good bourbon?
For example: I was in Southern KY this weekend and saw an Elmer T sitting on the shelf. When asked if it was for sale – they said yes – for $60. I passed on it. Part of me was kicking myself as I left, I love ETL, but than again, is it worth $60? For me, on that day, it was a no – I’d rather spend that $60 on a quality Northern Kentucky store select. But ultimately, the answer, is that it’s a very subjective issue: If I had no Elmer T at home, I might have bought it for $60.
I still enjoy buying at MSRP in the Northern Kentucky stores I frequent and hope that it continues.
I will never pay more than ~$200 for any bottle. I have have had the Pappys and a few other rare ones, and, while they are good, no doubt, is the price worth it? Are they THAT much better than other $70 or even $45 whiskeys such that are much much easier to acquire such as Michters Toastwd barrel or just common bottles such as Rare breed, Rowan’s creek or Four Roses Small batch? No. No they are not at all. It’s 99% hype driving the really rares, not quality or taste.
Have you ever heard supply and demand? As long as people are paying high prices, the price will only go up until the bubble burst (if ever). Just look to what happened to scotches.
Nope. Never heard of it.
But much of the supply is being artificially restricted by distributors and distilleries. Yesterday I dropped in at my local shop for some Weller Reserve, which they were out of. I asked about Antique, which was not on the shelf, and had to settle for two bottles…that was all he’d sell me. Shop owner explained that Antique was allocated and they were able to get only two cases. He hadn’t seen Weller 12 since last fall.
I can’t wait for the day that the bourbon craze gives way to the next big thing and we can go back to a regular supply of reasonably priced bottles.
And just to illustrate the bs-itude of this, last week I dropped in at another local shop. The owner had joined BT’s ‘barrel select’ program and he’d just taken delivery of the bottles of Weller Antique from the barrel he allegedly picked. The ENTIRE BARREL was out for sale, and I grabbed 10 bottles at normal retail.
The owner told me that it was either join the program or get shut out on a lot of BT product.
This is the same owner that sold me a bottle of Old Rip 10 at retail because he didn’t feel right marking them up.
One more thing to vent about. I’m heading out soon for my annual trip to Bardstown KY, where I used to be able to get some pretty great bottles at reasonable prices. The past few years I’ve seen the steady, steep rise in prices…last year I grudgingly paid 80 for bottles of WLW12, can’t wait to see whAt it’s at this year.
I will drink from a lower shelf at retail than pay those ridulous prices. I agree saw a Lee at $99 a bottle and passed on it. My option by small oak barrels add your favorite low end bourbon wait a couple of months and it’s taste very good.
Retail prices and have purchaser open the bottle in the store!
I have thought this many times,
*** as no one will trust to buy an open bottle in the secondary market.. !!
Cut the seal at purchase.!!
I love older oaky 15 year bourbons neat, cant find them any more.
The only issue with this is that sometimes I buy bottles to be donated at a charity auction. Cant donate an opened bottle.
The description of these “scarce” bourbons as Veblen goods is apt.
I suspect, as it often seems to be, that interest in very expensive bourbon, because it is expensive, will wane. There was a time when you couldn’t get Buffalo Trace at all. Then, and for awhile, liquor stores limited purchase amounts. Then you couldn’t find it in bars. Now, its everywhere and reasonably priced. I buy it by the case. It is my house brand. It’s an excellent bourbon (my opinion).
In addition to the probability of waning interest, is the likely economic reality. Ultimately, the ability to make a high quality bourbon in decent quantities such that it can be sold at affordable prices will prove to be more profitable than selling a very limited amount of the same bourbon at a very high price. The price per unit can’t generally be high enough to beat a very wide run at prices affordable to the general bourbon drinking population. I can’t imagine that the costs of making more expensive liquor – even if it is really REALLY great – are significantly higher than making good or average liquor. It depends upon the mash bill, age, process and other factors that do not include interaction with the gold market or the technology corridor. I am not an economist, but my guess is that the profits from a very expensive, but very limited run are not as good as a moderately priced item at a very wide run.
My opinion: be patient.
Yupwhile visiting a craft distillery they brought up the fact that the government wants to be sure they get their share once it goes into the barrel, so they end up paying insurance every year it is in the barrel to make sue taxes get paid.
Very well put, thanks!
