Is Bourbon Broken? Part 3: Distribution and Retail based on Bourbon & Banter (Bourbon Pursuit #326)

, | October 10, 2021

Welcome back to Part 3 on our series of “Is Bourbon Broken?” as we analyze the multi-part blog series from Bourbon & Banter. This episode is one that many have been waiting for as we evaluate the variable that is completely out of our control as a consumer and that’s distribution and retail. We’ve challenged this system multiple times and I’m not sure if we’ll ever figure out the correct answer, but how do we make sure it’s always working in favor of the consumer? How should distributors reward stores differently?  What does the future of commerce look like? And should distributors and retailers be wary of the digital age?

Show Partners:

  • Catoctin Creek has been honoring that tradition of small craft rye whisky since 2009. Learn more at
  • Smooth Ambler builds on the traditional roots of American whiskey in West Virginia. Visit to learn more.
  • Wilderness Trail is Sweet Mash Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Rye Whiskey distilled, aged, and bottled in Danville, Kentucky. Learn more at
  • You can now buy Barrell Craft Spirits products online and have them shipped right to your door. Visit and click Buy Now.
  • Spirits of French Lick is delivering the finest hand crafted Bottled in Bond bourbons. Check out
  • Savor every drop of summer at Total Wine & More! You’re sure to find cool prices in-store or online at
  • Heaven Hill Distillery has been lifting America’s spirit since 1935. Check out educational resources and sign up for their newsletter at

Show Notes:

  • This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about celebrity whiskey.
  • Each state has its own laws on distribution, is this presenting a lot of challenges for the industry?
  • How do you reward stores without making them take on a bunch of inventory in order to get allocated items?
  • Do you feel that wholesalers and elected representatives are working for the benefit of the consumers?
  • Do you think that it’s fair that retailers own the product and can charge whatever they want?
  • At the end of the day, everyone is still making their margin so why do retailers choose to mark it up?
  • Why don’t more retailers push back on distributors?
  • Should distributors and retailers be scared about the future?
  • Should we move to a system where highly desirable releases only happen through a distillery website?

This post first appeared on Bourbon Pursuit at

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Bourbon Pursuit

Kenny Coleman and Ryan Cecil host the Bourbon Pursuit podcast from Louisville, KY. Together, they share a passion for the stories that made an industry flourish with a focus on history, personality, and of course, great bourbon. Their guests include master distillers, bloggers, historians, local events and more.