On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” hosts Adam Teeter, Joanna Sciarrino, and Zach Geballe discuss how bourbon production could evolve in the near future. In response to a listener question about bourbon distillers expanding, will notable brands like Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Maker’s Mark, and Buffalo Trace be able to keep up with the demand?
Are these distillers anticipating an even greater increase in consumers across the United States, or do they plan to take the American spirit overseas? How will this affect price points or the availability of bottles? Tune in to learn more, along with a review of last week’s Bar Convent Brooklyn trade show.
Or Check Out the Conversation Here
Adam Teeter: From VinePair’s New York City headquarters, I’m Adam Teeter,
Joanna Sciarrino: And I’m Joanna Sciarrino.
Zach Geballe: In Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe.
A: And this is the “VinePair Podcast.” It’s so good to be back.
J: You’re back, Adam. Finally.
A: You missed me in the studio.
J: Of course I did. I love to drink Dirty Shirleys with you in the studio
A: Never again. Immediately no. I’m telling you, I’ve seen what I needed to see.
A: Although I did have a Dirty Shirley this week at BCB. People are canning Dirty Shirleys as RTDs now.
Z: I saw something about this. I’m so terrified.
A: I mean, it tasted like Cherry Sprite. Like alcoholic cherry Sprite.
J: It really wasn’t that sweet.
A: It wasn’t that sweet.
J: It didn’t taste like a Dirty Shirley.
A: No, it didn’t taste like a Dirty Shirley. It was a little better. But also, I don’t know why I would drink it. But to each their own. Anyways, Zach what have you been drinking recently?
Z: Not that. Thank God. I’ve had two things recently that are of interest. So one is, in light of our conversation from this past Friday about Cabernet Sauvignon, I was then moved to drink some Cabernet Sauvignon over the weekend. In particular, I had a nice Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon from Andrew Januik, who’s a winemaker here in Seattle. It’s called “Baba Yaga.” It’s from a couple of different vineyard sites in Walla Walla. We had steak and drank Cabernet Sauvignon. It was maybe kind of basic, but also delicious. And I was reminded, as I was when we recorded that episode, there’s a reason people love Cab. People kind of focus on it too much and might like other things, too, from time to time. But as I said on the episode, you can’t really hit on Cab. And then the other thing I had was, I have been tasting some stuff that was relevant for a story that I mentioned I was writing. That is actually out on the site. It’s about what I have decided to call multi-fruit wines, which I find really fascinating. They are this very small but growing category of wines that are fermentations, that mix wine grapes with other fruits. So it’s mostly apples and pears, although you’re seeing some with the plums, I think you see some people doing other things. And in particular, I had a couple of bottles from Art and Science, which is in Oregon, in the Willamette Valley. And they’re really interesting. If you pick the right grape variety and the right apple or pear or whatever variety, you actually get this really interesting resonance between the fruit flavors in both. And the resulting drink can be really quite tasty and interesting. I would say, they can be a little strange and sometimes take a little bit to put myself in the right frame of mind for this kind of drink. But as it’s starting to be nicer weather here and just in general, they’re really interesting to me and often pretty tasty.
J: What can you compare it to? Because I’m curious, I’ve never had one myself. Is it more like a traditional grape wine? I picture it kind of like a kombucha.
Z: No, I would say that they don’t have that yeasty fermented quality, with the exception of one that I tried that definitely was more on that really funky side. I would say that what they taste most like are either one of two things: If they’ve got a good percentage of wine grapes in them, then I would say they taste like the variety that you’re expecting. The way that apple or pear cider has a kind of tannin-y quality and a textural component to it or a dryness to it that’s a little different than wine, they often have that. The ones I’ve had that are made with red grapes and possibly red fruits or even with apples, it’s not really like sangria, but the fruit character is more overt. You get more of that fresh, ripe fruit character than you even might find in the wine itself. Some of that’s maybe because some of these are getting done through carbonic maceration. So they’re accentuating the fruit character. They’re definitely not wines to cellar; they’re wines to drink right away. But they’re good and fun and weird and I kind of dig those things from time to time.
