Here’s how it used to work. It would start as an endurance challenge. Cover the most ground in the shortest period of time and hope to stumble across something great. Over time, you would identify the subset of stores that have the good stuff and narrow your search to a few select spots. It was still a game of chance, but the odds went up because you weren’t wasting time at stores that didn’t carry allocated bourbon. You would start visiting these high-value stores every few days or weeks, scanning the shelves for new product. Eventually, some of the managers would recognize you, learn your name, and build a relationship with you. Once the relationship formed, you would start getting tips on new releases and stop visiting the stores where you weren’t known. In the end, you would settle on a few key stores to support and buy all of your liquor, beer, and wine from those supportive merchants. In exchange for being friendly and spending hundreds of dollars a year, you would get a few prize bottles of whiskey and a lot of great tips during bourbon season.
That was before the bourbon boom.
Now there’s a herd of cash-waving whiskey fanatics stomping all over your hunting grounds and the game has changed. With each passing bourbon season, relationships are earning fewer and fewer bottles. Raffles are replacing handshakes, waiting lists are replacing special orders, and distributor allocation strategies are pushing mom & pop shops out of the distribution chain. Hunters who used to get a whole set of BTAC are lucky to leave with a bottle of Blanton’s.
Fear not! We’re assembling a ton of wisdom, tips, and tricks to help you adjust your strategies to compete in the current whiskey-crazed market. Right now, it’s only one story, but this list will be updated frequently, so check back often to hone your skills!
1. How to Avoid Buying Bad Bourbon – Knowing what not to buy is just as important as knowing what to buy. Here’s a good technique to keep cash in your wallet and great liquor on your shelves.