We've made it halfway through the year and day in and day out bottles are changing hands on the secondary market. There's a fair bit of flux built into pricing and that pricing ebbs and flows with the market demand. Naturally, some bottles are consistently sought after and pricing tends to remain fairly constant; these are the Weller 12's, the E.H. Taylor Single Barrels, and the Blanton's of the world. They tend to trade in a fairly tight range that doesn't really move much. Most often we see dramatic swings in pricing as new allocated bourbons are released, serving oft as the high-water mark on pricing with gradual erosion of value with the passing of time or if the juice simply isn't worth the squeeze. Below we dig into some bottles that have flopped and popped and provide some thoughts on outlook for the balance of 2023.
The list below entails a number of whiskeys which haven't found as much secondary love as of late compared to when they originally hit the market. A few in rather dramatic fashion have plummeted from their initial glory.
In one of the largest turn arounds on pricing on the secondary market this year is Heaven Hills Heritage Collection 20 Year Corn Whiskey offering. We wrote about the Heaven Hill Heritage Collection recently and highlighted the downward pricing pressure this bottle has seen - at one point commanding a 1,700 USD price tag. Although I didn't expect prices would keep eroding a few months ago from 1100 USD, in line with pricing of their 17 Year offering in this same collection, prices have and currently this bottle is trading hands for around 700 USD. That's quite a haircut from when it first came out. Definitely a unique expression nonetheless, and worth a try if you have the chance!
Texas, as you may not know, has seen a good number of distilleries open up and now has what many refer to as the "Texas Whiskey Trail." Check out Texas Bourbon | THE Comprehensive Guide if you want to learn more. Hitting the market with a thud however, Garrison Brothers Lady Bird bourbon didn't seem to get much attention outside of the Texas market. Generally speaking, flavored whiskey isn't high on many folks lists so perhaps that's not a huge surprise. If you're looking to make an elevated old fashioned, this is your jam...otherwise, probably not going to command the 180 USD price tag at retail! The secondary pricing on this has continued to trend down, floating not too far off of MSRP!
One of the more interesting releases in recent memory from Jack Daniels, their Twice Barreled bottling has finally settled on a floor with a secondary valuation currently standing around 200 USD. When the bottle first hit the secondary the high-water mark was around 450, so quite the turnaround in a relatively short period of time. Not the strongest release from the distillery, but certainly one that shows they continue to innovate in an ever evolving market. 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.
Following on Jefferson's 25th anniversary, the distillery began releasing this new expression as a tribute to Trey Zoeller's (the distilleries founder) eighth generation grandmother, Marian McLain, who was one of the earliest women on record for distilling and selling whiskey in America. The bottle retails for around 300 USD and the last two that have sold on the secondary went for 265 if that tells you anything. Dig into our recent post on Jefferson's Marian McLain for all the particulars on this release.
Although some bottles haven't found much love on the secondary, there are a number of bottles that have been rising in popularity. Below we capture a few of those that are trending in an upward direction.
While the Twice Barreled expression from Jack Daniels made our list of secondary flops, their 12-year offering has hit the ground running with strong demand across the board. Interestingly enough, the price point on this bottle hasn't moved significantly, currently trading hands for around 265 USD; when these bottles pop up, they disappear pretty quickly.
Combining two different finishing styles together, Penelope clearly did something right on this bottling which stands apart as a breed all its own. Add in the MGP announcement that they would acquire Penelope and that's probably also driven up the hype on the brand and this bottle in particular. This expression is rumored to be quite potent in the flavor department which leaves me to believe you'll either love it or hate it...the market reaction suggests there are more lovers than haters however!
Another Texas whiskey, Rebecca Creek in 2022 released some MGP sourced 16-year bourbon, with a few of the bottles coming in above 130 proof. To be certain, those with the higher proofs have been able to command a much more robust price on the secondary. Given there's not a lot of well-aged MGP juice floating around out on the market, I'm giving more than a little bit of this particular bottling's popularity to the age statement and the juice's provenance. It certainly has some great things going for it, but many have found it to have sat in the barrel perhaps a few seasons too long, with a hefty helping of oak coming off dry and tannic...makes you want to run out and buy one, right? Nonetheless, this expression has been trending up....
Another MGP sourced beauty, I've made no secret for my love of this particular bottle. As a matter of fact, I picked up a backup bottle just the other day...I may have had a little glimmer in my eye when I took possession! This deep and dark dram has some great age to it and it really shines through in all the best ways in the glass. As one would expect, oak is very front and center with this pour, but perhaps unexpectedly balanced with dark fruit and baking spice notes coming along for the ride. Definitely a solid bottle and one that you shouldn't shy away from if you have the chance to pull the trigger on buying!
According to DISCUS, sales of luxury spirits grew 43 percent in the last year. Not surprising to anyone reading this post, bourbon has been trending north for the past five years with sales growing 45 percent during that time. These gains don't just equate to the typical heritage type distilleries like Jack Daniels, but disproportionately to craft distilleries which are gaining steam at a rapid rate. The number of active craft distilleries grew nearly 18 percent over the last year, with California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington leading the pack. Additionally, rare bottle sales at auctions have been breaking records left and right. Bourbon is in, and you see it referenced everywhere in day-to-day life. With lines forming outside many stores when folks know bottles are dropping, and the ever-growing list of bottles that are now allocated, expect that anything en vogue is going to be tougher and tougher to find, and will command a premium on the secondary, with more craft spirits finding their way to the list of coveted bottles. Consumers continue to see high-end bourbons as a status symbol and are willing to lean in with their wallets, and nothing suggests that trend is going to change with values expected to advance significantly in the years ahead. If there's something that you like a lot, it may be worth stockpiling a few bottles now just in case....
Keep tabs on what the market is pricing bottles at with the free resource we've developed to track the ebbs and flows of coveted bottles of brownwater on the Secondary Market. Link below...
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