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What does allocated bourbon mean?

Written By: Wally Bolivar


Throughout my career, I have worked with a chain of liquor stores in both retail and wholesale.
In both settings, I would receive a significant number of calls regarding the "allocated bourbons"
we have in stock. In fact, there were so many calls at one point that my sales rep emailed our
team asking that we avoid using the word “allocated” with bourbon, so as not confuse the
customer with how we use “allocated” internally.


From what I have come to understand, many customers who called about “allocated bourbons”
were referring to rarer brands like Blanton's, W.L. Weller, and Eagle Rare. And due to the
exclusivity of these varieties, our stores and warehouses didn’t always carry them.

This often resulted in the question, “I saw it online or in xyz liquor stores, why don’t you carry
it?” This could have been for many reasons. But often, it was due to the nature of purchasing
“allocated bourbons.” The process usually requires a retailer to purchase an assortment of other
products that do not hold the same popularity. When that happens, “allocated bourbons” become
more like a rewards program.


Thankfully, liquor stores with a well-trained, knowledgeable staff can now direct customers to
try a similar style bourbon or rye that may not be “allocated” but is readily available.

We also recommend visiting your local store’s website to lookout for samplings. Being that we
are part of the age of craft bourbons, including some that come from a family pedigree, many
small batch, handmade bourbons and ryes are trying to compete with those big-name brands. For
this reason, they often offer samples to try for a fraction of the price. You might even be
pleasantly surprised by what you find as many of these small craft distillers are based in Bourbon
County, Kentucky.


And if you are not a traditionalist you can also discover some great bourbons from Texas,
Vermont, Oregon, and other cities. Garrison Brothers, Bourbon Barrel, Black Maple Hill, Smoke
Wagon, Widow Jane, WhistlePig, and Old Carter Whiskey Co. are among such brands, to name
a few.


Next time you visit your local wine shop and cannot find your preferred allocated whiskey, these
brands are fantastic alternatives — be sure to try a few out!

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