View Full Version : Export Only Sir

06-02-2000, 21:07
After goin on 7 tours, I'm sick of the lame excuses given for why so many higher proof bourbons are "export only" and American's can't get their paws on them, unless of course you go to Japan and fork out $100+ for them.

Why? Why aren't these available, even in small quantities? There simply must be a thorough answer to this question. And not the seemingly naive and innocent "it's the marketing people" reply that the tour guides gave me this week. There are reasons behind it... so what are they?

06-05-2000, 18:00
It is a marketing decision as to what will sell and how profitable it will be if it is sold. If they don't feel they can get the full profit in the US that they can get in, say, Japan, they won't sell it here for a lower price for fear that "gray market" exporters will simply buy it here, at the lower retail price, and ship it to Japan where they make the profit instead of the manufacturer. That is why I.W. Harper was off the market in the US for so many years. Also, in some cases, it is simply the belief that the US market won't support sufficient volume to make distribution worthwhile. Marketers generally are interested in introducing products that will reach new consumers or become add on purchases for existing consumers. If they think a certain product will merely canibalize their existing line, they aren't interested in it.

You can certainly argue that these decisions are wrongly made, that there is a pent up US market for better and better bourbons, but that is how the decisions are made.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

06-05-2000, 18:23
Then why not sell a few individual bottles at the distillery? Is that in violation of some law or agreement? They already sell the non-export bottles there.

So, as I'm in the gift shop at Labrot&Graham, their President's Choice Woodford Reserve is just sitting there - several bottles in fact, yet not for Americans to buy. The same goes for Four Roses - those beautiful single barrel Four Roses bottlings are in the glass case, yet... nope, can't buy it pal...

I can understand why it might not pay to bother with distributing some of these items. Fine. But why not sell it to enthusiasts who take the time to vacation in Kentucky just to go to distilleries and who are dying to buy them? I have a hard time understanding the secrecy and prohibition from purchasing these items. These aren't top secret items, they're just bottles of bourbon.

Maybe it's not so much the fact that they are export only items. It's also that the distillery people (tour guides) rub it in and make them seem so mysterious, so elusive, that if you're ever lucky enough then maybe one day, just one day you too could be the proud owner of that bourbon that's sitting there in that case that we won't sell to you.

06-07-2000, 08:50
The law that allows whiskey makers to sell their products at the distillery is relatively new and may be somewhat restrictive. It may be that they can only sell one product, or only a limited number.

Don't blame the distilleries entirely. The sale of liquor is highly regulated by both the state and federal governments. The state rules especially can be very capricious.

They may also have exclusive contracts with the distributors for whom those products were created that restrict them from selling them elsewhere.

Bottom line, the distilleries have nothing to gain by making their products hard to get. They would, I'm sure, be happy to sell everything to everybody, but that isn't always possible. Generally, I don't think the distilleries are the bad guys here.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)