Bottles Up: Liquor Shortage Threatens The Holidays

By Rachmaninoff - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53699848

The supply chain crisis is threatening America’s liquor reserves during the most festively boozy time of the year and could keep the country dry for months to come.

Despite the Biden administration’s attempt to mitigate bottlenecks of container ships out of Asia by keeping the Port of Los Angeles up and running 24/7, labor shortages coupled with container capacity and an inadequate supply of glass for bottles has created a perfect storm of chaos for the spirits industry.

Liquor purveyors across the country are warning customers that they should hit their local liquor store quickly if they need to stock up on booze for their upcoming festivities.

“With the holidays around the corner and inventory levels low in some cases, customers should be on the lookout now if they have a very specific bottle of spirits in mind,” remarked Lisa Hawkins of the Distilled Spirits Council. 

Tequila in particular is already in short supply after distillers fell behind on production during the pandemic, and the barrel aging process is unable to be rushed. A Philadelphia eggnog producer has the opposite problem, they have the product, but essential components like bottles could result in a total loss. 

“We cannot produce… even if we have the product. So then you’re talking about dumping product down the drain,” manager Jim Logan of Jacquin’s explained.  

States with government run liquor systems like New Hampshire and Utah will fare slightly better during the shortage, as they have been bolstering their inventory. 

“New Hampshire is more fortunate than other states because of the Liquor Commission’s ordering practices, our inventory requirements and the capacity we have in our million-plus-case warehouse in Bow,” said spokesman E.J. Powers.

“We’ve been planning and preparing for this as far back as this spring, anticipating this really busy time of the year,” remarked Tiffany Classon, the executive director of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The department has formed an inventory list so they will be able to ration their scarce supply of  champagnes Dom Perignon Blanc and Moet Imperial Brut, along with Hennessy cognacs and Patron Tequila.   

“If you get to the store and you find that your product is not available, take this as an opportunity to shop local,” Clason added. “We have a lot of local manufacturers that do manufacture products that are just as good, if not better than our national brands.”

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