Whisky Magazine Issue 128
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The wider the range, the harder to source
At the end of April, after almost three months of waiting, Flavien Desoblin received three bottles each of Hibiki 12 and 17 Years Old at Brandy Library, his 11 Years Old Tribeca bar. His other bar, Copper and Oak, an intimate space in the East Village that opened last year, received the same, plus six bottles of Yamazaki 12 and three of Hakushu 18 Years Old.
“It's crazy. Three bottles of each – that's insanity. Ten years ago, there was no problem getting Yamazaki 12 or 18 Years Old. For three months when we couldn't get Hibiki or Yamazaki, I was off Hibiki 12 Years Old for a week. The month prior I took advantage of monthly allocation of each, which kept me running for three months. But I was finally out of stock of Yamazaki 18 and 12 and Hibiki 12 Years Old. All I got was embarrassment,” he said.
When the Brandy Library opened in 2004, nobody was talking about Japanese whisky, let alone seeking out Yamazaki the way a comic book collector hunts down a Marvel Amazing Fantasy #15, Spiderman's debut. (For that matter, nobody was talking about rye whiskey, either.) But then things changed. Big time. Over the past five years, jaw-dropping stats made headlines: Irish whiskey doubled year upon year for eight years; rye whiskey, once an afterthought, was skyrocketing; Bourbon producers can't keep up. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the US, sales of super-premium American whiskies grew 120 per cent in volume over ten years. Brand loyalty became a thing of t...