Thursday, September 1, 2011

The infamous Bourbon Glout

I have been pepper sprayed with questions about bourbon glout as of late, to the point where we really need to clear the air.  There are so many silly stories about it that they all can't be write.  Well, I'm here to set the story straight.  There is one right answer and I've got it in my back pocket and I'm going to pull it out and type it for all of you to see.

BOURBON GLOUT FACTS by Johnny "Bourbon Law"

Time frame:  September 16th 1942 - October 1st 1959

Cause:  Two major reasons for the glout. 

1., The Whiskey Rebellion - The bourbon distillerators were being taxed by the British Empire and they, in turn, were forwarding on the tax burden to the consumer.  As a result, on September 16th 1942, roughly 75% of the bourbon-consuming american public protested the bourbon tax by lighting themselves ablaze in Jowelville, KY.  That day, at 4:59:55 Post Meridien, 198,463 people went up in flames for a worthy cause.  This crippled the bourbon industry and revenue dropped 80% instantaneously.  So, as a result, all the bourbon aging in each distillerator's rick houses, did nothing but age and collect taxes (bourbon was taxed each year, not just by sales but by aging in the barrel).  Over the next 17 years, more than 5,000 Bourbon Distillerators would either be shut down or swallowed up by the big guns of the industry ie., Jack Beam, Diageo, Seagrams, Sazerac, Brookers, Knob Creek and Ten High.

2. The rise of pornography - Though still illegal, it was picking up major steam in the late 30's due to big-time rackets, run by the mob, jumping in and peddling this immoral material in both film version and magazine to the masses.  Research later showed that more than 81% of american men who consume hard liquor also had a weakness for pornography.  As bourbon sales were beginning to rise by 2% in May of 1952, pornography was becoming a major black market player and it not only flatened bourbon sales by November of 1952 but by February of 1953, bourbon sales plummeted 11%!  Hard-drinking American men were no longer hittin' the bottle hard but, instead, hittin' their "San Pedro" hard.

Affect:  A bourbon lover's dream.  Bourbon just wasn't gathering dust and taxes, it was gaining additional flavor and complexity as it sat in the barrels and bourbon consumers were reaping the rewards.  Commonly found on the liquor store shelves were, 30 year old Bottles in Bond for a nickle ($2.50 in today's money).  Bourbon labeled 10 years was actualy 20 or more years old.  Bourbon labeled 20 years was often times -- especially toward the end of the glout -- 100 years old and selling for a dime ($5 in today's money)!

Cause for the bourbon rebirth:  Baby Boomers - they started to become of age, sort of.  The first tier of Baby Boomers were in their middle years of high school and began drinking.  Due to a rough economy in the late 50's, these young high school kids were receiving less of a drawer from Mommy dear and as a result turned to bourbon instead of other spirits simply due to cost.  Bourbon was cheaper than any other spirit at that time.  Before you knew it, these BB's were scooping up all the Old Fitzy, Snitzel & Weeler, Old Rip Van Winkle, Old Pogue, Diageo Bottles In Bond and so on that they could get their greasy, pimple-poppin' fingers on.  And so, on October 1st, 1959, it was decreed by Chief Master Bourbon Distillerator Quinipeas "Q-Tip" Seripitis that the bourbon glout had reached its official end due to revenue increases over the last two years of 31%.

Today's Industry:  While sales of bourbon have continued to increase at a steady pace throughout the years following the glout, it has never regained the sales of the 1920's and 30's.  Still, the bourbon industry has become a major seller among Whiskey, outperforming blended scotch and Canadian Whiskey handily.

While the quantity of bourbon sold is not near what it once was, this era can be considered in many ways, a bourbon lover's dream as well.  The reason?  There are so many bourbons with so many different styles, aged at so many different years at so many different proofs that it could make a bourbon hound's hair stand up on end!  What today's bourbon lacks in quantity it gained in quality 10-fold.

Could there be another bourbon glout?  Not only could there be but there will be.  It's just a matter of when.  I would say over the next 10 years, we should see a downturn in sales by as much as 15% with Baby Boomer generation unfortunately aging, becoming sickly and dying off.  And their children and grandchildren really haven't taken to the dark spirits but instead the clear stuff like vodka and tequila.

In short, enjoy what we've got while it lasts because it will soon be gone and our choices will be severely limmited when glout part II occurs.  Though, the age of the bourbon will rise, so that will be a fairly even trade-off.

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