Welcome to Part 2 of our 4-part series exploring the question, "Is Bourbon Broken?". Make sure you read Part 1 – The Consumer Problem before proceeding with Part 2, as the posts are meant to be read in sequential order.
If you really have to have that bottle, you’re forced to buy it on the secondary market. That is when you are at the mercy of the hype train. People are paying 4-8x retail for $30 bottles? Are you kidding me? That’s insane to me.
There is so much value on the shelves if you’re actually a bourbon drinker. If you’re just bunkering bottles because bourbon is “hot” right now or hoarding shelf queens to show off to your friends and neighbors, you’re also part of the problem. It’s great that you have 15 unopened bottles of Blanton’s on the shelf in your office, but how many (if any) do you have that are opened? Do you actually enjoy drinking it or are you just collecting bottles so you can flex online to a bunch of strangers?
You don’t get to complain that you had to pay $400+ for your bottle of Col. Taylor Barrel Proof. If you stop feeding the secondary market, things will come back to normal. I’d like to think that eventually production will catch up a bit and some of the bottles that have been so scarce for the past 5-10 years will start to repopulate shelves. But if we keep paying up on the secondary, the flippers will always be a few steps ahead of you. There are always people that will skirt the rules and try to game the system. For Example, this past fall, there was a guy that was paying the delivery driver of a local grocery store chain to tip him off as to when the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon shipment was being delivered at each store. This individual ended up with multiple bottles and immediately ended up on the secondary market. As long as people keep spending up on the secondary, this type of behavior will continue to proliferate.
"If you think I’m wrong, how many of you would pass on a bottle of Blanton’s for $100 if you walked into your local store tomorrow?"The other downside to the secondary market is that it shows the distiller’s just how much you’re willing to pay for that bottle. How long is it going to be before Buffalo Trace says “Hell, if all of these people are paying $120-$150 for a bottle of Blanton’s or Elmer T. Lee, why don’t we just double what we charge and raise the MSRP?” They would double their revenue for the brand without increasing production overnight. It has already happened with the MSRP of Old Weller Antique and McKenna 10 yr BiB and you still can’t find those on store shelves. If you think I’m wrong, how many of you would pass on a bottle of Blanton’s for $100 if you walked into your local store tomorrow?