May 29, 2014 by Bourbon Empire
The world is apparently ending, judging by the tone of recent news reports of the whiskey shortage. An apocalypse looms, and it’s one of zombies lumbering through liquor stores, clutching at the cobwebs lining the shelves where whiskey once sat.
Racing to my local store to stock up, I expected chaos. What I found was bourbon. And rye. And scotch. And Irish whiskey. Some of the bottles had dust on them. No shortage.
Well, maybe a tiny bit of a shortage. With demand outstripping supply for a few scattered brands (especially those on allocation), there are temporary outages of certain old favorites. The solution in this case is to simply buy one of the bajillion other whiskey brands that are no doubt available and just as delicious.
In whiskey’s long history, the “shortage” claim occasionally rears its head. It’s a great way for the industry to grab attention, and it’s free advertising when the media chases after the story.
Only, in the past, the cries of “shortage” were occasionally questioned. During one “shortage” during WWII, reporters asked for numbers, only to discover that the industry was possibly misrepresenting its figures to skirt wartime rationing measures. The motive: bigger profits once the rationing restrictions were lifted. The “shortage” cries were so well orchestrated that, during the ensuing Senate investigation, words like “Sherman Antitrust Act” and “violation” were thrown around.
Not that this “shortage” comes anywhere near that “shortage,” but still, the lesson of taking things at face value here still applies (There were shortages during WWII, but there was also nuance that needed explaining). It would be nice to see some context around these stories, aside from the excellent explaining provided by vigilant bloggers like Chuck Cowdery.
Instead, the stories covering this issue have largely added to the “fake panic” (no shortage of that). As overexuberance mounts, we can all look forward to the pricing arms race that will inevitably drive up the price tags of the bounty of whiskey that has been sitting on store shelves all along. Then we’ll all be facing a “shortage” of cash in our wallets.