Allocated bourbons are bourbons that are distributed in limited quantities to purchasers (like liquor stores and distributors) by the distilleries that produce them. What makes them different from any other bourbon is the simple concept of supply and demand. Multiple factors influence both the supply and demand, such as marketing efforts, brand recognition, limited production, and more. However, the result is the same with a list of whiskeys that seemingly everyone wants but nobody can get. Finding rare bourbon isn't an exact science and it varies from state-to-state, but here's our take on a guide on how to find allocated bourbons:
Probably the first thing many of us do when we want to find something is to... Google it! The search engine rarely fails us in our search for anything, but in this case you'll get results from online retailers and auction sites. That moment of excitement is short lived however, because if you haven't seen for yourself yet, these online options offer prices that border on highway robbery.
For a bourbon with an MSRP of $65, buying from a site like this just isn't right. An additional consideration is shipping, as laws vary from state-to-state regarding the legality of shipping liquor directly to one's home. Of course, the decision is always yours with how you want to spend your money, we'll just recommend that this is an ultimate last resort.
Ask around. If you know someone who works in the liquor industry, they may be able to point you in the right direction. Friends or family members who work in restaurants or bars may also know where to find allocated bourbons.
The great thing about the bourbon community is just that- it's a community. I've had the best luck in finding allocated bourbons in my area by joining local whiskey groups and developing friendships with those that share a similar passion to mine.
The massive liquor store chains like Total Wine are great for the purpose they serve. They have a massive selection of many different spirits and wines, but it's all usually stuff that can be found anywhere else. They also have great deals pretty frequently, again using Total Wine as an example with their frequent discounts for Spirits Direct bourbons. However, when it comes to the rare bottles, those are usually reserved for the highest tier members of a chain's rewards program.
If you're looking for a bourbon that isn't stashed away via lock and key, look for the mom and pop stores near you! Not only are you supporting local business, but these small stores have a higher likelihood of having allocated bottles on the shelves. Even if they don't have it at the moment, the opportunity to build relationships and know when certain bottles will come in will help you on your journey.
What's a blog post without a shameless plug included? All jokes aside, we really do think that this free tool that we developed can be a massive help in your search for allocated bourbons. Whiskey Hunt is a platform that allows individuals to submit information such as price and location of bottles they find during their hunt for whiskey. When they do so, that whiskey becomes available for search. This way, users can easily search for the bottles they're looking for without having to spend the extra time and energy asking around and visiting multiple liquor stores.
With these tips, you'll be able to find allocated bourbons no matter where you are. Enjoy!