I used to pursue all the “cool kid” LE’s with fervor. Now I have come to realize that I can get three 11.5 year old KC SiB store pick bottles for the price of one KC 2001 (14 yo) or two 11 year old FR SiB OESK store picks for the price of one Elliott’s Select (again, 14 yo). While I’m know there are differences – they just aren’t that different to command those prices.
And that’s all at MSRP. Secondary pricing is insane!
Daniel, you mean they are still making Elmer T. Lee? I have not seen it on a shelf in five years…..maybe longer. The very Crazy world of bourbon!!!
I think two things are happening. One is that technology/science is making better products for us consumers. Over time, that will begin to make higher quality more accessible, so maybe, just maybe there will be a light at the end of the tunnel on this “can’t find vs. overpriced” marketplace.
But that will take years to run it’s course. And it will never return to where it was because bourbon is not the same as what it used to be. The products coming out of the distilleries are far superior to the days of old and that has created a bigger marketplace with a bigger demand.
I am in favor of paying more to the distillery/distributor/retailer and try to discourage the secondary market players. I am not opposed to what they do, as it is a free marketplace, but not everyone behaves as well as they should. Just once in a while the Pappy bottle may not have Pappy in it…
It is better that the distiller, the distributor and the retailer all make more money than they did. They are the ones involved and partnering to make our products available at a fair price. The nature of what a fair price is has changed, but I would prefer that the people who can actually improve the product and distribution be the ones who benefit from the surge of dollars into getting us the rare bottles. At least that way there can be a reward for all, not just black marketeers.
And eventually, it could begin to turn this thing around.
“One is that technology/science is making better products for us consumers”
How so? Hopefully you’re not referring to the likes of Cleveland Whiskey shite that use “disruptive technology”… Cant substitute for time in oak.
I wouldn’t have passed on the $60 ETL, in fact I’d have bought each bottle.
Do I miss $25-30 ETL? Yes of course. But under today’s circumstances, $60 is a good price.
As for who should profit, I think the distillers should increase their prices. More profits for them means they’ll invest in more capacity for future production.
There was only one bottle. Good price for a secondary mark up, i agree… Good price when I don’t have 4 unopened bottles sitting on my shelf at home, I agree
But when I can get ETL at a store for MSRP, I’ll wait and take my chance (granted I have to be somewhat vigilant in patrolling social media to see when the ETL comes in).
to each their own.
so if you visit Cave City, KY, go find Rae’s Liquors and get your $60 ETL.
Not sure if this will help or add to the frustration, but pricing at some retail stores is based on replacement cost and not on purchase cost. This allows the store to sell to the customer that is willing to step up and then replace the bottle/s for additional customers. To price scarce bottles based on purchase cost then creates another dilemma for the retailer. Who gets to buy the low priced scarce bottles when the store only receives 3 from the supplier and the store has a waiting list of 30 people? Pricing based on replacement cost eliminates those issues. In addition, some suppliers leverage the sale of scarce bottles with slower moving brands creating a very high premium for the retailer. This additional investment in inventory too often goes unnoticed and is not factored in.
There’s built-in problem the supply-and-demand law as it applies to our Bourbon: time lag!
Auto manufacturers, by example, can respond to demand ups and downs relatively quickly.
Good Bourbon, by contrast, takes at least 6 years to age properly.
Distillers are in a tight corner right now: the demand for good Bourbon is at record levels,
and there’s not enough “stuff” on hand to meet it. Some, if not most, will increase
initiation somewhat, hoping to take advantage of the Bourbon “rise”down the road. Prices for the
available good Bourbon will rise in relation. At some point, someone somewhere will shift focus to
“really excellent and affordable” RUM. Threads begin and grow. price/scarcity of Rum increases.
Bourbon sales begin to fall off.
But this will take years. We’re in for a bit of a wait for any Bourbon price relief, guys.
YEAH!!! BUY RUM!! Better than VW!! Better than BTAC!!! BUY RUM!!! BUY RUM!!! BUY RUM!!!!
I likes me somma Dat EL DORADO!!!!
agree – there are many complex, aged rums (18 y, 20+, solera styles) that can be found for under $50 (and sometimes $40). A great way to wait out the bourbon pricing madness…
Hey…what do you recommend? My personal faves are El Dorado and Appleton Estates…
I’d also rather pay higher prices than see quality fall. Age statements have almost disappeared and while it’s still good, I’ve been sensing a drop in qulaity of many brands. If paying up takes care of that, so be it.
