As with any free market, demand sets the price, and the bourbon market is no different than any other. As new "limited run" bottles become available, there is an uptick of demand and often a bevy in pricing that occurs as the market works to find the top of what buyers are willing to pay. Mostly, that ceiling is short lived as access becomes more readily available or perhaps as folks realize the bottle they have been after isn't all that it was hyped up to be. A great example is the big run up that Castle and Key had when they released their first bottling. Loads of interest, but as a recent bourbon tasting in my garage bar went, it placed dead last in the lineup, and it wasn't by just a little either. A friend who manages a large liquor store recently told me that they had missed the window to sell their bottles of Castle and Key while it was in the "hype" phase and now are sitting on a bunch that are going to be tough to move as folks have realized the distillery may have got their product to market a little too quickly.
With the ups and downs of bourbon, this week we'll take a look at what some recent trends are related to five bottles that our readers would be interested in. These are some of the most active bottles trading hands lately, and although there's plenty of Weller 12 and EH Taylor Barrel Proof to go around, those tend to have a fairly tight range that they don't deviate much from.
The first bottle up is one I actually have sitting inside waiting for an opening in the garage bar (whose shelves are presently packed with brownwater...I know, it's a terrible problem to have). It's a bottle that's trending in a negative direction, with the secondary price nearly dropping by 50% since it hit the market. This marks the first time ever that Jack Daniels has released a product that has a 100 percent malted barley mash bill. After sitting in white oak barrels for four years following Jack Daniels typical charcoal mellowing process (otherwise known as the Lincoln County Process), it is then finished in Oloroso sherry casks for two and a half more years and bottled at cask proof. My bottle here at the house is 107.4 proof, with the range of bottlings being from 106.1 to 107.8. Although it's the first malt whiskey produced by the distillery, Jack Daniels has noted that it plans to have a malt whiskey as a part of its permanent lineup moving forward from the Summer of 2023.
As you can see on the chart below, when the bottle first hit the market the intrigue of Jack Daniels first American single malt and initial limited access commanded pricing in line with their coveted Coy Hill brand for instance. Pricing has now fallen and stabilized, though could yet still see some downward pressure.
Keeping up with everyone else, yet another multi-barreled bourbon on the market this time from Heaven Hill, marking the 16th edition from the distillery. Each one of the yearly bottlings has a different style altogether, with this one sourced from multiple floors of their Rickhouse Q with bourbon that was aged for 13 years and then underwent a secondary maturation in newly charred (#3 char) barrels for an additional month. This was blended with 15-year-old bourbon from Rickhouse II. Clocking in at a hefty 132.2 proof, it's assertive and bold and leaves an impact. If you like George T. Stagg, this is probably your huckleberry.
There's been no shortage of these bottles available on the secondary and it appears as though we're still searching for a bottom on this bottling. For reference the past couple years releases average 645 and 605 respectively, so I anticipate we see this level off around the current average.
Last week I had featured this bottle in my post "More Bourbon Please" where I highlighted the top handful of bourbons I was looking to pick up, with this being one of them. I put a lot of good information into that post so if you didn't read it, feel free to click on the link above to see what I'm after and learn some more about this bottle. I've not managed to pick this up out in the wild yet, and so absent finding a connection who has it, wants to get rid of it, and we can make a mutually agreeable arrangement, my only other option may would be the Secondary Bourbon Market. As you can see below however, now's probably not the time to bite on this particular bottle. Although the average pricing is 400, a more realistic average is likely closer to 350...but trending south. I'll be working on my patience in 2023 it appears.
I admittedly have not been a big Willett fan; everyone has their own flavor profiles they gravitate towards, and I've tried a lot of Willett products and just haven't had any that have landed with me. That is until I tried their wheated bottling. This particular bourbon almost has a floral nose that is rather seducing, and frankly put it in a different category for me than most anything sitting open on my shelf. This particular bottling has seen a recent uptick in popularity following becoming allocated. As you can see below, pricing had been experiencing downward pressure up until the allocated label got stuck on it, which has now helped raise the price point on this particular release. We may be close to a top, or we may yet see some northward movement toward earlier pricing...if you've got a bottle like me, perhaps sip a little slower.
A bourbon that needs no introduction, the top of the Weller Bourbon line, this is one of THE most coveted bottles out there. The excitement of the 2022 BTAC Release got a number of folks in a tizzy it appears as there were at least a couple foolish folks who paid top dollar to get in early on having this particular release in hand. Unsurprisingly, it's continued to stabilize around what other releases over the past five years are currently going for in the range of 1650 to 1800. I don't expect to see this bottle fall any further in price on the secondary; I'd scoop one up now as opposed to in a months' time when prices stabilize around the current average.
The detailed analysis presented here was developed from our extensive research that has helped create the Bourbon Blue Book. This completely free resource was developed to help Bourboneur's everywhere to understand the market around secondary sales for bourbon to arm folks with an appreciation for fair market values for coveted bottles of brownwater (bourbon AND rye). Make sure to join us on Instagram, Facebook, and yes, even TikTok for garage bar resources, giveaways, laughs, and more. Find more intriguing articles like this one on our blog. Cheers!