The United States is swimming in the midst of a whiskey shortage.
Whiskey sales have risen 10.2 percent in the past year, according to the Washington-based Distilled Spirits Council. A worldwide boom in whiskey consumption has prompted the increase, with the United States exporting record amounts of whiskey.
While the big industries based in Kentucky and Tennessee fight to keep up with the demand, small distilleries are benefiting from the shortfall.
“It’s giving us a chance because people are starting to come in and sample new things,” said Ryan Burchett, co-owner of the Mississippi River Distilling Company in LeClaire, Iowa.
Ryan and his brother Garrett started their business three years ago. They keep a newspaper article posted behind their bar displaying their first barrel filling at the distillery, which took place on Buffalo Bill’s birthday.
“Micro distilling is starting to take off and this shortage is providing an opportunity for people like us,” Ryan said, standing in front of a large distillation tank.
The boom in whiskey sales has helped Mississippi River Distilling Company put bottles on shelves in 25 states. Their whiskey typically ages for 18 months, so they always have enough stocked up for when the big businesses are running short on their aged whiskey.
“We always try to store more than we sell,” Ryan said.
If “sitting” on their whiskey is their goal, they are succeeding. In the basement of their facility sits nearly a quarter-million dollars worth of aging whiskey.
So while the Jack and Jim try to keep their supply in flux with the demand, brothers Ryan and Garrett will keep making their whiskey and growing their business.