Geesh – this week, the most recent ETL batch came to my local store down the road, and it’s $38.95. In Nov 2015, it was 29.95! Quite an increase. I’d have to pass if it was higher than $40.
It’s all about supply and demand. If people would stop supporting the Secondary Market and only buy what they can get their hands on, the secondary flippers would stop buying to resell. I have seen this on more than one occasion in my various hobbies, and bourbon is no different. Stop supporting the highly inflated prices of the Secondary Market, and within 6 months the market will collapse. The problem is … can you control your ‘need’ of a “Rare” bourbon that was made Rare due to a Flipper’s Market, or will you cave and keep supporting it?
I’m to the point of being SO tired of running around like an ass looking for “RARE” stuff. Sure, sometime stuff falls in my lap (as I’m sure it does for a lot of us – right place / right time). Felt lucky to stumble upon a KC2001 Batch 1 — store had a few. Got call on a Booker’s Rye from a shop I regularly frequent (OK – F’ all you – I know I said I wouldn’t pay that price – but it was “dangled” in front of me so to speak)… never worked out though. Store was “shorted” – Oh well. Last night I ran across a store w/ a stash of “Yippee Ki Aye” & Old Scout Single Barrel 9 year bourbon – didn’t buy any – no interest. But it was there, & at good prices! I no longer ask to be put on “lists” & I no longer “hunt” during the busy season. If I hit, cool. If not – whatever. I refuse to be one of “those guys” (BTW – liquor stores know us all a mile away – & hate us). Most of these store now see EVERYBODY as a flipper & they really hate that too. That’s why PVW20 was $2000.00 every where I saw it last year (most shops still have for $2000.00 – LET IT F’N ROT!!). That & Scumbag Liquor Reps (They all are!! Especially EMPIRE from NY) pile on so much SHITE all year to some of these owners that they can only hope to make a nice chuck w/ some WV or BTAC. This whole thing needs to just run it’s course, like every other “fad”. I hope in 3–>5 years it’ll be somewhat normal again. Till’ then… BT, WT101 & RYE101, EHTSB, RRBIB, KC9 Single Barrel, & OGDBIB & Larceny (new faves!).
Whiskey pricing is a very sad state of affairs now. Looking for good value for money is a tricky business at this point. I really think that in the current and foreseeable markets the best bets are identifying excellent individual batches of standard middle and lower shelf products.
Five years ago I hustled and put away quite a few bottles of BTAC, Van Winkle, and Parker’s Heritage Collection. I don’t count on acquiring any more of them now, and I certainly am not paying $ 500+ per bottle for any of these. I keep remembering those three 21 yo Rittenhouse Ryes and two 25 year old Rittenhouse ryes I saw on a shelf in January 2011. I could have bought all five bottles for $ 1,000. $ 1,000 won’t buy one bottle of either of them now.
We need to move the flippers over to another area in the liquor market. We need one big article that claims bourbon is passé and the next BIG thing is … Um … Cuban rum! There you go. Haven’t been able to get our hands on this since the 1950s. Way more rare than Pappy! Be the first in your crowd to seek it out and put it in your liquor cabinet.
To answer the question I would rather see Retail stores sell it at higher prices and have the bottle be more available. That way people may have to pay higher prices but atleast they are able to drink that highly sought after bottle instead of not being able to find it. I also think this would slow down flippers.
As for the Elmer T Lee conversation $60 would be a deal where I am from. One you never see Elmer T Lee and two it never goes for less than $80. So regionally this question plays a different role based on where you live. Its all relative!
I am a retailer and yes I do sell hot bourbons at market price. To not do that would be no different than the consumers that object to that selling their house at what you think it is worth when some body else is willing to pay you double what you think it is worth. The true value is the price a willing seller gets from a willing buyer. At this time, the scarcity of fine bourbon has created a grey market and I hate it. I wish the distilleries would set a high enough price that this imbalance will disappear. If they did I could make up some of that funny money by getting larger allocations as some retailers would pass.
