An Existential Threat To Civilization

Makers Mark-2365-2

To think that I have lived to see the end times for civilization. On top of the coming bourbon shortage caused by an increase in demand among hipsters, there now appears to be a shortage of white oak for barrels.

Barrels are important, because the “rules” of bourbon say that it can only be aged in new, charred oak barrels. The barrels cannot be reused (and in fact are sold to whiskey disillers). It’s ageing in the barrels that give bourbon its characteristic color and flavor. From the article:

Bourbon production, in response to the growing craze over Kentucky-distilled whiskey, jumped more than 70 percent between 2009 and 2013, according to data from the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

And that’s actually a bit of a problem. Bourbon barrel production is a particular process, which requires the use of only higher quality wood. As it happens, that fancier wood isn’t as easy to come by.

“Very little of the wood out there is fit to be used for bourbon barrels,” said Jeff Stringer, a professor at the University of Kentucky who studies hardwood silviculture and forestry. “Only a small fraction of stave logs are high enough quality. That makes it really hard for the wood industry to adjust.”

Lay in a good stock now, gentlemen, until the hipsters move on to the next trendy drink.

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