Drought hits local distillers

For LeClaire, Iowa, distiller Ryan Burchett, it all begins on the farm.

“We get about a pound and a half of grain per bottle, so when you stop and think of it that way, forty, fifty cents of grain is going into a bottle of vodka,” said Burchett.

Corn, wheat, barley and rye all go into making alcohol at the Mississippi River Distilling Company. When it all comes from local farms, rising grain futures mean rising costs.

“The pricing is set by the market moving forward, and so people are expecting that there’s going to be a shortage of corn this year, so the price goes up,” said Burchett.

The good news for shoppers? The price of vodka, gin and bourbon will likely stay the same. Burchett admits, though, that the hike is a concern.

“It makes a difference when something changes 25 percent in a short period of time. Certainly looking at what’s going on around here, it’s not something that’s gonna go down anytime soon.”

So like local farmers, Burchett and area distillers will keep their eyes on the sky.

“It’s the corn that’s really at a critical juncture here for us, and if they don’t see some decent rain here, within the next couple weeks, it’s really at a critical juncture,” Burchett said.

Click here for more news from Bettendorf and East Scott County

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