A: So why are people doing it, Zach? Is it just for fun? This is cool, like, let’s do it. Do you know who started it? Because it seems like there are a good amount of people who are now doing it in Washington and Oregon.
Z: On the West Coast, yeah. I encourage people to read the piece. I’m not going to just repeat what I wrote there, because there is some of that in it.
J: You can click on our website.
Z: At VinePair.com, you might have heard of it. But I think the reasons are kind of twofold. One is that people are interested in experimenting and there’s a lot of grape material floating around. There’s often a lot of interesting orchard fruit on the West Coast, stuff that is maybe not really commercially viable on its own. We’ve talked about it on the podcast that cider has not really grown the way that some people thought. So there may be some loose fruit out there that people can get their hands on without paying a ton of money. I think the other reason is that some of these people do see it — the way it was viewed historically — as this hedge against relying on a single crop. One of the challenges that we’re seeing with wine is that certainly individual varieties and even wine grapes as a whole are a little bit of a monoculture in some places. And so if you’re balancing out your production with this other fruit that might do better with different growing conditions. That might be, in some cases, much more resistant to smoke taint, say. That is something that the producers I talked to said that these other fruits are just not going to show the effects of wildfire smoke in the same way that wine grapes might. So you’re kind of giving yourself a little bit of a bridge there. The last thing, and most interestingly, that a couple of people alluded to with me is that some of them see it as a more honest reflection of terroir. That they’re not just looking at the sense of place through one particular fruit or one particular variety. But in the same way that some people might argue that a field blend of different varieties is a more accurate reflection of a place, well, some people might think that a blend of multiple fruits in the same fermentation might be a more accurate representation of a sense of place than just relying on wine grapes. Take that for what it’s worth.
J: I think that’s interesting.
Z: What about you, Joanna?
J: I have had a lot to drink in the past week, I think. I went to a really lovely Cognac dinner the other night at Gage & Tollner in Brooklyn for Louis XIII. I’ve never had it before, so that was really special. But we also had some lovely wines that evening as well. One was Francois Chidaine Baudoin. I think it was a Vouvray, which was delicious. And then to pair with the exceptional steak there, they ordered a Château Simon Pelham Rouge 2017, which was awesome. I’ve never had that before, either. That whole dining and drinking experience there is amazing. I think those were the highlights from the past week.
A: Yesterday and Tuesday, but mostly Tuesday.
J: We went to Bar Convent Brooklyn for this year’s trade show and that was really interesting. We got to drink a lot of interesting stuff and meet some really cool people. What was your standout, Adam?
A: My standout? Ooh, that’s good. I think Hendrick’s had the best booth.
J: Oh, yes.
A: By far. Because they had the best bartenders. I think the thing that I was really interested to see is so many brands showing up in a big way. What was curious is how many brands showed up, but then had staffing people or cater waiter-type bartenders making a drink for the brand. And they didn’t really know a lot about the drink or the brand. Talking to members of the trade who I respect their opinions, they all also said the best booths were the booths where it was bartenders who they know really well behind the booth making cocktails with that brand. The most successful one was Hendrick’s. And there was Shannon Mustipher, who’s written for us, but is also one of the most well known tiki mixologists.
J: Tropical drinks experts.
A: She has a Women Who Tiki group and it’s all really, really accomplished female bartenders. They tapped her to staff the booth. And so it was all these really well-known female bartenders, like the owner of Dead Rabbit. Yeah, just so many awesome people. That, I think, was just a draw. I think they had the deepest line the majority of the time.
J: But I thought that that was so smart because Shannon is a rum expert, but they had her at Hendrick’s. So they had really cool women who did a tiki activation for a gin brand, which felt really unexpected and really cool.
