View Full Version : Who makes the decisions about bourbon distribution?
It frequently comes up here in our discussions that certain parts of the country will get good distribution of top shelf whiskey and other parts will not. We all know that Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia get anything made. But why Oregon say but not Ohio when one is much closer to the "bourbon belt"? How are these decisions made? I realize some of it is a question of quantity...if you only produce so much, you are going to ship to fewer places. Some states are "control" states where these decisions are wholly or in part decided by state agencies. Yet how and why do the distilleries decide where to distribute? It is a Catch-22...they may not distribute because it may not sell well, but it may not sell well because it is not readily available. Chuck, can you help us out here on how things end up on the shelf?
I also would like to hear Chuck's (and the other experts') comments on this topic, but I can tell you part of the distribution decisionmaking (at least on the state's end) is done by the ABC. About a year ago I was purusing one of the state ABC websites (Pennsylvania I believe!?) and there was a big list of prospective new products. Next to each bottling were notes on why or why not the product would be sold. Most of it was to the effect of "product too similar to such-and-such" or "not enough market".
It's true that Tennessee is a well-stocked state, but it's not true that we get "anything made". Much to my personal chagrin, AAA 10yo is an example (there are a scattered few bottles of old stock left out there, but no new ones coming in). Four Roses blended whiskey also comes to mind (but not to my local liquor store). Weller 12 is available only in 1.75L size. Other items are as tightly allocated here as they are in other places. I certainly wish we got "anything made", but it ain't so.
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