For every store like yours there are other stores that sell at msrp. And those stores get my repeat business. if you price your “hot” bourbons at “market”, it’s been my experience that the other bourbons in your store are a tad higher too.
THANK YOU MIKE!!! you have a responsibility to do it not only for yourself(as a business owner) but for the bourbon community as a whole. If all retailers charged “market” the current secondary prices would fall and a true market price, somewhere between where it is currently and MSRP. See my post below for more clarification of what I’m saying.
“If all retailers charged “market” the current secondary prices would fall and a true market price”
Waiting for your “post below” to clarify.
I was actually very surprised but on June 13th I got an email from a place where I am a good customer. They informed me that they received a small supply of Pappy Van Winkle products and they would be available on a first come first save basis. It was limited to one per customer. I ran over right away and was able to take my choice of one of the 3 selections available. I went for the oldest age product and ended up with a Van Winkle 13 year old Family Reserve Rye from Pappy Van Winkle’s private stock. I only paid $129.99 which after looking at the after market appears to be quite a bargain. So it looks like there are some liquor stores that at least won’t gouge you and sell it at a fair price.
I don’t pay the prices the flippers ask for anything. I do buy things I like when I see them. Knob Creek Single Barrel (750 ML) has been on sale in VA in the last few months for $35.00. Did I bunker some? Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three bags full. (The things I have will never be sold on the secondary market.) I am getting a few other things that I like and am seeing missing from the shelves occasionally. If you see something you like at a fair price, GET IT!
I say let the distillers take coup off the flippers. Without the distillers, we would have little or no good spirits.
Seriously great bourbon is still available on the retail shelves at decent prices. I picked up a Masterson’s 10 year Rye just a few weeks ago and it was met with rave reviews from everyone who tried it. I have stopped buying bottles at secondary market $ and refuse to do so. I will drink scotch and the other whiskeys that are not being collected by the “wanna be” connoisseurs .
I drink Willett and call it a day.
Wow, really?!!!….I have yet to find/see ANY Willet anything on a shelf!
I think it comes down to the integrity of the retailer / restaurant to do what’s fair, and many have decided to ride the secondary market wave and say “suck it” when pricing these items on their shelf or spirits list. When that happens, I usually take my business elsewhere. Liquor (and wine) is for drinking and sharing with friends, not coveting and only thinking of monetary profits. Not the people I want to hang out with.
I will continue to shop only at liquor stores that price reasonably, based on the MSRP, and from them I will take what I can get. There is so much good bourbon available at reasonable prices, with plenty of variety to keep things interesting. You may have to work hard to nab some of the more sought after bottles, but it’s worth it. I refuse to support the insanely inflated prices of the secondary market, and will not patronize liquor stores that raise their prices to target the same audience. That said, I was lucky enough to get a bottle of 2015 BTAC WLW for $79 in a store lottery…so maybe the bourbon gods are just smiling down on me.
We have a pretty substantial bourbon inventory, maybe 60 bottles, from one Pappy 15 to various rock gut/small barrel crap. Living in a dry county requires us to stock at home. I don’t think there is $100 taste difference between any two of them – I’d always rather have the $100 and drink the less good one! The distiller should charge higher prices and the stores should to make the great stuff available at some price!
The last person I want to profit is the “professional flipper”, but if the stores price them to sit on the shelf, it’s going to be outrageously priced for everyone, the product won’t move and we all lose.
Just to be clear, distilleries are profiting mightily from bourbon’s popularity; let’s not be trying to give them more money because we think they’re undervaluing the product. I don’t know the business model of a distillery, but I imagine there’s a need to be mindful of profit margins, brand marketing, alcohol regulations and simple logistics. To repeatedly adjust prices, up OR down, according to the popularity of the moment could be detrimental to the business, as well as relationships with distributors and retail customers. I’m not opposed to distillers making more money, but to disagree with Blake, I think there’s a third option.
I would prefer that retailers have a strategy to reward customers with access to limited products, and publish that information for everyone to know the rules of entry. It’s illegal in many states for a retailer to require a customer to purchase alcohol product A to obtain alcohol product B so it would need to be more sophisticated than that, but a rewards program or some way to fairly recognize regular and repeat customers. Ideally the retailer would be transparent about what their customers _potentially_ have access to, and even be informed when a customer _didn’t_ qualify for a product that was available to others. With that in mind, a retailer can charge an MSRP-like price for a highly sought after product because that customer has generated many times more profit from other products purchased from the establishment. Of course that only benefits the regular spirits/alcohol buyer and might alienate the occasional shopper who still has an interest in LE products, so I imagine there could be some sort of lottery or other anyone-is-welcome approach for a smaller percentage of products to maintain a positive image and be inclusive.