A: Totally. Some other brands had really cool things. But the biggest trend I noticed at BCB this year was twofold. One, there was just a ton of agave in all forms, including an agave bourbon. Joanna and I went to Sazerac and they have a brand, Devil’s River. For those who are unfamiliar, Sazerac owns a lot of different brands. But one of the distilleries they own that’s obviously probably the most celebrated bourbon distillery in the country right now, is Buffalo Trace because it makes Elijah Craig, Pappy, George T. Stagg, all that stuff. They also obviously have a lot of other brands. And one of the brands is Devil’s River. They say they bring it down to proof, and then they sweeten it with agave. On the label, it just says “Devil’s River Agave Bourbon,” and there’s a huge agave plant. It is unclear to me if Sazerac fully owns it or they’re just distributing it. I think we talked to the owner.
J: It seemed like he was the owner.
A: He was saying it’s his No. 1 seller.
J: It’s very, very popular. This is so obvious to me. It just seems like the most obvious thing you could do is put agave in your bourbon.
A: It was just sweeter, right? If you would have poured it over ice, I would have thought I was drinking a watered-down Old Fashioned. He said that they can’t keep it in stock.
J: What was the other one? The coffee one.
A: He had a coffee, too. But this one clearly was more popular. But then there were so many tequila brands, so many mezcal brands, more than I’ve ever seen at BCB before. And not just from the larger companies that obviously had their brands there, but everyone was there.
J: Also amari.
A: Tons of amari, like tons. Did all the brands choose to come to this one because they know it’s in New York and they know it’s a big market? Because there were brands that I had never seen before, and interestingly, brands I’d never seen before who clearly seem to have budgets to do some really nice build-outs. Which was really surprising because they’re brands I didn’t really know. And I’m like, “Oh, that’s a very nice booth that you built. That’s very well branded.” You can see who goes all out at these things. LVMH built this huge installation with four different bars that were themed by each one of their brands. Spirit of Gallo, the spirit side of Gallo as they’re calling themselves, had this massive build-out that when you walked into one of the rooms, they were really announcing themselves to the world as also a spirits company with all of their brands. It had the ones they own and the ones they import like Montenegro and Select Spritz and Diplomatico, but then also like New Amsterdam and that kind of stuff, which is really interesting. And then you had smaller brands who had their own one footprint. And then you had some trade organizations. It will be an interesting experience. Because I think Tales is less of a trade show. Tales of the Cocktail is more about the parties. People are there for this, and so yes, there are parties as well, but I do think it probably is a little bit easier for someone who’s trying to just discover new things to discover them because it’s all in one place. Maybe someone who didn’t realize that Gallo had such a huge spirits portfolio learned that for the first time this week. Or if you’ve never thought to use Hendrick’s in a tiki drink. I think those are the benefits of the show. But yes, we tried a lot of stuff there.
J: I think there were hundreds of booths.
A: Hundreds of booths. Besides that, for me this week, I went to Ernesto’s.
J: Yes. It’s a Spanish restaurant in NYC.
A: Yes, and I had their version of a Dirty Martini.
A: It’s called the Gilda-tini or whatever. For those that are familiar with tapas-style pinchos, the Gilda is always an anchovy, sweet pepper, and an olive. They do two of them on top of this Martini. And the Martini is gin and vermouth. And then the dirty is anchovy brine.
A: It was really good.
J: This sounds very similar to what I had at Nudibranch, with the same kind of combination and I think some of the tincture on top.
A: It was interesting. I’m not a Dirty Martini person. It’s almost like drinking salt water, in a lot of ways. But I think because it is so salty and funky, I drank it very slowly because it’s a lot, at least for me. It’s a lot of salt to take in in one drink. I thought it was a really interesting Martini. It’s a very spirit-heavy week just because of BCB and everything that’s in town. I’m looking forward to getting back to wine this weekend.
J: Well, speaking of spirits…
J: I’m going to jump into our topic for today. It’s actually a listener submitted question that we’re going to discuss. This is coming from Josh Colombo.
A: Hey, Josh, thanks, man. Always submit your questions, ya’ll.
J: Yes, please do at [email protected]. Today we’re talking about bourbon. Josh says, “Bourbon is obviously very popular these days. Its popularity seems to only be increasing.” He mentions that a number of major distilleries have announced expansions or have already expanded to keep up with this demand, seemingly. Josh wants to know, “Do you think all these distillery expansions can truly meet this growing demand? Do you think all these distilleries actually want to fully meet the demand, as it seems like some benefit greatly from the perception of luxury exclusivity? Do you guys have any thoughts on changes and trends in the spirits world that may cool the popularity of bourbon whiskey in the future?”
