The WSJ’s Bourbon Mania & the global demand for booze

Pappy Van Winkle
Old Pappy Van Winkle’s bourbon fetches a pretty penny these days…

In a sign of growing interest in bourbon and in quality spirits generally, Josh Ozersky writes in the Wall Street Journal about the mania that certain whiskey brands have caused in the US. It’s well-worth a read. He writes that as demand for artisanal products has exploded, brands like Pappy Van Winkle — spurred on by ringing endorsements from celebrity chefs — are increasingly hard to find. And they are increasingly expensive.

What will it be like in the future, as more and more consumers turn on to the good stuff that bartenders have had all to themselves for so long? Hopefully governments can get out of the way of new distilleries starting up, so that the growth in craft brewing is mirrored by a growth in craft distilling. Because, as more consumers come onto the global booze market in China, India, Russia and Brazil, demand is only going to increase and bottles become more scarce.

In 2011, Asia accounted for 1/3rd of global Cognac demand — China’s demand alone was growing at 20 per cent a year. Chinese demand for Bordeaux has grown and seen prices rise,

Bourbon for now seems to be in a smaller-scale, hipster-driven boom. But can the high prices — some bottles of Pappy fetching $700, according to Ozersky — ever be worthwhile paying? Well, Ozersky posed that question, too, to Julian Van Winkle. He writes:

I asked Julian Van Winkle what he thought. The king of bourbon laughed. “If they’re dumb enough to pay that much,” he said, “that’s their prerogative.”



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