Everyone Panic: We’re in a 15-Year Scotch Drought

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By Justine Sterling Posted March 08, 2016

Bad news for Scotch lovers: Whiskey supplies are drying up and won’t be replenished for ten to fifteen years.

Over the past decade, single malt sales have skyrocketed in America, tripling between 2002 and 2015 according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Asia has developed quite a taste as well. It now accounts for one-fifth of all Scotch exports, about a quarter of a billion bottles a year. It’s a bittersweet boon for distilleries, which are enjoying the profits but running out of the purposefully limited product.

According to CNN Money, Scotch distilleries are working to ramp up production and make more of their highly sought after spirits but, as any single malt drinker knows, good whiskey takes time. Legally, all Scotch needs to be aged at least three years—but is often mellow for much longer in order to achieve better, more complex flavors and a higher price tag. So, the shortage could last another ten to fifteen years.

While we wait for the distilleries to catch up with the demand, expect to see placeholder blends from companies like Macallan and Highland Park that don’t include ages on the labels, as well as a serious spike in older Scotch prices. CNN Money cites Black Bowmore’s 30-year offering, which went for $110 in 1994 and now fetches $7,000 at auction. Single malt drinkers unwilling to spend such an amount should try expanding their sipping horizons to things like ultra-luxe barrel-aged tequila, older rums or bourbon.

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