top of page

The "Limited Edition" Hysteria

Limited Edition Bourbon Hysteria

A phrase that we've seen more and more when it comes to bourbon marketing is "limited edition" or "limited release." It sounds sexy, doesn't it? Just like any clever marketing gimmick, it's meant to imply some perceived rarity or scarceness that is then suggestive that by definition it is more valuable or more desirable to have. With the boom in all thing's bourbon, and with so many folks eager to lay hands on rare or allocated bottles of bourbon, the appeal to land a limited-edition bottling has never been greater. The decline in the quality of limited-edition bourbons seems to parallel the rise in the popularity of the term. With folks so eager to get their hands on rare bottles, the quality of the juice doesn't necessarily matter, it's more about the gravitas of having the bottle than drinking it. This is a fact that many distillers or simply those selling other folks' barrels are banking on and lining their pockets with "tater cash." Yes, Taters are People Too.

What is Limited Edition Bourbon?

So, what exactly does it mean to be a "limited edition" or a "limited release" bourbon? The answer is that it depends, and it's not truly defined. The problem therein is that any brand can market their "special" release as a limited edition highlighting some intriguing way in which they've matured the juice or collaborated to create nuance in their dram, bottle it up with some flashy packaging and - with a little hype - make some coin and then do it all over again.

These bottles tend to make a splash right off, commanding multiples of their suggested retail price on the Secondary Bourbon Market, before coming back down to earth once folks realize the juice may not be worth the squeeze. A great example of this is Jefferson's Marian McLain Limited Edition bottling which came out of the gate hot on the secondary market. Contrast that to today, where we've seen the last few bottles sold go for under retail.

All Aboard | Pricing Goes North

Kentucky Owl Limited Edition Bourbons

As I scrolled through a regional liquor stores online app the other day, I couldn't help but be struck by some of the pricing that was tied to a whole variety of limited-edition bourbons from Kentucky Owl. Five hundred bucks for a Mardis Gras themed limited-edition bottle? One reviewer noted it offers "a refined and well-balanced sweet-spicy mix that's accented by funky oak." I won't be lining up to empty my pockets for this one. The other two Kentucky Owl bourbons highlighted above, I see when I'm out and about sitting on shelves on the regular...I'm still scratching my head about how, beyond the packaging, the St. Patrick's bottling or the Takumi bottling have anything to do with either Ireland or Japan. Although not as egregious as the Mardis Gras bottle, these will still set you back a one and a half Benjamin's if you have some extra money burning a hole in your wallet. At best, these seem to be a great opportunity to add a pop of color to your bar, but not much more beyond that.

Vote With Your Dollar

At the end of the day when we get right down to the root of the problem with limited edition bourbon, there's a fair bit of introspect required and many Bourboneurs may need to look in the mirror. As these new limited release bottles are bought up as fast as they can hit shelves or in some cases before they even can find their way to the shelf, it's clear that folks desire to get hands on whatever's new and has some buzz around it will continue to feed the culture of Limited-Edition Hysteria. When people stop being willing to throw good money after bad to get every bottle they can get hands on just for the sake of having said bottle, maybe we'll see the proliferation of limited bottlings subside. I personally however don't see this trend going away anytime soon. Bourbon collections are now the new big game trophy wall in many folks' homes, proudly displaying the success of the hunt. Now, more than ever, there's a lot of hunters hunting for the next wall mount.

If Bourbon is Your Thing...

Each week we post up new content that explores the ever-changing world of bourbon, bringing fresh perspectives and the latest updates on all things brownwater. Join a community of 5,000+ Bourboneur's and make sure to navigate to our main blog page and sign up for our free weekly newsletter so you don't miss a beat. We'd suggest you also become a Bourboneur and join us on Instagram, Facebook, and yes, even TikTok. Show us some love and give us a like on your favorite platform, or all of them and keep up with all the Bourboneur happenings.

488 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page