With that in place, it’s up to the consumer to decide where his or her dollars will be spent. My guess is that the reward strategy will generate more revenue for the retailer, offer a “path to heaven” for the consumer, and provide a level of transparency that has rarely been seen. An unintentional by-product of retail transparency might lead to exposing the dark underworld of beverage distribution. I can dream, can’t I?
You really don’t understand business do you.
I live in NH where the Liquor Stores are all State run. No price gouging, which is good. On the other hand, Pappy and BTAC seldom make it to the consumers. Some stores seem to get none, some get one, and they’re always spoken for. Also, we seem to be a little behind the rest of the world. (Forged Oak has just reached us within the last 30 days.) However, the entire statewide inventory is available online, so you generally know what can be gotten where, and at what price (almost always MSRP or below, w/no sales tax.) All that said, I am not a flipper, and would never spend that kind of money. I’d rather see *more* of the rare stuff available to us, and at fair market price. I have no issue paying over $100 for a bottle of bourbon so long as it is worth the cost. That said, I also have no issue paying $28 for a bottle of Eagle Rare, either… 🙂
I’d like to see the distillers start something like a wine club but with a limited number of seats. For example, I’d pay $1,000 to join and get right to buy one bottle of every release at MSRP. I would choose a retailer who would get the shipment from distiller and pocket normal margin. If I wanted to I could bequeath membership or sell it like an asset. Maybe it has a 20 year life. But this kind of system would put cash to distillers and cut out the flippers and opportunistic store owners.
There was a time $100.00 bought a really fine smoking pipe but not anymore because we will pay whatever the market bares and the same with most products these days. Just don’t put out for it and gone a substitute that suites your fancy. All the markets are out of reach of the everyday consumer. Stop buying
To me, there are 2 parts to being a bourbon drinker. First is the thrill of the chase and then enjoyment of sipping the reward. Just by stopping in at liquor store after liquor where ever I go, I have been able to find great bottles – Pappy’s, ETL, Rittenhouse 25, Old Scout SB at 60%+, GT Stagg, EC 21, Weller, and more. I even have my wife in on the hunt! Hint: ABC in Virginia has a pretty good website and usually has their stock on line. They sell at MSRP. Just has my sister pick up 3 bottles of ETL for me at $33 each. Score!
It’s out there. Happy hunting and sipping!
You’re right! But the stock is running low on the southeastern side of town!!!! Thanks for the heads up dude!
Whoa, whoa, WHOA!! Folks lets understand that this whole problem is supply and demand – this is between us consumers and the manufacturer.
The middle man can do whatever he wants.
If the distillers raise their prices after not properly gauging the market why should they reap the benefits of extra cash for less work ( due to improper >oops we didn’t make enough< buisiness practices ) ??!
Personally I'm a middle class working alcoholic raising a family and paying a mortgage … Forty bucks is my cap for bourbon 60 for scotch. Eligah Craig is on the fence and 4-roses single barrel has my eye on em screw stagg with the btac and pappy was a waste of money at 60$
All tasted like corn sugar anyhow
All that said, buying a limited release or special edition (yes even a rare, but delicious bourbon/whisky) for a memory or a gift is awesome and perhaps priceless and I do believe is a nice first world benefit/ privilege that is sad to see gone from the shelf do to the greed and shady practices of worlds jackasses.
So let the knuckleheads who misjudged the crazy whims of man, recreate the stocks necessary To supply the water of life to those that love it at the standard price affordable to us tax paying common folk who, well, deserve (1-3 hours pay) be sated thereby ?
Patience is needed
I don’t mind they system the way it is now because I am a preferred customer at 3 or 4 stores and I will often get a shot at the hard to get bottles I want.
On the other hand, if most distillers producing the elite bottles raise their prices closer to secondary levels, it could be the pin that pops the bourbon bubble, so it would be more available anyway and without all the chasing.