A: It’s a great question.
J: Awesome question.
A: For those who are unfamiliar, Beam, Buffalo Trace, and Maker’s —
Z: Heaven Hill.
A: They have all gone under huge multimillion, even billion dollar expansions. One would assume that could mean they’re doing that to be able to, in the case of Buffalo Trace, make more Stagg or Buffalo Trace. I’m curious what you both think first. We did a little research on this and asked some people.
J: Did some recon.
A: Some recon at BCB because this question came in. I have a little bit of intel here. But do you guys think that they would want to meet the demand? Because at some point, isn’t it actually kind of cool that everyone’s searching for their bottles?
J: Yeah, I think that these distilleries might try to meet demand. They’re doing these expansions. It seems to be that’s the reason why. But I think they ultimately won’t be able to. There’s some new data from IWSR that came out recently that by the end of 2022, whiskey will be bigger than vodka by volume in the United States. It’s clearly growing and continues to; it’s not slowing down, like Zach mentioned. But I think that especially with these bigger major distillers that we’re talking about and the more coveted brands, they will never compromise the integrity of their liquid just to meet demand. I think it’s because they don’t have to. Maybe on the lower end in the less premium space, they will make more and try to meet the demand. But I think we’ve just seen that people are too willing to pay well beyond MSRP and to hunt for these bottles for a shortage to really affect the bottom line for any of these major distillers.
A: Yeah, I think you’re very right there. What do you think, Zach?
Z: What I would say is that where the risk to some of these producers would lie is not so much suddenly diluting the market at the top. I don’t think they’re going to do that for the reasons Joanna stated. And also the more obvious reason that it’s not in their best interests. They obviously may not be perfectly served by the current state of play where old bourbon is hard to find. We’re running into this problem where the stuff that people really want was made in very minuscule quantities 20 years ago. As bourbon started picking up and people started producing more and there was more money flowing into the industry, we’re still a ways away from those bourbons that were made in the early 2010s hitting the market in that luxury category. But what these places want to avoid is some of what you saw happen in that period in early to mid-2010s, when the shortage hit all of bourbon. It wasn’t just the premium stuff. It was lower-end stuff where there just wasn’t enough production of your basic level Maker’s Mark. And there’s a reason why Maker’s had this whole kerfuffle about lowering the proof, because it was seen as the only way they could meet demand. It was to essentially stretch it a little bit and there was a bunch of pushback and they eventually, I think, walked away from that idea. But what these places don’t want to do is cede market share to one another because they can’t meet market demand. That’s, I think, much more concentrated in the $20 to $30 bottles than it is at the $150 bottles.
A: First of all, I just want to say something. I love the word kerfuffle. It’s just such a good word.
Z: It’s fun to say.
A: Anyways, what you’re both saying is really on point here. What I think is hard to predict, though, is what of these core lower brands or entry-level brands will ultimately stay entry level, especially with a brand like Buffalo Trace. The fact that Buffalo Trace Bourbon, which for the longest time even until a few years ago was still in a $20 price range, is now on allocation in places because people can’t find Blanton’s and Weller is insane. I don’t think Buffalo Trace ever expected that to happen. But again, I’m not sure they’re so upset about it. And I think that same thing could be said for Heaven Hill. Heaven Hill sort of prides themselves on always being the economical distillery. They have Evan Williams, they have Elijah Craig. Those are really easy price points. But look, Larceny, which is one of theirs, has continued to gain accolades from publications like ours, etc. And it’s now harder and harder and harder to find because people are realizing it’s really good juice and they’re willing to pay higher for it. then that becomes allocated and then the prices go up. From the conversations we had, I think these huge expansions are being misinterpreted by most American consumers. We think these expansions are meant to meet the demand in the United States, and they’re not.
J: You think it’s global?
