Rye Shortage

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Rye Shortage

Unread postby Roscoe » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:33 pm

Distilleries Still Scrambling To Boost Production
In Wake Of Rye Shortage

Rye, once a niche drink, has ridden the cocktail renaissance to become a mixology star. But because its rise came so quickly and unexpectedly, distillers have been dealing with a Rye shortage that has them struggling to meet demand. “We didn’t see this coming,” says Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe. “It’s going to take us a couple of years to catch up.”

“Nobody saw the Rye spike coming,” agrees Wild Turkey’s longtime master distiller Jimmy Russell. “We’re completely out for the next two years.”

Rye shipments have grown by more than 20% annually over the past several years. Jim Beam, whose Jim Beam Rye, Ri1 and Old Overholt brands make it the industry’s single-largest rye distiller, reported a 46.7% increase in Rye shipments between 2009 and 2011.

Whiskey’s aging process makes it difficult to respond quickly to increases in demand (most American whiskies sit in wood for at least four years). So while distilleries have ramped up production of Rye, most of it is still aging in warehouses.

The shortage is particularly severe for smaller-production labels such as Heaven Hill Distilleries’ Rittenhouse 100—a brand particularly beloved by mixologists. Rittenhouse 100 virtually disappeared from the bar scene in some cities in 2010 after it became mixologists’ go-to rye for Manhattans.

Bars lucky enough to find some of the harder-to-procure labels have been known to stockpile what they can—a practice that makes supply even harder to find. “We regularly run out—even at the bars and restaurants that we try to keep stocked,” says Raj Peter Bhatka, founder and CEO of WhistlePig, a cult distiller whose Rye has recently come into fashion with bartenders.

“The only way around it is to bounce between brands,” says Naren Young, bar manager at New York’s Saxon & Parole. “Often, if you’re creating drinks with a certain rye, it has a certain flavor profile and will taste different if you sub in a different brand.”

But that could mean an inconsistent experience for customers, as the most sought-after ryes are higher-proof products like Rittenhouse 100 and Wild Turkey 101, which bartenders claim provide stronger, spicier backbones to their cocktails. “A Manhattan made with an 80-proof Rye has a less dominant whiskey profile than one made with the Rittenhouse 100,” McGee says. “If you have to use a lower-proof rye, you also have to adjust the proportions.”

The good news for rye lovers is that new supply will hit the market in the next couple of years. Until then, bar owners may just have to stockpile what they can while they wait for Rye reinforcements to arrive.

From Shanken News Daily..

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Re: Rye Shortage

Unread postby EllenJ » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:21 pm

The following, from the USDA crop values report of 2011 (http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/ ... 6-2012.txt) shows the prices of standard #2 yellow corn versus those of rye grain, per bushel, during 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Of course there are many factors in a distillery's decision as to what product to emphasize, but materials cost is certainly one of the biggies. Here's what the report has to say about the cost of (mainly) rye whiskey compared to the cost of (mainly) corn whiskey:

Field and Miscellaneous Crops Price per Unit - United States: 2009-2011
[Blank data cells indicate estimation period has not yet begun]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
: Price per unit 1/
Crop :-----------------------------------------------------------
: 2009 : 2010 : 2011
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
: dollars
Corn for grain ..................bushels: _____ 3.55 _________ 5.18 __________ 6.20
Rye .............................bushels: ______ 4.93 _________ 5.03 __________ 7.77


Thanks to the phenomenon of the sudden interest in ethanol-based fuels (and despite the federal subsidy for corn production, now ended), in 2010 it became cheaper to produce whiskey with 51+% rye than with 51+% corn. In fact, nearly 3% cheaper. Result, anyone with any production sense started distilling rye like there was no tomorrow. And, in fact, they were right. "Tomorrow" (i.e., 2011), the subsidy was over and the cost of rye went from -3% to +20%, almost as much as it was in 2009. That 2010 production will be ready to hit the market sometime between 2014 and 2016 and, if you enjoy rye whiskey you'd better stock up on that, because my guess is that the glut will only last for about a year and then things will be back to normal.
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Re: Rye Shortage

Unread postby gillmang » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:51 pm

That's very interesting John, but at the same time, there has been a slowly growing wave of international interest in American rye whiskey which IMO began with the lyrical, evocative and beautifully illustrated rye whiskey chapters of Michael Jackson's World Guide To Whisky published in the late 1980's. After Michael, other writers took up the rye cause. The cocktails craze, something which started independently around the same time, linked up with this consumer interest in rye since it's a natural: rye is an original component of numerous classic cocktails.

Bar owners and mixologists picked up and built on this and so did the online whiskey community especially SB and BE. Then the blogs came and not to omit of course your excellent and influential ellenjaye.com site.

