God save the Scotch! © Rob Brewer/Flickr

God save the Scotch!

Lions and tigers and Scotch shortages, oh my! Don't panic, but a global shortage of aged whiskey is on the way. 

by 08 March 2016

Whisky is not just a drink your grandfather has after dinner anymore. Now that whiskey sales have been on the rise and have become the drink of choice among the advertising fiends of Mad Men, stock of single-malt Scotch is rapidly depleting. This is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill.

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Distilleries are having a difficult time keeping up with demand since by law, Scotch is required to age three years before it can be put on the shelf, and the better Scotch is usually aged 10 to 15 years. Older bottles, such as Pappy Van Winkle 15, normally selling at $47 went all the way up to $982 a bottle in 2014.

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Wood shortages have also caused problems for Scotch. Since whisky must mature in a new cask, Scotch companies happily buy the used cast. Now with the shortages, some whisky companies have asked for regulation changes to allow Tennessee whisky barrels to be used more than once, which puts the Scotch industry in a pickle. As the drink gets more and more popular, it becomes harder for Scotch producers to gage how much to make according to how much demand they predict.

macallan© Andy One/flickr.com

Don’t fear, Scotch companies are not going to go down without a fight. Brands such as Macallan are creating “ageless malts” which indicate no age on the bottle and assume a three year aging process. Macallan is also planning on running its distilleries 24/7 as well as opening a new distillery in 2018.

Although Scotch lovers are in a tizzy, some people are making money off of the shortage. Rickesh Kishnani started the first whisky investment fund and according to the Investment Grade Scotch Whisky Index, whisky is blowing other assets away in auction price increases.