A: It’s global. They are now seeing this is their time to go global. This is their time to expand into the rest of the world. Everyone in the U.S. — while pop culture, while culture writ large — is talking about bourbon. This is their chance to make taters in France.
J: Well, whiskey is almost 25 percent of global spirits volume in 2021.
A: They want to go even more global with these brands where Blanton’s, in certain markets in Europe, is not heavily allocated. You can still find it in certain places, right? It’s more expensive than in the U.S., obviously. But they want to start taking these brands around the world and having more liquid to be around the world. Because, again, that also is a nice hedge against the American market. If the bourbon takes off in France, Great Britain —
A: China, etc., then a small dip can be weathered in the United States. If all their eggs are in the United States basket, then all of a sudden, let’s say five, six years now, all the taters move on to collecting agave, they could see a dip and they want to be prepared for that. Because they have got screwed in the past. The only major market that kept high-end bourbon alive during the massive downturn of the ’70s and ’80s was Japan. That’s not a huge market, but they were the ones buying the really high-end bourbon that was being made at the time, because there was an appreciation in Japan for whiskey and cocktail culture in general and Scotch. So I think that’s more of what’s happening here. Yes, to Zach’s point, to keel a demand from whatever they would consider to be their entry level liquid, but not to make sure that it’s going to be easier to find Blanton’s or Stagg or some of these other bottles. As we said, it is a benefit. I will say this from our experience at BCB. Sazerac had a huge booth, and Sazerac doesn’t just sell Buffalo Trace. They sell vodka, they sell whiskeys from India, gins from South Africa.
J: Rhum agricole.
A: Oh, God, that rhum agricole burned my face off. It was 70 percent alcohol, Zach.
J: Yeah, 72 percent.
A: It was insane. But it’s so interesting what they do, even with the trade. What they say to you as you’re coming by the booth, “We’ve got a bottle of Stagg here behind the booth. You take some other stuff, we’ll give you a pour of Stagg.” That’s a huge benefit. Everyone has said that companies like Sazerac, who have lots of other liquid, have used this to their advantage. Got to buy a lot of X liquid to get a few of Y. I don’t see why they would ever give that sort of model up. It’s too beneficial for them. If it was so easy to get Weller 12 or something, then they would not be able to get you to buy a bunch of their vodka, and they need you to also buy a bunch of their vodka.
J: They claim that’s not true.
A: Yeah, I don’t believe it. Do you believe it?
J: Well, in our Wheatley vodka piece that Aaron Goldfarb wrote.
A: They claim that, I know. But every single retailer will tell you differently. Every retailer will be like, “Yeah, I buy a bunch of Wheatley and all of a sudden I get a few bottles of Stagg, Pappy, and some Eagle Rare and here’s how I get it. If I didn’t buy a lot of Wheatley, I don’t think I’d get as easy access to the other stuff.” I mean, come on. It’s just how economics works, right? You gotta buy this to get that. So I don’t know. But on the other hand, do we think there’s anything that will slow the craze down? That’s what I’m more interested in. The first question of, is this being done to keep with demand? I think we’ve pretty much answered it. I don’t think that it is in the United States. I think it’s for global and for the entry-level bourbons.
J: Well, also mention that they skipped a year of production.
A: Right. They didn’t even produce George T. Stagg. They claimed it’s because it wasn’t up to their standards, but I think it’s because they might have had too much of it and they’re like, “Let’s hold some back to make demand even higher.” Who knows? Again, just an assumption. Don’t come for me, Sazerac. But I’m curious, do either of you think there’s anything that could slow this massive appeal down?
J: I mean, agave spirits. back to our IWSR data, tequila’s pacing third behind vodka and whiskey right now. It’s growing at a faster rate and by the end of 2022, tequila is predicted to be more valuable than whiskey in the U.S. But then over the next five years, tequila is forecasted to grow 67 percent with the ultra-premium segment seeing the highest rates of forecast growth.
A: So then will it ultimately leapfrog whiskey?
J: I think so. I think that’s what they’re saying.
