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Bourbon Shortage Hits Knob Creek

From the Louisville Courier-Journal's Alex Davis: Fans of Knob Creek bourbon may find their favorite whiskey in short supply this summer as the brand's bottle warehouses near Clermont, Ky., are empty and the next batch of aged whiskey won't be ready until November.

Bourbon experts say the looming shortage is somewhat unusual, although brands such as Knob Creek, which is aged for nine years, are more susceptible because their distillers must predict demand far in advance.

"It's very difficult to forecast out nine-year demand," said Kelly Doss, senior director of U.S. bourbon and whiskey at Beam Global Spirits & Wine, which makes Knob Creek. "We can only sell what we can bottle and ship."

Beam Global, itself part of Fortune Brands, sells about 150,000 cases of Knob Creek annually, putting it at the top of the company's small batch collection, but well below Maker's Mark, and its flagship Jim Beam bourbon which is aged four years.. Doss said none of those brands are expected to face a shortage this summer.

Beam recently sent T-shirts emblazoned with "The drought of 2009" to 16,000 Knob Creek fans who registered on the brand's Web site.

The company also plans to use the shortage as a marketing tool in the months ahead, playing on the notion that the lack of Knob Creek is connected to its popularity. A recent company statement announcing the shortage carried the headline "thanks for nothing" and said the brand will be "even more popular and profitable once supply is restored." FULL STORY
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