“Twenty years ago we weren’t all that busy and we certainly are busy today,” said Chris Morris, the Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve in Kentucky. “We’re spreading across more than 40 different countries right now.”
The resurgence of cocktails has led to a 315-percent spike in
Kentucky bourbon production since 1999. The industry, however, is
struggling to keep up. Whiskey needs a few years to age and many
distilleries didn’t anticipate today’s demand.
For example, the Buffalo Trace Distillery is suffering from a
shortage. Freddie Johnson said the company’s high end brands, like
Pappy Van Winkle, need more than 20 years to age.
“The bourbon aging in the warehouse right now is really for the
bourbon of tomorrow and the bourbons that were enjoying today is the
bourbon of a generation before,” said Johnson.
Because there is not enough Pappy to meet demand, some online liquor
stores are re-selling bottles for 10 times their retail value.
“We believe the demand for bourbon is not going away,” said Johnson.
That’s why many distilleries are expanding. Buffalo Trace expects to
double capacity within the next eight years while Woodford Reserve just
finished a large expansion project. “We have more equipment, more teammates making more whiskey,” said Morris.
The bourbon boom has created an economic ripple effect in Kentucky.
Tourism is up as more people visit Kentuckys famous bourbon trail and
farmers have more than doubled their growth of corn and rye which are
used in bourbons.