This is what mainly explains the production spike in rye whiskey IMO, not that 3 year graph of grain prices. I don't say the pricing had no influence, but it wasn't the main cause, again IMO.

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Re: Rye Shortage

Unread postby EllenJ » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:16 pm

gillmang wrote:... I don't say the pricing had no influence, but it wasn't the main cause, again IMO.Gary

Overall, I certainly agree with you. But then, I'm not one whose employment is concerned with such things as a 3% vs 20% materials cost factor. In my own world it wouldn't make much of a difference, but I can see that might not be the case on a corporate level.

Do we have any readers out there whose job this sort of thing really affects?
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Re: Rye Shortage

Unread postby Roscoe » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:10 pm

While I agree with both factors in the increased demand for rye, I have to add that the show 'Mad Men' also had an influence. I also believe that 'The Sopranos' contributed greatly to the cigar craze of the mid 90's. Some people are like lemmings and follow the crowd just to be 'in'.

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Re: Rye Shortage

Unread postby EllenJ » Fri Jun 22, 2012 7:15 pm

Roscoe, I don't want to sound like a curmudgeon, but you've just put your finger squarely upon probably the most important demographic group in the world of spirits marketing (as well as cars, clothing, after-shave, and myriads of other products). I'll bet you get a lot of static about that post, but you won't get any from me.
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Re: Rye Shortage

Unread postby Shell@freilich.com » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:46 am

I think that we are starting to see an easing of the rye shortage, with producers bringing more and new ryes to the market. We are at the beginnings of a resurgence of the rye spirit. In the last 12-15 years or so, I've been unhappy with the rye shortage, as well as with the limited ryes available here in my state, MI (for example, none of the High West ryes are available here in the state).

I reprinted, below, the most recent listing of straight ryes approved for sale by the MI Liquor Control Commission. Note the number of new ryes available in the listing (and this in a state that is somewhat more restrictive on spirit variety). Jefferson's Rye, Knob Creek Rye, George Dickel Rye, Colonel Taylor Rye, Woodford Reserve Cask Rye are all listed:


(RI) 1
BREAKOUT PREMIUM RYE WHISKEY
BULLEIT 95 RYE
COLONEL E.H. TAYLOR
GEORGE DICKEL RYE
GEORGE DICKEL RYE
GRAND TRAV OLE GEORGE WHISKEY
HUDSON MANHATTAN RYE
JEFFERSON'S-10 YR
JIM BEAM RYE
JIM BEAM RYE PL
KNOB CREEK RYE
KNOB CREEK RYE
OLD OVERHOLT
OLE GEORGE WHISKEY
PENDLETON 1910
PRICHARDS RYE WHISKEY
REDEMPTION RYE
RITTENHOUSE RYE
RIVERBOAT RYE
RUSSELL'S RESERVE RYE
RYE WHISKEY
SAZERAC RYE-18 YR
SAZERAC RYE-6 YR
STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY
THOMAS H HANDY SAZERAC RYE
VAN WINKLE FAM RES RYE-13YR
WILD TURKEY RYE
WOODFORD RESERVE CASK/AGED 2PK
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Re: Rye Shortage

Unread postby EllenJ » Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:27 pm

Shell@freilich.com wrote:I think that we are starting to see an easing of the rye shortage, with producers bringing more and new ryes to the market. We are at the beginnings of a resurgence of the rye spirit. In the last 12-15 years or so, I've been unhappy with the rye shortage, as well as with the limited ryes available here in my state, MI (for example, none of the High West ryes are available here in the state).

I reprinted, below, the most recent listing of straight ryes approved for sale by the MI Liquor Control Commission. Note the number of new ryes available in the listing (and this in a state that is somewhat more restrictive on spirit variety). Jefferson's Rye, Knob Creek Rye, George Dickel Rye, Colonel Taylor Rye, Woodford Reserve Cask Rye are all listed:


Hmmmm, that's a pretty impressive selection. Doesn't seem to me like you're missing out on much!

BREAKOUT PREMIUM RYE WHISKEY Not sure about this one
GEORGE DICKEL RYE
GEORGE DICKEL RYE
You mention these twice; are they different? Never seen this (and would like to)
GRAND TRAV OLE GEORGE WHISKEY Sounds like LDI rye. If not, tell me more
OLE GEORGE WHISKEY Is this the same stuff?
JEFFERSON'S-10 YR LDI rye. This isn't a "dis"; LDI is GOOD rye
PENDLETON 1910 This is Canadian; tasty, but not the same as straight rye whiskey
PRICHARDS RYE WHISKEY I've tasted this at his Kelso distillery, but I didn't know it was available on the shelves.
REDEMPTION RYE LDI, and some of the best
RIVERBOAT RYE Also LDI
WOODFORD RESERVE CASK/AGED 2PK This is around, but I haven't tried it yet. Is it worth it?

