To kick things off, it’s probably best I explain my “good old days of whiskey” mantra. It’s easy to think that good old days are in fact days gone by, but hear me out. I’ll refer to bourbon specifically in this post, but I believe this to be true for all American whiskey (and this should be read in that context). Let’s take a cursory look through bourbon’s [relatively recent] past to understand a bit more.
It’s not uncommon for “the good old days” to be used in a more literal sense of the days that no longer exist. I’m with you. This makes sense in most cases. That being said, the bygone days of bourbon aren’t necessarily reflective of it’s current popularity. In fact, bourbon’s rocky history serves only to bolster my opinion of these being the good old days.
The glut-era of bourbon is something well known to brands, distilleries, and folks who identify as enthusiasts in the whiskey world. During the dark days of bourbon (beginning in the 1970’s) there was a shift in supply and demand that, sadly, left distillers and producers with more product than they could realistically sell for a profit.
In some sense I could see how this may–again–lead a bourbon drinker to think that the old days were–in some ways–better, due to the fact that so many brands were more or less forced to put their older stocks into more common offerings.
This practice is, of course, in stark comparison to today’s bourbon market where it seems that age statements keep descend as prices move disproportionately upward. For the glut era, it was a simple reality of the times. Distillers needed to get the already aged whiskey bottled for retail, where it would (hopefully) be purchased by a consumer who might appreciate the quality of the distillate for the price.
Many things have changed in the bourbon industry since the glut era, most notably, the amount of exposure the American whiskey scene maintains compared to even a decade ago. Outlets such as social media, bourbon clubs, podcasts, and this very blog you’re reading are all significant changes to the way potential consumers discover new brands and products.