Z: I think it’s important in this context to note that the entire spirits category is also growing really rapidly. I think it’s possible that whiskey’s reign at the top of the heap might be short-lived. As we’re talking about here, agave spirits or tequila specifically might pass it. But I still think that it’s hard to see in the medium term anything like a real downturn in the amount of bourbon that people are consuming. In terms of absolute quantity, I think it’s going to continue to grow. One of the interesting things is, is there significant either consolidation or shuffling of some of these distilleries? There has already been a fair bit of consolidation in bourbon, but you still have a decent number of different — not always independent — separately owned bourbon distilleries. But it would not shock me to see consolidation as the category continues to grow, in part maybe to allow for more market penetration in other countries. Again, I think Adam is very right to point that out. These companies are not ignoring the United States as a market, obviously; it’s their most important market. But they’re seeing a lot of potential in the world. And penetrating some of those global markets might be tricky for some of these producers that have really been U.S. focused until quite recently.
A: Yeah, I think that’s true.
Z: I don’t know if that will affect growth. It just is a thing to think about.
A: The thing that’s always been so interesting to me about all of this, and we’ve talked about this a bunch, is that what is popular when we talk about whiskey is bourbon. The only thing I wonder is like, do we think we will ever see the resurgence of Scotch? The flavor profiles are just so different. Will we see people who immediately run to Scotch as their next spirit because they just love whiskey? Or on the other hand, are they all going to move to añejos and extra añejos, which are big and rounded and sweet because of the agave plant? Once the tequila gets aged, it creates a lot of those flavor profiles that people like in bourbon that it doesn’t have when it’s blanco. I’d be really curious to totally dig into what’s happening with tequila and is the growth coming from the blanco? All the agave aficionados and the bartenders, etc., the people that are pushing agave are, of course, saying that you judge an agave in a mezcal by the blanco. It’s the purest expression. It’s how the plant is supposed to taste, yadda, yadda, yadda. But if you look at pieces like Aaron has written for us about what the taters are collecting, the people who are the first big bourbon people —
J: The next unicorns.
A: It’s 1942, that’s an añejo. They’re going after these aged, rounder, richer tequilas. When I was talking to PÀTRON, they were saying it as well. They’re seeing growth among bordejos and things like that. They’re very rich añejos that’s aged in Bordeaux barrels. Because people really like those flavor profiles. I don’t know where that will happen, but I feel like it’s much more likely that it’ll go to an añejo than it will to a Scotch.
Z: Maybe you’re not seeing single malt, because I think it has such a clear identity of its own. But you are seeing whiskey the world over getting bourbon-ified, for lack of a better word. And in spirits generally. You’re seeing it in rum, you’re seeing it in Cognac and Armagnac, and you’re seeing it with whiskeys made in other places or even other American whiskeys that are not bourbon. The influence of new oak is growing in those categories because the market, both in the U.S. and the world over, has shown a tremendous thirst for that flavor profile. Tequila is the most obvious and the biggest category. But again, I think there are these other spirits categories, too, that are very clearly producers who are like, “We want our X to taste as much like bourbon as we can while still legally being able to call it whatever the thing it actually is.”
J: Yeah, I had a barrel-aged gin at BCB.
A: Me too.
J: It was very close to bourbon.
A: We talked about this last week with the Top 50 Bars. Joanna, you brought this up. There are lot’s issues to discuss — also, thanks for all the reactions from the bartenders in the community — but one issue you brought up is that it makes it harder to get into. Do you guys think that there might just be a backlash from consumers who are like, “I’m just sick of how hard it is to find some of this stuff?” At some point this becomes the same backlash we saw against some of the really high-end wines where consumers are like, “You know what, f*ck it. I’m never going to have DRC. I can’t. I’m never going to have half of these wines everyone talks about, so I’m just going to go drink something really beautiful, like Chenin from the Loire.” I guess I could potentially see that. Right now there are definitely bottles that people are searching for from all the big distillers. But let’s be totally honest here, the one distiller that has all the bottles for the most part is Buffalo Trace. Basically, anything they put out becomes allocated and people want it. Maker’s has a few offerings, but not like crazy. Beam has a few offerings. Booker’s and Baker’s does. But besides that, all their other stuff is still in stock. The same with Heaven Hill. I don’t know. If all of a sudden it was really hard to find Elijah Craig or Evan Williams Single Barrel and it was really pricey, I could see people getting really over it all.
