Buying the Bourbon Bull

We’re just hours away from a 3-day weekend. So why not treat yourself to a bourbon on the rocks?

Apparently, that’s what everyone else is doing…

Bourbon sales have gone through the roof. In order to meet sales demands, one label is doing the unthinkable. Just this week, Maker’s Mark announced it will water down its bourbon from 90 proof to 84 proof in order to meet sales demands.

Forbes says the decision could be “brand suicide” for Maker’s Mark, which is owned by Beam Inc. But if you look beyond the bad publicity, you’ll see a major trend developing in the beverage sector…

Per Capita Beer Consumption

Liquor consumption is quickly gaining on beer — which has found itself in a steady downtrend since 2008. Leading the way is bourbon, accounting for 35% of all domestic spirit sales, according to The Atlantic. But overseas demand is the real kicker. Bourbon is currently experiencing triple-digit sales growth outside the US. Japan, Australia and even emerging markets are becoming major growth hotbeds for this distinctly American beverage.

I suspect bourbon shortages and rising prices will become the norm. You can’t outsource bourbon production (it’s not bourbon unless it’s made in the States). And there’s no way to quickly increase supply (bourbon has to age in barrels before it can be bottled and sold).

Then there’s beer. Microbrews have gained in popularity recently, yet the market feels saturated. Bigger brands are seeing their market shares dwindle as consumer preferences evolve…

The decision here is obvious:

Sell beer. Buy bourbon.

Greg Guenthner
for The Daily Reckoning