If you have noticed some of your favorite bourbons are not as plentiful as they once were, know there is a reason for it. The rumors are true—there is a definite bourbon shortage in America. The dearth of our native spirit has been caused by a sudden resurgence in demand for a whiskey that takes at least four years to mature, with some of the more desirable brands ranging from nine to 23 years old, while the barrel aging cannot be rushed.
In addition, the craft-cocktail movement, coupled with a quest among serious drinkers for something other than single malts and vodkas, has accelerated the national thirst for bourbon. These factors have caught the distillers off guard. But there is hope, thanks to the rise in premium cask-strength bourbons—that is, whiskeys bottled straight from the barrel that have not been cut or reduced in alcoholic strength by adding water.
Distillers and many consumers favor cask-strength spirits because the undiluted whiskeys are thought to provide a fuller spectrum of flavors. However, no one sips a 123-proof, cask-strength spirit on a regular basis—at least not without adding ice. And by cutting it with branch water, you not only control the proof, you can stretch that bottle of cask-strength bourbon to compensate for whiskeys currently in short supply.
Here are six premium cask-strength whiskeys that are well worth the search.