Stirred some sh!t on this one didn’t ya Blake!! 🙂
Hahahaaa!……..”double, double toil and trouble….fire burn, and caldron bubble”….lol.
I agree with snuffing the “SECONDARY Bourbon Market”
I love older bourbons “NEAT” and love to share the experience w my friends.
After 8 years of trying every way to get an edge and 100’s of hours spent….
(( searching out limited editions & older bourbons, driving out of state with 1000’s of miles logged, developing relationships with employees / store owners in the market, taking off work, attending raffles, time on line searching & re-searching ))
I gave up……
The overall price tag was way too much..
“And” the holey grail of bourbon …..
“The Stitzel Weller distilled Pappy” ….The original no longer exists.!!
Its all Buffalo Trace distilled & aged now.
Everything bottled after Stitzel Weller was gone is 100% Marketing.
Bourbon tasting is a little like wine tasting and everyone has a different Palate.
In a blind tasting, most of us would not pick a bourbon such as Pappy anyway,
we just want to think we would.. 🙂
This is all about “Marketing” & sitting those bottles on the shelf as trophies..
My collection has always been about 2 bottles, one bottle collected & on bottle open to share.
I have opened rare bottles while purchasing in a retail enviroment & allowed others to share the experience, That’s what its all about…
#1. I would like to see the “Bottle Shelf Price” go up to help kill the secondary markets.!!
Seeing the bottles on the shelf & knowing you can save the money to buy one, beats never seeing a bottle,
Most people have never even seen most limited edition bourbons.
#2 I would also be ok cutting the seal at purchase on small rare limited edition offerings, as this would hurt the secondary market in the long run…
I have a wonderful collection and have no intention of ever selling even one bottle.. they will be drank, shared, gifted, or willed ….open or not.
This is my first comment ever on a blog, hope it is appreciated by all.
Great comment, enjoyed reading it….Make more.
Just picked up 5 Elmer T. Lee….yes, at MSRP! Sweet!!!!
IMHO, without the secondary markets, Bourbon whiskey would not be enjoying the crazed popularity it is now. I think the secondary market is what’s fueling the industry boom right now……there’s always BIG money in marketing something that most folks cannot afford….that’s what makes these limited editions/allocated stuff so popular and desirable……the prestige of owning a coveted bottle and bragging rights. And yes, I’m guilty as charged! 🙁
I also have an extensive bourbon collection. I have been collecting (and drinking, HA!) stuff for about 6 years now, but i am not a flipper……however; I would (and will) sell my entire stockade to a bar!
I am not taking part in the ultra, super-duper, “we made one barrel, and you can’t have it” fuss over bourbon. To me, I enjoy what I can reasonably afford, and that is all I am willing to commit to. If something comes in a beautiful display box, and the owner thinks that because it costs $250 more than a mid-shelf level, then good for them. I have better things to do with my money than have a sip of (fill in the blank) and tell everyone how much better it tastes than your brand.
I grew up in Western Kentucky, and although I have lived in South Florida for the last 25-years, I have always enjoyed a good bourbon nightcap. Several of my friends used to make fun of me for choosing bourbon over other spirits. They would tease me about “hillbilly brown corn” when I would host our annual Kentucky Derby Party. Now….(oh, my)…several have changed their tunes, but Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, or Woodford Reserve isn’t good enough for them. Once in the past I had a tall neat pour of Pappy. Very good, quality throughout, beautiful finish. But, now if you can even find a bottle, you can’t afford a bottle. Not playing that game, I will do without it.
Best to everyone, and Go Cat’s !
I wouldn’t like to see the prices at retail inflate. Only due to the fact that all of the great mid price daily drinking whiskeys would have an increase in price too.
I personally just left 3 bottles of booker’s rye on the shelf because of the 300 price tag. In the same breath I left the store with the rye spending 500 on 7 bottles that ranged from a 39.99 earl t Lee to a 150 bottle of Willett xcf. the only 300 bottle in my collection is a Yamazaki 18 and a bottle of a.h hurst 16 I picked up a few years ago.
The ticket scalping analogy is a good one. For those interested, check out the NPR show Planet Money episode “Kid Rock vs The Scalpers”. Of course, distilleries can’t just suddenly increase the number of bottles for premium stuff as he could increase the number of concerts if he wanted to. However, other strategies Kid Rock used could be tried.