Buffalo Trace Distillery recently announced that they would be bringing their international-only Blanton’s Gold Edition to U.S. markets starting this summer. There is a lot of excitement for Buffalo Trace’s international Blanton’s products, so demand is expected to be sky high. Despite all of the fever pitch for this new stateside release, it was met with the expected response by many people: “Great...another Buffalo Trace product that will never see the shelves and should catch insane secondary market prices. The company deliberately puts out products simply to tease its customers.”
There are no available hard numbers to prove it, but Buffalo Trace seems to be the most allocated bourbon brand, and people's frustrations continue to grow with the company. It doesn’t help that the company year after year continues to announce new limited products that the majority of consumers never see, taste, or have the ability to purchase. While this is most likely true, and an understandable response from people’s frustrations, 100% of the blame can’t be put on Buffalo Trace.
The Blanton’s Gold Edition press release is a great barometer of just how popular Buffalo Trace’s products are. We post many companies' new product announcements on Breaking Bourbon, but Buffalo Trace announcements far outpace every other company in terms of pageviews and reader comments. It is a simple fact that Buffalo Trace is extremely popular with bourbon customers.
As easy as it is to hate Buffalo Trace for teasing everyone with new limited release products they’ll never have the opportunity to buy, I’m not so sure people realize just how popular and in-demand Buffalo Trace’s products are.
It’s painful as a consumer and bourbon lover to not be able to purchase Buffalo Trace’s products while other companies' products are readily available. Adding even more fuel to the fire, many other major Kentucky distilleries are catching up with demand and even returning age statements to their products. In some cases too, their limited release products appear more readily available.
It still makes you scratch your head as to why Buffalo Trace even bothers with new releases when they can’t adequately supply their existing brands. A lot of it simply has to do with brand presence in the minds of consumers. New products cause excitement which is clearly on display with Blanton’s Gold Edition. The same will happen again when Buffalo Trace officially announces their rumored E.H. Taylor limited release later this year. People are curious about what’s new, but that excitement can be quickly overtaken with resentment. It’s unknown how sustainable this practice will be for the company, although there have been plenty of non-bourbon companies that find great success with this strategy.
The case could be made that Buffalo Trace needs to streamline their product line so they can adequately supply their products, and release limited edition bourbons when they have enough where customers actually have a chance of obtaining one. But keep in mind, for the last few years by our calculations, George T. Stagg and William Larue Weller both saw increased release numbers (close to 40,000 bottles each), but did anyone feel they had an easier chance of getting one?
Thankfully the market has seen a resurgence in available, budget-friendly, and high quality bourbon recently. 1792 Single Barrel, Old Ezra 7 Year Barrel Strength, Larceny Barrel Proof, Four Roses Small Batch Select Bourbon, and even Buffalo Trace’s own Stagg Jr. And remember, Blanton’s Gold Edition has been available from numerous overseas online retailers for years, and will probably continue to be that way for the foreseeable future.
It’s always going to be frustrating to be a consumer of a popular product, but it can have a positive side effect too. The hunt can be exhausting, but at times also thrilling when you land something big. If every new bottle was always readily available, bourbon drinking wouldn’t be as exciting, and the practice of showing off a rare find to friends wouldn't be as fun to partake in either. In turn, people hate to love limited releases, but in a way, they’re a necessary evil that adds to the fun of it all.