Others that may be of interest, if you can find them, might be
ABRAHAM BOWMAN (several varieties) Wow! Holy S#!t!). This is Buffalo Trace Rye (i.e. Handy) redistilled and aged in Virginia by A. Smith Bowman
KNOB CREEK RYE Don't knock it just because Jim Beam already markets Beam Rye and Overholt. This is really REALLY good stuff.
TOM'S FOOLERY RYE (several styles and agings)
CORSAIR (Wry Moon, and some aged rye coming soon)
MCKENZIE (one of the best artisan/craft ryes out there)
DAD'S HAT (another, completely different style of rye. Available in Pennsylvania)
DELAWARE PHOENIX New York rye. Eat your heart out, Hudson!
STALEY MILLS Ohio rye
TEMPLETON This is LDI rye currently, although they claim to be aging juice actually distilled there
COPPER FOX from Rick Wasmund, who malts his own barley
WHISTLE PIG, which is really "Canadian" rye, but at least it's 100% rye grain.
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Re: Rye Shortage

Unread postby Shell@freilich.com » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:03 am

Hmmmm, that's a pretty impressive selection. Doesn't seem to me like you're missing out on much! -
- Thanks for the comments and suggestions. My biggest complaint is that the wonderful High West spirits are not available in MI. See my responses, below, in red. Shell


GRAND TRAV OLE GEORGE WHISKEY Sounds like LDI rye. If not, tell me more
- this is a 100%, 2 yr. rye made by Grand Traverse Distillery, Traverse City, MI - only sold at the distillery. It's good, but I think that it needs a couple of more years in the barrel. I understand that they are/have come out with a bourbon. Their first spirit is a vodka, which is pretty good.

GRAND TRAV OLE GEORGE WHISKEY Sounds like LDI rye. If not, tell me more -
- the state lists bottle size (750 ml, 375 ml, etc.) separately. Sorry for the duplication.
GRAND TRAV OLE GEORGE WHISKEY Sounds like LDI rye. If not, tell me more
BREAKOUT PREMIUM RYE WHISKEY Not sure about this one
GEORGE DICKEL RYE
GEORGE DICKEL RYE You mention these twice; are they different? Never seen this (and would like to)
- the state lists bottle size (750 ml, 375 ml, etc.) separately. Sorry for the duplication.

GRAND TRAV OLE GEORGE WHISKEY Sounds like LDI rye. If not, tell me more
OLE GEORGE WHISKEY Is this the same stuff?
- I think that this is another duplication.

GRAND TRAV OLE GEORGE WHISKEY Sounds like LDI rye. If not, tell me more
JEFFERSON'S-10 YR LDI rye. This isn't a "dis"; LDI is GOOD rye
- I just bought this ~ one month ago. It is really a wonderful rye. I understand (per John Hansell's review) that it's 100% Canadian rye, supposedly from the same source as Whistle Pig and Masterson's, but at a lower proof (94).

GRAND TRAV OLE GEORGE WHISKEY Sounds like LDI rye. If not, tell me more
PENDLETON 1910 This is Canadian; tasty, but not the same as straight rye whiskey
PRICHARDS RYE WHISKEY I've tasted this at his Kelso distillery, but I didn't know it was available on the shelves.
REDEMPTION RYE LDI, and some of the best
RIVERBOAT RYE Also LDI
WOODFORD RESERVE CASK/AGED 2PK This is around, but I haven't tried it yet. Is it worth it?
- I have not tried it. My retailer gives it very high marks.


Others that may be of interest, if you can find them, might be
ABRAHAM BOWMAN (several varieties) Wow! Holy S#!t!). This is Buffalo Trace Rye (i.e. Handy) redistilled and aged in Virginia by A. Smith Bowman
KNOB CREEK RYE Don't knock it just because Jim Beam already markets Beam Rye and Overholt. This is really REALLY good stuff.
- I just bought Knob Creek Rye and am really impressed with it. Available in MI, but the state min. price is $45 for a 750 ml (much higher than Jefferson's Rye).

TOM'S FOOLERY RYE (several styles and agings)
CORSAIR (Wry Moon, and some aged rye coming soon)
MCKENZIE (one of the best artisan/craft ryes out there)
DAD'S HAT (another, completely different style of rye. Available in Pennsylvania)
DELAWARE PHOENIX New York rye. Eat your heart out, Hudson!
STALEY MILLS Ohio rye
TEMPLETON This is LDI rye currently, although they claim to be aging juice actually distilled there
COPPER FOX from Rick Wasmund, who malts his own barley
WHISTLE PIG, which is really "Canadian" rye, but at least it's 100% rye grain.
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