Z: I think that’s another reason you see these producers in other categories looking to make products that would be compelling to bourbon collectors. Because they might be able to do it at a price point that is more agreeable to a collector who’s not incredibly wealthy. I also think that it could be like wine, as you described, Adam. It’s not so much some of these collectors shifting their mindset, but it’s a generational change. And in the same way that people of our generation and younger looked at those wines, whether they were high-end Burgundy or Bordeaux or whatever, we just can never try these wines unless our parents have it.
J: Our parents have it, yeah.
Z: Yeah, we’re never going to get to drink it. So why would that be where we focus? I think you could see people younger than us say, “Why do I give a sh*t about super-premium bourbon? I can’t drink it. I can’t find it. No one has it. Maybe my uncle has a dusty bottle of George T. Stagg, but that’s my only shot at it. I’m going to get into some other spirit. I’m going to get into something that feels not only more affordable to me, but in a way has authenticity because it’s not so expensive.” And that could be the other thing for bourbon that’s at the high level. But I think the difference with bourbon versus some of these wines is that all of these producers are going to have abundant, affordable offerings. I’m sure you heard this a million times, Adam, and probably you too, Joanna. You got pitched as a novice drinker on Nebbiolo as baby Barolo.
Z: You’re going to get pitched whatever as baby Blanton’s or something like that. That’s the way these producers are going to approach this. And I think the flavor appeal of bourbon is pretty eternal. I don’t think it’s going away, but it’s possible that the eye of the collector moves on to something that people can find. Or they can feel like they’re getting more in on the ground floor of, I don’t know.
J: I think there will always be a group of people who will care to hunt for those.
J: Right. The taters, of course.
Z: You might like that word more than kerfuffle.
A: It’s just so funny that they call themselves taters.
J: I don’t think they call themselves taters. I think we call them that.
Z: You and Aaron are the only people, actually.
A: The taters. I think Reddit does, too.
J: Yeah. I think this could be a good opportunity for smaller craft bourbon brands and local brands.
A: They have to figure out how to finally make it well.
J: Exactly. We’ve talked about this before. Some of these brands are actually figuring it out. They’re not not great anymore. And it could be an opportunity for them to capture some of this thirsty audience who’s not finding the Buffalo Trace so readily anymore.
A: Wilderness Trail is the best example of this, right? It’s a craft brand that figured out how to make amazing bourbon pretty quickly. Its liquid is already on allocation.
J: Nobody owns them, right?
A: No, they’re totally independent. I know people who are buying barrel picks from them and stuff already and they’re pretty young but figured it out and are making really, really great bourbon. I’m sure someone will buy them soon. That’s a great point, as long as you can figure it out. And then they’ll be some of the craft distillers that maybe are based in NYC, maybe Brooklyn. They just never figured it out.
Z: Shots fired right at the end of the podcast.
A: You don’t know which one I’m talking about.
Z: [email protected], you can send your hate mail.
A: Let me know.
J: Or [email protected].
Z: Send it to the podcast email.
A: Zach wants to know who came for me. All right, I’ll talk to you both Friday.
J: Talk to you Friday.
Z: Sounds great.
Thanks so much for listening to the “VinePair Podcast.” If you love this show as much as we love making it, please leave us a rating or review on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever it is you get your podcasts. It really helps everyone else discover the show.
Now for the credits. VinePair is produced and recorded in New York City and Seattle, Washington, by myself and Zach Geballe, who does all the editing and loves to get the credit. Also, I would love to give a special shout-out to my VinePair co-founder, Josh Malin, for helping make all of this possible, and also to Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director, who is additionally a producer on the show. I also want to, of course, thank every other member of the VinePair team, who are instrumental in all of the ideas that go into making the show every week. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you again.
Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity.