Update: This story was also featured on NPR’s The Salt!
Chances are you have heard a lot of speculation as to whether a bourbon bust is right around the corner. We are definitely in a bourbon boom right now, and Kentucky is taking center stage. The question is what position we are at on the upward trajectory currently – bottom, middle, or top. Most folks, including me, believe we are somewhere in the middle. Translation: we are going to enjoy another 10-15 years of this bourbon boom before things start to cool off. The bourbon sky is not falling, at least not yet.
But what’s more important here is that there will be an outside market for bourbon when it cools off at home, so most producers need not worry. In the 1980s and early 1990s Japan was the sustaining force for the Kentucky Bourbon Industry. Today we are seeing other foreign markets open up, and as long as distilleries do their best to continue to win over consumers in these foreign markets we won’t need to worry so much about the market collapsing as we will about it shifting to another geographic location.
One thing is for certain: the Kentucky Bourbon Industry has been through all this before. It’s an industry that was built to last. A little market fluctuation isn’t going to destroy it.
Thank you to Ashlie Stevens of WFPL for letting me talk about the history of bourbon booms and busts. Give her story a listen below!