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Issue 121 - USA Whiskey Today

Whisky Magazine Issue 121
July 2014


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USA Whiskey Today

A lowdown on the state of the industry

There was mutiny last summer when Maker's Mark announced that they would lower the proof of the bourbon. Beam Global, which owns the iconic brand, revealed that they were running short on stock, and to maintain the supply, they would cut the product from 45% ABV to 42% ABV.

The plan got scrapped in the end, as Maker's drinkers pronounced it unacceptable. Meantime, many wondered if it was all merely a public relations stunt. But this is just one example that demonstrates just how hot of a commodity American whiskey has become.

Where once bourbon was relegated to the bottom shelf of the whisky aisle and considered the domain of cowboys and farmers, it currently appears on the shelves in posh bars right next to prized single malts. In fact, in the past five years, a number of lively bars have opened in trend-setting areas, like Brooklyn and San Francisco, dedicated exclusively to American whiskey. An increasing number of brands are releasing limited edition bottlings. Allocation has become common. Cult followings have developed around a few costly whiskies, making them harder to find than the Loch Ness Monster.

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a trade organization, over 18 million 9 litre cases of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey were sold in the US in 2013, generating over $2.4 billion in revenue for distillers. Super-premium spirits led the march, growing 87% by volume from 2003 to 2013 and 104% in revenue in that time.

Many chalk ...

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